Big ideas are on the table for Oregon’s short legislative session. Too many big ideas.
Constitutionally, this short session can only last 35 days. It is scheduled to begin on Feb. 3 and run through early March.
In that time, there are proposals to bring up bills to:
• Legalize recreational marijuana.
• Require background checks on more gun sales.
• Revamp the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s control of sale of booze.
• Scrap Oregon’s health exchange and switch to the federal exchange.
• Revise how Oregon contracts for big technology projects, such as Cover Oregon.
• Require that law enforcement get search warrants for obtaining electronic records.
Those aren’t simple ideas. They are complicated changes. If that were all that the Legislature set out to do, it might be doable. But all 90 legislators are going to want to make their mark. They are going to have bills of their own.
It’s going to be a crowded field. That means some bills will get dropped or hurried through. If past sessions are any guide, near the end things get downright frantic.
Central Oregon has important legislation carried by State Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, to help Central Oregon Community College get the money it needs to acquire the building on its campus leased by Oregon State University — Cascades Campus. It matters for COCC and the future of OSU-Cascades. We’re counting on the local delegation to ensure that one doesn’t get lost.
The session can be extended by five days at a time, if enough legislators agree. It can be extended multiple times.
But legislative sessions should not be just about creating more laws and rules. It’s about reviewing the work the government is doing and what did not get done. It’s about setting priorities. It shouldn’t be treated like a funnel to jam in as much as possible to see what comes out.