SALEM — Things will be in much sharper focus Wednesday for the Oregon Legislature. Oregonians — including their 90 lawmakers — will know the outcome of Measure 101.
If the health care tax referendum passes in Tuesday’s election, lawmakers can move on to the next round of battles over a carbon pollution cap, public employee benefits, jobs programs, Oregon State University-Cascades construction funds, and any of the hundreds of other pieces of legislation.
If the measure fails, they can fold all of those bills into a giant blender and hit “puree,” because dealing with the fallout of a Measure 101 defeat will eat up just about all of the time available. Whether that means a huge state Medicaid funding overhaul or just shifting some money around depends on who is talking.
Monday was the first day all pending legislation was on public view through the Oregon Legislative Information System. Whether they support or oppose Measure 101, lawmakers still added to the hopper of bills headed to the House and Senate.
A few bills of interest, along with other news from the Capitol.
Bridge ban Part 2
A bill will be introduced for the 2018 legislative session to try again to ban a bridge over the Deschutes River near the south end of the Bend city limits. Similar legislation died in a Senate committee during the 2017 session. The new attempt, House Bill 4029, uses the common but still controversial method of “committee bills” that do not require the names of sponsors. The request line only states: “At the request of House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources for Oregon Wild.” The committee is chaired by Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem. Oregon Wild is a major statewide conservation group. Clem was not available for comment Monday, and Oregon Wild spokesman Arran Robertson was out of the office this week. In November, Oregon Wild hired lobbyist J.L. Wilson. Until October, Wilson lobbied for a group led by Bend resident Tim Phillips, an investment consultant and longtime GOP fundraiser. Phillips took an active role in efforts to block the bridge in the 2017 legislative session. The proposed bridge would be located not far from his home. The two House members whose districts intersect near the proposed future bridge site — Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, and Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend — say they are not involved with the new bill. Both had supported the bridge ban during the 2017 session.
Term of the week: ‘Short session’
You will be hearing this one a lot over the next two months. It’s shorthand for the 35-day session of the Legislature that is held in even-numbered years. The “long session” is the 160-day session held in odd-number years. The Legislature only met in odd numbered years until voters in 2010 approved the even-numbered-year short session. The first short session was held in 2012. The governor or the Legislature can also call a special session that brings lawmakers to Salem to deal with an emergency or specific issue.
Buehler, who is running for governor, will introduce House Bill 4115, which would in the future prohibit statewide officeholders, legislators and judges — with exceptions — from the Public Employees Retirement System. Another, HB 4125, would require the state to recoup within three months after its effective date all overpayments made to medical providers under the problem-riddled Oregon Health Authority. Buehler has been critical of Gov. Kate Brown’s handling of both the PERS and OHA issues.
Whisnant is focusing on education reforms with House bills 4017, 4035 and 4046. Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, will introduce Senate Bill 1558, dealing with water transfer and storage.
Another no on GOP run for governor
Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg, a key conservative lawmaker in Salem and a leader of the no on Measure 101 campaign, says he will not run for governor in 2018. Hayden had previously left the door open to making a decision after Tuesday’s special election but said Monday the governorship was not in his plans. Hayden declined to say if he will run for re-election next year, but he is not expected to step aside. Hayden joins a list of conservative Republican politicians who have looked at the primary race against Buehler and decided to stay out: Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, and Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Bend businessman Sam Carpenter is running as a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. Carpenter is seeking to rally conservatives who see Buehler as too moderate for the party nomination. The primary is May 15.
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