Early Projections for Legislative Golden Gobbler Awards

A resolution to make marionberry pie the official pie of Oregon could be an early leader in the 2017 legislative session race to win the Golden Gobbler Award. But it has competitors, with more turkey bills to come.

A resolution to make marionberry pie the official pie of Oregon could be an early leader in the 2017 legislative session race to win the Golden Gobbler Award. But it has competitors, with more turkey bills to come.

The Golden Gobbler award is something Oregon legislators sheepishly accept, even if they really weren’t trying to win it.

The award goes to the most frivolous and gratuitous bill of each legislative session. Nobody’s career is helped or hurt by winning the lighthearted award (a frozen turkey), but the legislative community gets a good laugh and free beer when it is awarded.

Oregon,  My Oregon (revised)

“Land of the Empire Builders,

“Land of the Golden West;

“Land of Majestic Mountains,

“Fairest and the best.

“Onward and upward ever,

“Forward and on, and on;

“Hail to thee, Land of Heroes,

“My Oregon.

“Land of the rose and sunshine

“Land of the summer’s breeze;

“Laden with health and vigor,

“Fresh from the Western seas.

“Blessed by the love of Freedom,

“Land of the setting sun;

“Hail to thee, Land of Promise,

“My Oregon.” 

The 2017 legislative session, still only a couple of weeks old, has some strong Golden Gobbler contenders. Second-term Rep. Sheri Malstrom, D-Beaverton, may be the frontrunner with resolutions that would declare marionberry pie as Oregon’s official pie and change some of the lyrics of the state song, “Oregon, My Oregon.”

Oregon has a state dance (square dance), state bird (Western Meadowlark) and a state mushroom (Pacific Golden Chanterelle), so it’s not unreasonable to designate a state pie, especially made from a berry that is special to Oregon. Malstrom introduced House Concurrent Resolution 19 at the request of Shari’s restaurants, which is based in her district and has won many awards for its marionberry pies. Who doesn’t like a good pie.

Tinkering with the state song may be tougher to slice. Malstrom, who is a nurse, says some lyrical updates are warranted since there has been a lot of cultural and societal evolution in the 90 years since the song was enshrined as Oregon’s own song.

Her changes, written by Amy Shapiro, include replacing the phrase in the first verse, “Conquered and held by free men” with “Land of Majestic Mountains. In the second verse, “Blest by the blood of martyrs” would be replaced with “Blessed by the love of Freedom.”  Among those who may disagree are Senate President Peter Courtney, ever the traditionalist and one who often quotes the state motto, “She flies with her own wings.”

However, Malstrom doesn’t have a clear path to claim the frozen turkey. Here are other contenders, identified by the Portland Business Journal:

  • Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 that would designate the Border collie as the state dog (Senator Bill Hansell, at request)
  • Senate Bill 76 that defines unnamed combat sports and authorizes them to be regulated by the Oregon State Athletic Commission (Governor Brown at request of the Oregon State Police)
  • House Bill 2851 that requires use of headlights on cars when windshield wipers are in use or there is fog (Rep. Paul Evans)
  • Senate Bill 688 that permits outdoor race tracks in exclusive farm use zones for radio-controlled vehicles (Senator Fred Girod and Rep. Vic Gilliam, at request)
  • Senate Bill 556 that bans driving a vehicle with a dog or dogs on the driver’s lap (Senator Bill Hansell)
  • House Bill 2875 that imposes excise tax on ground beans and ground coffee to generate tax revenue for education (House Revenue Committee)
  • House Bill 2857 that could force karaoke bars to pay royalties for performances of copyrighted musical works (House Business and Labor Committee)

There is still plenty of time in the legislative session for new turkeys to spread their feathers.

Zack Reeves is a state affairs associate who represents CFM clients in the Oregon legislature. He began working as a legislative staffer in 2011 and has developed a wide range of contacts and experience on a broad spectrum of legislation. Before politics, Zack worked as a reporter and copy editor.