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Entries in Jules Bailey (4)

Friday
Oct042013

Kitzhaber, Courtney Legacies Grow

The successful five-bill, three-day Oregon special legislative session will enhance John Kitzhaber's legacy as governor. It also signals a constructive working relationship between House Speaker Tina Kotek and GOP Leader Mike McLane. And the session provided campaign platforms for Reps. Dennis Richardson and Jules Bailey.

Almost lost in the shuffle was Senator Peter Courtney's win in establishing a dedicated funding source for expanded community mental health programs, which was his top priority before the start of the 2013 regular legislative session.

News coverage of the conclusion of the special session Wednesday showed a beaming Kitzhaber. For good reason. He took the tatters of a budget deal left on the cutting room floor in the waning hours of the regular session and wove them into a complicated deal that will result in more money going to K-12 schools and higher education. 

Kitzhaber's unwavering confidence he could find common ground among skeptical House Democrats and legislative Republicans stands in sharp contrast to his defeatist views expressed at the end of his second term of governor. His third term has been an unbroken string of negotiating successes that prove Oregon can be governed after all. And he gets much of the credit.

The Oregonian's Friday edition challenged Kitzhaber now to turn his attention and political capital to comprehensive tax reform, a goal that has eluded him as well as many of his predecessors. Hopefully, The Oregonian will forgive Kitzhaber if he takes the weekend off before starting his new quest.

The Kotek-McLane tandem held together well and under extreme political pressure. To make the multiple-bill compromise work, all five bills had to pass for any to survive. Kotek and McLane knew it would take different cross-sections of lawmakers from both party caucuses to pass the most controversial measures dealing with taxation, PERS cuts and a local pre-emption on genetically modified crops.

Only 22 out of 90 lawmakers voted for all five measures. Kotek and McLane were two of them. More important, they showed they could deliver key votes when it counted. The tax measure, a combination of increases and cuts, began in the House and came up three votes short. Kotek delayed declaring the final vote until she mustered three votes — all from her Democratic caucus.

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Thursday
Aug182011

Special Election Could Tumble Legislative Dominos

The legislature’s 2012 session is more than five months away, but already legislative leaders are making contingency plans for a possible shake-up in control and session management, hinging on who might prevail in the special election to replace Congressman Dave Wu.

Governor John Kitzhaber set January 31, 2012 as the special election date when the party nominees will square off, the day before the legislature convenes. If one of the sitting legislators running for Wu's seat wins, it could trip a series of changes that upset the balance of power in the Oregon Senate and House. Currently, Democrats hold a 16-14 margin in the Senate. The House is tied 30-30 with shared control by Democrats and Republicans.

Senator Suzanne Bonamici, D-PortlandDemocratic Senator Suzanne Bonamici is in a pretty good place to win the race.  A widely respected member from Beaverton, she is the only woman in the race for a district that hasn’t elected a Republican since 1972.

If Bonamici wins January 31, she would resign her state Senate seat to head to Washington, D.C. (Nancy Pelosi won’t let a new member linger in Oregon too long). That would shrink Senate Democratic control to a 15-14 margin until a replacement could be appointed, a process that could take about three weeks at best.  In other words, most of the shortened session.

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Monday
Aug012011

Cool Schools Bill Passed – Now What?

Public schools around Oregon this summer are getting energy-efficient upgrades such as new windows and boilers, thanks to the so-called "Cool Schools" bill (House Bill 2960) the legislature passed this session. Governor Kitzhaber touted the program as a job-creation plan during his campaign, saying it would put to work hundreds of contractors who would install locally made, energy-efficient products in schools.

Governor Kitzhaber outlines Cool Schools projects that were "shovel ready" when he signed the bill in June.The politics behind the Cool Schools bill were remarkable. The bill was labeled as Governor Kitzhaber's initiative and championed by two young, progressive House Democrats from Portland, Reps. Jules Bailey and Jefferson Smith. By all accounts, Republicans had every right to be skeptical. But the bill sailed through the legislature, gaining unanimous votes in both chambers. By the time the bill passed the Senate, Republicans such as Rep. Tim Freeman of Roseburg had signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill directs the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) to issue low- or zero-interest loans to schools. School districts submit an application to ODOE outlining schools' needs, and ODOE issues the funds. The money schools save on lower energy bills should be more than enough to pay back the loans over time.

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Monday
Jul182011

The Post-Session Shuffle

Do you hear that sound? That pitter-patter of feet is what's known as the post-session shuffle, where legislators and staff leave their posts to run for office and work for other organizations, or replace those who left. Here's the list of confirmed and rumored switcheroos:

Reps. Mary Nolan, D-Portland (left), and Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, are leaving the Oregon House to pursue other elected positions.Oregon House

Rep. Mary Nolan, D-Portland, is running for Portland City Council against Amanda Fritz. Sharon Meieran, a lawyer-turned-emergency room doctor, is thinking about running as a Democrat to replace Nolan.

Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, says he'll likely retire at the end of his term. No word yet on serious candidates looking to replace him.

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