Senator Jeff Kruse - June 5th, 2015 - NEARING THE END?


Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701  -  900 Court St. NE, S-315 Salem Oregon 97301
Email:   -   Website:

 Working Hard For You


JUNE 5, 2015




As of today most of the committees are shut down for this Legislative Session.  The exceptions are the Revenue and Rules Committees in both Chambers and the Joint Committees, which include Ways and Means, Tax Credits and Measure 91.  While a fair number of bills were sent to the committees that are still open, we at least now have a better idea of what we still have to deal with before we finish.  One of the interesting dynamics that happens now is the fact legislators whose work was all in the policy committees that are now closed will have very little to do except for the work of passing bills on the floor of their respective Chambers. 


Another interesting dynamic is the fact that the revenue and rules committees have so far passed out very little legislation.  This is actually the way this process normally works, and what we will see in the next couple of weeks is a fair amount of legislation coming out of those committees.  This is the beginning of what is called “the end game”.  Historically this is the time when votes are bought and sold.  The majority of this activity will come down to money.  For example, someone in leadership will approach a legislator and say I will give you money for this project or program if you will vote for this thing I want.  This is something I don’t like, as I think all legislation should stand on its own merits and I personally will not “trade votes”.


Probably the most frustrating part of this Session is the way the Ways and Means Committee is operating.  Historically the President, Speaker and Ways and Means Co-Chairs generally make the decisions relative to how the money will be divided.  By this I mean they will divide the big budget into segments, like so much for education, human services, public safety, etc.  It is then supposed to be left to the sub-committees to come up with the details of the distribution.  This Session is an exception to the normal rule.  At the end of the day it appears that the presiding officers and the co-chairs will be making those decisions and the sub committees will be given no option other than to accept what they are given.  Here is an interesting fact about how the Ways and Means Committee works.  For the most part all bills assigned to Ways and Means will then be sent to one of the sub-committees, but they do not have to be.  Those bills not assigned to a subcommittee can either be killed by the co-chairs or amended by them and sent straight to the full committee.  Additionally, if a subcommittee doesn’t like a bill, they do not have the ability to kill it, as the co-chairs can pull it to the full committee.  I have never seen the “command and control” of both budgets and policy as tightly managed by such a small group as we are seeing this Session.  There are 90 members of the Legislative Assembly and, to a large degree, 4 people are calling all the shots.


Today the full Ways and Means Committee will be passing out Senate Bill 454, which is the paid sick leave bill.  This is a top priority for the Speaker of the House.  In a statement she made at the beginning of the Session she said we needed to do this state-wide.  Her reason was because of the fact Portland and Eugene had already passed it and this put them at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the state. Based on that logic I guess she feels it is OK to put Oregon at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the country.  This bill is a new mandate on all businesses with 10 or more employees, which includes part time or seasonal employees.  92% of businesses in Oregon have less than 25 employees, so this will have the greatest impact on our small businesses.  It is estimated this could cost business at a minimum $914 million over two years.  It is interesting that we have a law against unfunded mandates being placed on city or county governments, but we have no problem putting financial mandates on the private sector.


At the beginning of the Session the majority party said their top priority was going to be jobs and the economy.  What I didn’t expect was for their efforts to be to kill jobs and stifle the economy, which is mostly what is now happening.




Senator Jeff Kruse







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