MAY 19th, 2017 - SOMETHING POSITIVE

Jeff Kruse

MAY 19, 2017

 

SOMETHING POSITIVE

 

This week the Senate passed House Bill 2005, otherwise known as the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017.  This bill has a very interesting history.  If you will remember this was a hot button topic during the presidential election, so we knew it would be an issue we would be dealing with in the Legislature.  I don’t want to get into the national debate, except to say it was amazing all the misinformation and accusations that came out as “real news” at that time.  The real issue is how we were going to deal with it in Oregon.  This is where politics might have overcome good policy.

 

The debate in the House was very heated and there were several attempts to bring some reasonable elements to the legislation.  In the end the bill passed the House on mostly a party line vote.  One can assume the House version of the bill might have been written by the trial lawyers, simply because it set up the potential for a massive number of lawsuits.

 

Fortunately, the bill was assigned to the Senate Workforce Committee and the members of that committee set about the task of making it a good bill dealing with real, non political issues.  I will spare you the details except to say that Senator Kathleen Taylor, the chair of the committee and Senator Tim Knopp the vice chair did a very good job of making this legislation something everyone could support.  In the end the bill passed the Senate on a 30 to 0 vote.  We also believe Representative Ann Lininger, the chair of the House committee, will concur with the Senate amendments and send the bill to the Governor for her signature. 

 

This is a good example of the way the process is supposed to work.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen often enough.

Today is another deadline, where bills in most committees need to be put on the schedule or they are dead.  The next deadline is June 3, when bills need to be reported out of committees.  At that point members of substantive committees will have finished their work, except for the Rules and Revenue Committees.  An interesting dynamic that has developed at this point is the way the Senate is dealing with House bills as opposed to the way the House is dealing with Senate bills.  For example, the Senate will be voting on six House bills on Monday and we are moving our agenda every day.  Meanwhile the House has over 70 Senate bills scheduled for a vote on their floor and so far, they are only dealing with House bills.  As most of the Senate bills on their third reading calendar are not controversial it makes one wonder what games are being played.  One could assume the extreme progressive agenda of the House Democrats is at odds with the more reasonable approach of the Senate Democrats.  The pay equity bill is probably a good example of the philosophical divide. 

 

We are reaching the point where we are going to be seeing the major budgets coming up for votes.  Our position still is the fact we need to see some real movement in government efficiencies before that happens.  We have asked for one billion dollars in efficiencies, which out of a 74-billion-dollar budget should be achievable.  So far, we are getting very little in that direction.  Ever expanding government clearly is the desire of the progressives who think government should oversee everything.  I am still hoping we can start moving in a different direction from that agenda.

 

To some degree Oregon is a microcosm of the discussions happening nationally.  It comes down to a simple question.  Do we believe in America as it was founded or do we move to a total socialist, government-controlled society?  One could say we are moving towards the latter, but I still believe in the founding principles.  I think it is time to put people ahead of government, but it is going to be a hard fight considering the current political makeup of our state.  What develops here over the next month will be very informative.  I try to remain hopeful, but it is not easy in this environment.

 

Sincerely,

 

Senator Jeff Kruse

email: Sen.JeffKruse@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kruse