The Oregon Senate has been shut down for a month. Does anyone care?

By John A. Charles, Jr.

Most Republican members of the Oregon Senate have refused to participate in floor sessions since May 3, in a show of opposition to Democratic leadership. As a result, hundreds of bills are waiting for floor votes, which may never be taken before the mandatory adjournment date of June 25.

While this is frustrating for legislative insiders, the average Oregonian probably doesn’t care. Most people have no idea what is going on in the Capitol, for good reason. Bills are usually introduced for the benefit of narrow interests. If passed, they would eventually raise taxes for voters. Only on rare occasions does legislation actually benefit the public.

Some political analysts are focused on how future legislators can be compelled to show up, but perhaps the real lesson is how useless the legislature is.

This may be the Wally Pipp moment for politicians, a nod to the New York Yankees first basemen who sat out a game in 1925 and was replaced by Lou Gehrig—for the next 2,129 consecutive games.

Legislative arguments about the walkout sound like kids arguing in the sandbox. If politicians can’t do better, they should all go home, where they won’t be missed.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Donna Bleiler

    Donna Bleiler

    11:34 pm - June 9, 2023

    I wouldn’t belittle the walkout as kids arguing in the sandbox, but I do agree that Oregon taxpayer are better off that nothing is getting passed. I’d say there has never been a session that doesn’t cost taxpayer and Oregonians more to live in Oregon. At a time when all the predicted money pouring in, they should be talking tax cuts to reduce the kicker instead of stealing it. The argument is between legal vs illegal; moral vs immoral; death vs life; family vs government; republic vs democracy; God vs Satan…

  2. Avatar for Thomas J. Busse

    Thomas J. Busse

    12:33 pm - June 12, 2023

    A problem with Oregon’s very part-time legislature is it fails in its duty to provide necessary oversight. So much of Oregon’s governance depends on arbitrary and unaccountable administrative rulemaking. We really saw this with ‘pandemic’ rules where the Oregon Health Authority essentially went rogue. Earlier this year, the state imposed a huge wildlife plan that really should be a democratic legislative function. We need legislative audits of ODOT, OHA, OLCC, etc where leaders such as state Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger are hauled in and grilled under oath in order to be held accountable for their actions.

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