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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 27, 2008 8:37 AM. The previous post in this blog was Wait 'til next year... or the year after that... or the year after that.... The next post in this blog is Bill's World, Bill's World, excellent. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What failure looks like

The Seinfeld session of the Oregon Legislature, just concluded, was pretty underwhelming overall, but the wimpy thing it came up with in the name of mortgage reform was particularly disappointing.

Now, I'm not a big fan of bailing people out who got in over their heads with their housing finances -- I think Americans need to spend a lot more time reading and understanding legal documents before they sign them -- but what gets me the most is the explanation of why the move toward serious mortgage reform has failed in Salem. It reminds me a lot of the farce that took place when State Sen. Ginny Burdick & Crew undertook to outlaw holding a cell phone while driving, but wound up banning that practice only among teenagers (or some such nonsense). From Ryan Gragg Frank in today's O:

Mortgage brokers -- with an assist from the industry's United Financial Lobby -- mounted withering opposition. Some argued the new rules would drive them out of business and could bring back 1950s-era redlining for minority borrowers. Why not wait, they said, for the Federal Reserve to make official new rules that apply to all lenders?

The Legislature's three-week session provided little time for consumer groups to counter industry arguments. Tepid support even from Democrats and strong Republican opposition led House Speaker Jeff Merkley to water down the bill to win votes. But in the process, he lost the consumer support base and the political momentum fell flat.

"The real strong advocacy wasn't there," said Senate President Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat who controlled the bill's fate in the session's final hours. The Senate vote, Courtney said, "wasn't close."

That's a 2-0 record for the mortgage industry in two years. But they, along with consumer groups and legislators, pledged work on more potential reforms for next year's session.

It's almost as though the function of the Legislature were to play scorekeeper to see which faction screamed the loudest or spent the most money staking their claim. Whatever happened to the days when the people we elected to represent us would study the facts, make up their own minds what was the right thing to do, and then do it? Now they act like they're just watching wild animals gore each other on the Discovery Channel and announcing the winners.

What's even crazier is that there is pretty much no money to be made serving in the Oregon Legislature (except for a few who figure out ways to steal it indirectly). Why, then, should the members pay any attention at all to what the greasy lobbyists are saying? The lawmakers ought to throw them all out of the building, check in with their constituents, and do what they were sent to Salem to do. It's really not asking too much.

Comments (9)

Lobbyists in salem are a lot like philanderers, they need an easy target or they can't Tango.

Why, then, should the members pay any attention at all to what the greasy lobbyists are saying? The lawmakers ought to throw them all out of the building, check in with their constituents, and do what they were sent to Salem to do. It's really not asking too much.

Amen.


Worst among them are the publicly funded, pulbic agency lobbyists like Metro's.
Who's lobbyist successfully got $250 million in lottery backed bonds for Milwaukie light rail last session.

Between the government and their employee unions rolling over Salem there's no chance of any genuine imporvements on any front. That's not to say there aren't private infuences conflicting the policy making.

The Mortgage Bill was an intrusive remedy looking for a problem that the state has no business getting into.
Exactly the kind of thing our dysfunctional legislature is good at doing.

IMO they should meet only every four years. We'd save huge amounts of taxpayer's money plus not be sickened by the news reports covering their yearly or biannual "accomplishments".

I would favor restricting the Oregon legislature to only meeting if petitioned by citizens or governor, and approved by a simple majority of Oregon voters. Legislature is mainly a place to get some name recognition, and the only way to get name recognition is to pass populist oriented laws (flavor of the month type issues) and/or create new programs rather than attend to basic services.

Which would professional lobbyists like better--a legislature that meets more often, or less often?

let's be honest--legislators depend almost entirely on lobbyists to shape major legislation, rather than take on the tiresome task of collecting and processing citizen input--or making wise decisions themselves.

Bob Clark: I would favor restricting the Oregon legislature to only meeting if petitioned by citizens or governor, and approved by a simple majority of Oregon voters.

So you want to abolish the checks and balances guaranteed by our constitution, and give the control over the legislature to the Governor and Secretary of State? This is extreme even for you, Bob.

Didn't you hear Clinton's defense of lobbyists last night at the debate?

“I don’t, I don’t think based on my 35 years in fighting for what I believe in anybody seriously believes I am going to be influenced by a lobbyist or a particular interest group,” obviously forgetting about the bankruptcy bill in 2001, et al.

And, hilariously, she bragged that she will continue raking in massive campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists, and claimed that “lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans.”

That got quite a laugh from the audience, as well as Obama.

Why, then, should the members pay any attention at all to what the greasy lobbyists are saying? The lawmakers ought to throw them all out of the building, check in with their constituents, and do what they were sent to Salem to do. It's really not asking too much.

Amen.
--------

Agreed.

The system was set up as a citizen legislature. And a few citizens came, volunteered (mostly) their time (while keeping their day job) and then left when they passed some bills.

The model was best exemplified by Rep. Tony Van Vliet. Come in. Make your best decisions. Then get back home. To your old job.

Not grandstand. Then pontificate. And then run for another office. and then another office. etc.

So you want to abolish the checks and balances guaranteed by our constitution, and give the control over the legislature to the Governor and Secretary of State?

What they don't have it now?

Thanks I need a good laugh today.


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