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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now, there's an idea

Why not reduce the state legislature from one house to two? Rather than 90 colorful solons strutting around Salem brooding about whether we should ban plastic bags or adopt "the Code of the West," couldn't we get by with 60? Or even 30?

Comments (13)

Umm, two houses to one?

Nebraska is the only state that does this. All 10 Canadian Provinces do it for their legislatures.

The argument for two chambers is that it slows down the legislative process and dulls the ability of the majority to, in their passion, pass laws that gut the minority.

But the initiative/referendum process guts that idea, so why not?

Do we have the guts?

Why don't we have them pass a two year budget and then just go home for two years?

Remember when the NHL shut down for a year and no one noticed? I think the State legislature could be a lot like that.

The big stuff gets hashed out in budget negotiations. Then they just hang around trying to justify their presence by passing make-work regulations.

Most of these local legislative races come down to the party affiliation of the given representatives, and we seem to be electing dems. vs. repubs. as opposed to focusing on the qualifications of the individuals themselves. With 30 elected officials in a state with approximately 4 million people, I think there would be enough direct representation such that those elected to a unicameral legislature could be responsive to their constituants if they were full time and had full professional staffs, etc. So much of what goes on in Salem is party politics as usual, and with a smaller group ideas get would get vetted more quickly and coalitions would more readily form around bills that made sense as opposed to politicians voting for things because the pary boss told them to vote for it. While we are at it, in an effort to bring some fresh new blood into the mix, I say do away with the party primaries and just do an all comers open primary in May with a run-off in November between the top two if necessary. Politicians in this state are too easy to buy, and we need to make them accountable to the people who elected them as opposed to special interests such as the public employees unions and the liqour distributors.

I'd go another route: Leap Year only legislative sessions, and even then, limit the session to no more than 45 days. If revenue and budget get out of whack in the interim, cross the board adjustments occur to balance. The more the Oregon legislature meets the poorer and gloomier the lives of everyday Oregonians gets. All we get is you can't do this, you can't to that, don't move or we'll shoot. State Senator Ginnie Burdick is the worst of these nanny nazis.

Go lower. Tell me one crucial thing they've done besides having to have them do a budget (even then they don't want to deal with a budget instead of plastic bags).

That's why this proposal to meet every year is just asking for trouble.

The split houses in Oregon makes no sense.

In the U.S. government, one house (the Senate) gives equal representation to each state - two Senators - regardless of population or size; each Senator has a six year term which is staggered so every two years, 1/3rd of the Senate is up for election, so the Senate, despite being a smaller body, is much more deliberate.

The House has 435 members apportioned by population, elected to two year terms falling simultaneously - so the entire House is re-elected every two years.

In Oregon, we have the Senate with 30 members and the House with 60, but both are apportioned by population. So Portland is heavily represented in both houses. If Oregon followed the federal Congress rules, we'd have 72 Senators (two for each county, or possibly just one for each of the 36 counties), and the House by population.

With a population under 4 million, do we really need two houses totalling 90 elected officials? Why not one single house with 50 members (meaning that any law must pass by at least two votes - 26 to 24)?

I have no problem with the annual meetings...no law is going to prevent legislators from bringing to the floor stupid laws. What we need is something less like the U.S. House of Representatives, and more like the U.S. Senate, where the design of the chambers makes it next to impossible to pass laws on a whim. We could even have them serve three year terms, so either 17 or 16 Senators are up for election each year.

Reducing the number of our legislators would certainly help the state reach its ambitious greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals . . .

In about 1908 or 1910 there was a measure on the ballot to abolish the Oregon Senate. Although it had progressive support it didn't come close.

A bicameral state legislature makes no sense whatsoever since Baker vs. Carr.

Nebraska seems to do fine with a one house legislature. Interesting that Nebraska was a very progressive state at one time.

How much money would it save to abolish the Oregon Senate?

Jack, Poll on pol reduction, please.

Vote Unicameral!

Soon, someone will propose "one man one vote" and it will fall on the deaf ears of the electorate.

Reducing the number of our legislators would certainly help the state reach its ambitious greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals . . .

During Spring Break, it was amazing to see how much fewer vehicles were on the roads and how many fewer riders were on my bus. Buses were always on time and with plenty of seats.

It'll be interesting to see if the federal government shuts down...maybe the first step in carbon emissions reduction should be a huge down-scaling of government, especially in urban areas like Portland were most of the jobs are in central cities while the residents (and clients) live well removed from the central city.

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