When Governor Brown signed the new minimum wage law on March 2 she hailed it as an example of Oregon’s collaborative spirit. Far from it.
The Democrats have been using this year’s short session to run the Legislature like an authoritarian one-party state. That’s what happens when one party is in control for so long.
In one case, the Democrats steamrolled Republicans and rammed a minimum wage bill, SB 1532, through the Legislature in just one month.
The Senate passed the bill 16-12, with the vote going strictly along party lines. The House vote was 32-26, with every Republican again voting no.
Under this major law that will impact workers and employers across the state, the base state minimum wage will rise to $9.75 on July 1. Wages will then rise at different rates in in three geographic areas, with the Portland area reaching $14.75 in 2022.
Then there’s what The Oregonian has called “one of the most far-reaching pieces of energy legislation the state has ever seen.”
On March 1, the Democrats rammed through the House on almost a strict party-line vote, the latest version of a controversial bill that would end the use of coal to provide power to Oregonians within two decades and expand the use of renewables to 50% of the power supply by 2040. Republicans then repeatedly failed to derail the legislation, after which all but one Democrat voted to pass the bill, overwhelming the no votes of 12 Republicans (one didn’t vote).
In this case, it wasn’t only the Republicans that were shut out of the process; so was the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The Oregonian reported that state utility regulators say they were shut out when it came time to craft the legislation and when members of the Commission tried to voice their concerns publicly, the governor’s office muzzled them.
To top it off, Democrats have abused the short Legislative session itself.
When voters approved Measure 71, providing for annual legislative sessions, in 2010, there was a general expectation that the short sessions would deal with emergencies and lower-impact bills, leaving the longer sessions for comprehensive and high-impact bills where deliberation and public input would be required.
Democrats have cast that approach aside this short session and run amok with major partisan legislation.
Apparently its true, to slightly rephrase Mark Twain’s observation, that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Oregon Legislature is in session.”