Special session ripe with accomplishments
Strip away the typical political rhetoric following the recent special session and what you will find is a three-week session that accomplished a great deal in a very bi-partisan manner.
First, let's look at the bills we passed.
• We helped families facing home mortgage foreclosure by cracking down on mortgage scams.
• We protected children in foster homes by adding more child protective workers.
• We provided financial assistance to coastal residents recovering from the floods.
• We got recalled toys off the shelves of Oregon retailers.
• We helped protect the future of small family farms, fishery and woodlot operations by cutting inheritance taxes.
• We advanced water storage projects and funded the Big Look land-use task force.
• We made highways safer by approving 24-7 state trooper coverage, on top of 100 new troopers we added last year.
• We provided new funding for seniors needing long-term care in retirement communities or their homes, as well as legislation to create a comprehensive plan for our long-term care system.
• We passed a Farm-To-School bill to help local farmers sell their produce to local schools.
• We included construction dollars to build a health professions training center at Oregon Institute of Technology and rebuild crumbling buildings at Clatsop Community College, as well as approved funding for the University of Oregon.
• We doubled the number of investigators for the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to get rid of the backlog of investigations they now have.
• We approved a ballot measure to increase sentences for those committing property crimes and increased drug treatment to help prevent those crimes.
Our investments in February were targeted, modest and smart. We kept our promise to wisely manage the state's budget. In fact, our fiscally cautious nature in the 2007 regular session left us with an ending balance of over $200 million, more than enough to withstand the recent downturn in our economy.
Politics being the art of spin, many Republicans have complained about the session. But their votes and their press releases convey a different message. House Republicans claim six of eight of their priorities passed; and Senate Republicans thanked their colleagues 'across the aisle' for supporting their key bills.
Overall, in the House, of the 86 bills we voted on, 52 of them had NO dissenting votes; only four had 29 no votes, and only 10 bills in the entire session had more than 15 House no votes.
You can read all of the press releases issued by House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders at this website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/press_releases/.
A real review of the session - not just a cursory glance at the politics behind it all - shows that we came to Salem, accomplished our work efficiently and returned to our communities a week a head of schedule with a solid list of accomplishments.
Dave Hunt is the House Majority leader and represents District 40, serving Gladstone and Clackamas.