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Oregon legislative leaders get pep talk from Obama

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTOS - State Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, left, and state Rep. Jennifer Williamson were among more than 50 Democratic and progressive legislators who met briefly Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 30, with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.Portland-area lawmakers state Sen. Diane Rosenbaum and Rep. Jennifer Williamson were among more than 50 legislators from across the country who spent part of their time in Washington, D.C., listening to a pep talk Wednesday afternoon from President Barack Obama.

Rosenbaum and Williamson joined 52 other Democrats and progressives in an Eisenhower Executive Office Building fourth-floor conference room Sept. 30 for a fast 15-minute meeting with the president. Rosenbaum is newly elected Sentate Pro Tempore from District 21 in Southeast Portland. Williamson is the House majority leader from House District 36, which includes parts of downtown, Northwest and Southwest Portland to Multnomah Village.

President Obama told the lawmakers that state legislatures would be on the frontlines of many tough issues because of political gridlock in Washington, D.C. He said the political reality was “a burden — but also a great opportunity” for state lawmakers to make changes that Congress avoids.

He singled out Oregon lawmakers for work on paid sick leave during the 2015 legislative session.

“Congress hasn’t answered my call to provide our workers with paid sick days and paid family leave, but four states have now taken action on their own, including Oregon this year,” the President told lawmakers. “So congratulations, Oregon. We’re proud of you.”

President Obama also talked about state legislatures avoiding the “dirty business” of politics and “practicing politics at its best.”

He also praised public service and thanked state lawmakers for taking on difficult issues.

“I want to thank all of you for the outstanding work that you are doing to keep your communities, your states on the right track,” Obama told the lawmakers. “When you get frustrated, don’t lose heart, because we’re counting on you and, more importantly, the families in your districts and in your states are counting on you. And I think their faith is well-placed.”