End of legislative session doesn't spell end of work at Capitol
As I write this column, it's the day of the "Eclipsealypse" or whatever it will be called in the future. By the time you read this, you'll have experienced something that is maybe a once in a lifetime experience and I hope it was everything you wanted it to be.
It is "interim" time at the Capitol, meaning we aren't in session and have all gone back to our "day jobs". Still, we never stop serving.
I've held town hall meetings in Newberg, St. Paul and Keizer since the session ended and they were all very good and I loved hearing from many of you.
In Newberg of course, one of the most important issues is the bypass. I was very unhappy with the $22 million that was set aside for the bypass because I said all session long that we needed $80 million to be "shovel ready" in order to leverage federal dollars to finish the project.
I pushed all session long for more funding and was told, "We don't have that much money!" Yet magically, in the last week of negotiations, in order to get enough votes to pass the transportation bill, $100 million was found to upgrade Powell Boulevard in Portland! I guess we now know where Newberg stands.
In St. Paul, I have scheduled a meeting with Marion County, ODOT and the City of St. Paul to address the traffic safety of its main intersection — each road coming is controlled by one of those bodies so they all have to be at the table to find a solution.
There is often a lot of horse trading that goes on behind the scenes as bills are passed. Many times there are only unsubstantiated rumors about the deals, but sometimes they become very public.
An example of that is the deal to pass the $600 million "healthcare provider tax" which would tax hospitals to fund our Medicaid program.
You may have heard that one Republican voted with the Democrats to pass that tax increase — and in return he was promised several items for his district. Then recently Gov. Kate Brown line item vetoed those projects that were negotiated as part of a deal made by both sides.
Though I am not a fan of political deals there is a time for them and both sides must keep their word. Rep. Sal Esquivel of Medford kept his end of the bargain, the governor did not.
If there's one thing I've learned, now that I am in my second term in the House, is that both sides can be right and both sides can be wrong and usually they can't seem to see that. Working together can also be something that does great things, yet if it means compromising your principles, it can be a disaster.
I've written many times in this space that I feel that "one party" rule is detrimental to Oregon. I contend that with either party this is true as there was a time, not long ago, when my party was in control of the Oregon Legislature and, I am ashamed to say, made many of the same mistakes and pulled many of the same tactics as the current party in charge.
If I could wave my "magic wand" I'd make the Legislature more evenly divided which would force us to focus on issues that appeal to all Oregonians, not the interests of a few or one party or the other.
Bill Post is the state representative for House District 25, which encompasses Keizer, Newberg and rural northwest Marion County, including St. Paul.