A Message From Representative Whitsett
Summer Lake, Lake County Oregon
2014 Legislative Session Week 3 Update
The third week of the short legislative session found bills that have not already been passed out of the House, either dead or unscheduled for hearings in the alternate chamber, with a short two weeks left in the session.
The Senate was placed on one hour notice for bills to be heard in committee and voted out to the floor. This system, which was adopted by the majority party, does not predispose the stateâ€™s citizens or minority legislators to adequate time to thoroughly read bills or amendments to bills.
Bills are often â€œgut and stuffedâ€ with amendments, a nomenclature which suggests that the entire meaning of the original bill may have been changed, with only the "relating to" clause remaining the same. These bills are then quickly read and acted upon in committee and the public never has a chance for citizen input. Often even the non-leadership legislators of the opposite party do not have time to read the amended bills either, as they see the bill in its new form only minutes before having to vote.
It is critical in my opinion for the public to have full participatory access to the legislative process. This is not occurring when a member of the public is restricted to two minutes of testimony time on a given bill. If the bill is so controversial that dozens of people show up to provide citizen input, then the committees should be extended to accommodate them. It is a simple concept- entitle those who show up to at least five minutes to testify.
We are citizen legislators in a republic form of government and only when we listen to the public and then make completely informed decisions, can we do our jobs by making the best decisions for all of the people. We are not elected to force our personal agendas onto the state's citizenry, which is what is happening with some regularity. We are seeing a consistent blurring of the lines of separation between the Executive (administrative), the Legislative and the Judicial branches of government in this state. No members of one branch of our government should wrest power from another, under any guise. It is a disabuse of the entire elective process.