« Oregon Human Rights and Anti-Genocide Act of 2005 | Home Page | Undone Dozen Update »

House Republican Leaders Choose to Leave the Peoples' Work Undone

During last year’s campaign season, candidates for the Oregon House promised action on a broad range of issues that Oregonians care deeply about, including the high cost of healthcare, fighting the war against methamphetamine, creating jobs and strengthening the economy, accountability in government, and funding education.

After the 73rd session of the Oregon Legislature got under way in January, many well-meaning members of both parties rolled up their sleeves and started working on bills that addressed these concerns. In good faith, they introduced legislation that tackled the work they knew the voters and citizens of Oregon consider important.

Unfortunately, in the rush to end this session of the legislature, Speaker Karen Minnis and Majority Leader Wayne Scott have adjourned the House until next Sunday, while the bulk of the people’s work remains unfinished. I’m disappointed and angry that the Republican leadership apparently feels no sense of urgency over keeping the promises that Republicans and Democrats alike have made to the people of Oregon.

Significant work remains to address every major challenge in the lives of working Oregonians, including the runaway rise in the cost of prescription drugs and health coverage; the staggering impact of the meth epidemic; and a solid financial foundation that provides the opportunity to aspire to excellence. And all over Oregon, people are demanding that the legislature keep its promise to promote economic growth and stimulate the formation of new jobs.

In every one of these significant policy areas, major bills are awaiting action in the House of Representatives. But the Speaker’s response to these real issues affecting the quality of life of all Oregonians is to say we have “little to do” and to send the House on a four-day paid vacation.

To make our point about the Unfinished Agenda as clearly as possible, we have identified 12 important proposals that have passed the Senate with bi-partisan support, but that are languishing unaddressed in the Oregon House of Representatives.

We call it the “Undone Dozen.”

These are measures the people of Oregon care about. These are significant bills that would help make life healthier, more prosperous and safer for every citizen in this state or that would improve the efficiency of state government. They are bills we could be working on right now, while the Senate moves toward the end of its own session.

Health care

In the area of health care, the Speaker and the Majority Leader have left three vital initiatives hanging in limbo:

• Senate Bill 1 would require insurance companies to cover mental health problems in the same way they cover other medical conditions. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support on March 21, by a vote of 23-6. Today, it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 329 is one of the most important proposals we’ve seen to help reduce the cost of health care. It would expand the state’s drug purchasing pool to allow private businesses and individuals to save money on prescription drugs. On May 20, it passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 19-11. Today, it waits in the House Budget Committee.

• Senate Bills 756 and 849 enhance women’s access to emergency contraceptives, and require insurance companies to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives. These are important bills that affect women’s health, but the Republican leadership has chosen to let them die. The two bills passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support (22-7 and 20-7)—the first in March, the second in May, but today they wait in the House Judiciary Committee.


On the issue of education, which is on the minds of countless parents and students these days, two bills could have a positive effect on school budgets:

• Senate Bill 766 would eliminate unreasonably rich severance packages for superintendents of school districts, as well as retirement benefits better than those of other school employees—the so-called “golden parachutes.” The bill would save money for schools, and allow stronger investment in the classroom. The Senate passed it on April 20 with strong bipartisan support (19-8), but today the bill waits in the House Education Committee, while the House goes on a paid four-day vacation.

• Senate Bill 841 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 address the Education Stability Fund, commonly known as the “Rainy Day” fund. The first would require transfer of the entire General Fund ending balance (up to a limit of two percent of all General Fund expenditures) to the Education Stability Fund. The second would refer a constitutional amendment to the voters, enabling them to increase the Education Stability from five percent to 10 percent of General Fund revenues. These are serious, effective proposals that could provide a real cushion for school funding. They both passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support on May 31 and June 1, but today they wait in the House Budget Committee and the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 467 would enable the Department of Education to reimburse school districts and others who provide summer food services to the children of low-income families. The price tag would be $150,000 per biennium. The Senate passed the bill with strong bipartisan support (25-3) on June 6, but today the bill waits in the House Budget Committee.

The Meth Crises

Nearly every House member vowed to bolster Oregon’s fight against methamphetamine.

• Today, two strong bills—HB 2485 and SB 907, the “Meth Package”—still await action in the Budget Committee.

Economic development and jobs

Similarly, nearly every House member promised voters a strong effort to foster economic development and promote the growth of jobs.

• Senate Bill 71, or “Connect Oregon,” is a bill that would allocate $100 million in Lottery-backed bonds for air, rail, seaport and transit improvements throughout the state—an excellent opportunity to stimulate business development and create thousands of new jobs. In the rush to adjourn the House, the Republican leadership has wasted a golden opportunity to strengthen Oregon’s economy. The bill passed the Senate unanimously on June 22, but today it’s dying in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

Abusive tax shelters and giveaways

The taxpayers of Oregon are tired of hosing away precious tax dollars on hundreds of shelters, credits, deductions and allowances that overburden our state’s tax code.

• Senate Bill 480 strengthens penalties for certain abusive tax shelters, and provides periods of amnesty to encourage immediate compliance. Republicans and Democrats alike loved this bill in the Senate, where it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (23-3) on March 23. Today it waits in the House Budget Committee.

Consumer protection

The Senate has passed two important measures that provide major benefits or protection to consumers.

• Senate Bill 545, the “Payday Loan” bill, would restrict lenders to 15 percent of the loan value as interest on a two-week loan, which is still the equivalent of 391 percent interest when figured on an annual basis. Some lenders charge as much as 600 percent interest. The measure also would limit loan amounts to $1,000 or 25 percent of a borrowers' gross monthly income, whichever is less. This badly needed bill passed the Senate on May 31 with bipartisan support (17-13), but today it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 408 would simply require investor-owned utilities to pay the taxes for which they bill their customers, instead of simply keeping the money after reducing their tax liability with credits and loopholes. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support (26-4) on June 8, but today it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

Double-majority reform

Senate Joint Resolution 14 responds to a very real problem in Oregon. Because of the infamous “double-majority” requirement, voters in local property tax elections can cast a “no” vote by simply not voting at all. This measure would enable the voters to amend the constitution by eliminating the requirement for a turnout by a majority of voters in property tax elections. But it would restrict such elections to the November general election in even-numbered years and the May election in any year. The Senate passed this bill with strong bipartisan support (20-8) on April 12, but today it languishes in the House Revenue Committee.


I want to emphasize that the proposals I’ve described—the “Undone Dozen”—are not wildly partisan attempts to embarrass one party or the other in the House. They all have bipartisan support. They are good public policy, because they respond to real problems.

It’s just plain wrong to let these good pieces of legislation wither and die in committee just because a tight group of the majority leadership would rather not deal with them. The people sent us here to do their business, and we owe them a decent effort. The House Democrats are here today, ready to work on these bills, ready to do the business of the people. We wish the majority party were here, too.

July 7, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
TrackBacks (0) | Comments (34 so far)
Permalink: House Republican Leaders Choose to Leave the Peoples' Work Undone



Posted by: rrrinowatch | Jul 7, 2005 1:11:45 PM

Absolutely. Not to mention SB 1000 of course. Tis better to get it done right than to get it done fast.

Posted by: Andy | Jul 7, 2005 5:48:42 PM

SB-1000 will Pass the Senate Tomorrow and now the fight with getting Karen to move this out, for a house vote is going to be a battel . and when is it that you have to say your sorry every time you may hurt your Senators Fealing ... Kate Brown needs to hear that we want what we want and we put her there to do a JOB......

Posted by: Homostyle | Jul 8, 2005 12:38:14 AM

The job is not done. There is no reason for the Legislative Assembly to adjourn sine die while important work remains undone. Senate Bill 1000 is one of those unfinished works. While not on the list of priorities, thirty years have gone into waiting for this bill to pass. If it and the other priority bills do not pass, the Governor should call the Legislature back into special session until they do get their up or down vote!

Posted by: Lee Coleman | Jul 8, 2005 12:43:45 AM

I totally agree with Rep Merkley statement: "They are good public policy, because they respond to real problems."

Majority of these bills are simple and basic that the majority of Oregonian can truly understand and talk to each other about with not that much "support materials" or "background knowledge".

Posted by: Aaron | Jul 8, 2005 9:58:55 AM

Now that SB 1000 has passed the Senate, House Democrats are urged to call on Speaker Minnis to bring the bill to the floor for an up/down vote. Her failure to do this is yet another example of Republican contempt for liberty and justice for all, constitutional due process, and equal protection under law. There's nothing wrong with Democrats pointing these facts out vocally and both on the floor and in the press!

Posted by: Lee Coleman | Jul 8, 2005 3:08:08 PM

Didn't measure 36 pass?

What part of the citizens voice did you not hear.
SB 1000 is nothing more than a slick attempt to bypass m36.

Quit blaming the R's for the D's (liberals) failure at the polls to pass m36.
Try accepting responsibility.

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 8, 2005 3:16:10 PM

7/8 I think the problem lies with Karen Minnis and her allegiance with corporations and "big money" from the pharmaceutical/insurance industries vs. representing her constituents. How does one remove such an obstacle? It is an earmark of Oregon Congress that the Republicans continue to sabotage legislation that the people need and want. What can we do to support the House Democrats and our Democracy? We Oregonians need and want the legislation the Senate has passed and while hundreds of Oregonians have expressed their outrage about Karen Minnis' actions in the House, nothing is being done about it--why?

Posted by: Anna | Jul 8, 2005 7:17:18 PM

Not to digress further from Rep. Merkley's statement, but I had to say that Republican's must also be hard of hearing because "citizens' voices" have fallen on the deaf ears of the House Republicans who did not "hear the citizens voice" on police seizure laws, as the House passed bills that would explicitly overturn the 2000 - Measure 3 that Oregonians passed at a rate of 2 to 1 or the cougar hunting laws Oregonians passed in 1994 and reaffirmed 1996. If Republican are claim absolution then they need to at least own their hypocrisy.

Posted by: Erin | Jul 8, 2005 9:46:30 PM

Concerning Senate Bill 329 -
The 2004 Republican platform states: "The health and well-being of all Oregonians should be foremost in the minds of all elected officials representing an Oregon constituency." Some of "them" seem to have lost touch with the "party position" The house budget committee republicans ought to re-read their platform.

Posted by: spears | Jul 9, 2005 5:17:39 PM

Brevityohyeah thinks that civil unions are a "slick attempt to bypass m[easure]36." Not true. Even the attorney for the bigot group, Defense of Marriage Coalition, understands the difference between marriage (a religious and civil institution) and civil unions (a purely civil institution) and that Measure 36 is not incompatible with a civil unions bill. Even the bigot Republicans recognize the right of gays and lesbians to a few of the rights and privileges accorded to married people in proposing a reciprocal benefits bill. And, in any case, the Senate version of SB 1000 would grant nondiscrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations -- but the bigot Republicans won't allow that and havn't for the last 30 years. Thankfully, the Democratic Party is not the bigot party in Oregon and understands the difference between discrimination and nondiscrimination in all of the vital areas covered in the Senate's version of SB 1000.

Posted by: Lee Coleman | Jul 23, 2005 11:11:45 AM

"little to do"? Health care, education, civil rights, property tax and tax relief, consumer protection, drug addiction, Oregon's economy. That's a lot of little.

Posted by: hraka | Jul 26, 2005 8:15:34 AM

This sessions disaster was the responsibility of both parties. While I agree with the views of the Democrats, the Republicans can and will blame others for the lack of accomplishment. At the heart of the situation (beyond the dissension) are the actions of special interest (paid) lobbyists and their campaign contributions along with the failure of the media (assuming it is fair and unbiased). Reforms are needed ASAP. And the party that can win the hearts and minds of non-political citizens without alienating them will be successful.

Posted by: Don MacGillivray | Aug 7, 2005 11:16:47 AM

I just wanted to tell you that you have a wonderful site there. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Kathie | Oct 26, 2005 2:31:53 PM

Nice site

Posted by: Clare | Oct 28, 2005 6:23:23 AM

Great site...!! Congratulations!!

Posted by: Fredrick | Nov 8, 2005 9:54:14 AM

Great site...!! Congratulations!!

Posted by: Fredrick | Nov 8, 2005 9:56:11 AM

Of course in the case of healthcare, as in most areas, prevention is better and a great deal cheaper than stopping it later; and creating habits of healthy living among the young, habits that are likely to endure through a long lifetime, will do more good than almost any other form of social expenditure.

Posted by: Andrew Spark | Feb 13, 2006 11:26:23 PM

Welcome to our website for you World of Warcraft Gold,Wow Gold,Cheap World of Warcraft Gold,cheap wow gold,buy cheap wow gold,real wow gold,sell wow gold, ...
Here wow gold of 1000 gold at $68.99-$80.99 ,World Of Warcraft Gold,buy wow gold,sell world of warcraft gold(wow gold),buy euro gold wow Cheap wow gold,cheapest wow gold store ... buy euro gold wow wow gold--buy cheap wow gold,sell wow gold.welcome to buy cheap wow gold--buy wow gold cheap, easy, wow gold purchasing.World of Warcraft,wow gold Super ...
We can have your wow gold,buy wow gold,wow gold game,world of warcraft gold, wow Gold Cheap wow, Cheap wow gold,world of warcraft gold deal,Cheap WOW Gold ...

Welcome to our website for you World of Warcraft Gold,Wow Gold,Cheap World of Warcraft Gold,wow gold,buy cheap wow gold,real wow gold,sell wow gold, ...
Here wow gold of 1000 gold at $68.99-$80.99,World Of Warcraft Gold,buy wow gold,sell world of warcraft gold(wow gold),buy gold wow lightninghoof instock Cheap wow gold,cheapest wow gold store ...
wow gold--buy cheap wow gold,sell wow gold.welcome to buy cheap wow gold--cheap, easy, wow gold purchasing.World of Warcraft,wow gold Super ...
Wow gold- Gold for buy gold wow lightninghoof instock EU-Server: ...wow Gold EU: starting from 84,99?; 3000 WoW Gold EU: starting from 119,99?. wow Gold- Leveling Services: ...
We can have your wow Gold,buy wow Gold,wow Gold game,wow gold, Cheap wow Gold, Cheap World of Warcraft Gold,world of warcraft gold deal,buy cheap wow gold,Cheap WOW Gold ...

Here wow Gold of 1000 gold at $68.99-$80.99,World Of Warcraft Gold,wow gold buy wow Gold,sell world of warcraft gold(wow gold),Cheap wow gold,cheapest World of Warcraft Gold store ...

Posted by: xiaoxinwow | Apr 19, 2007 8:18:54 PM


Posted by: xiaoxinwow | Apr 19, 2007 8:19:48 PM

moi j arrive pa le lava l1

Posted by: Magdalena | Jun 26, 2007 10:43:00 AM

jador moi je le met dans mes favoris!!! tro coooool

Posted by: Witus | Jul 8, 2007 10:42:46 PM

I have not understood your message.

Posted by: Susanna | Jul 20, 2007 9:35:24 AM

I haven't gotten anything done. Whatever. I just don't have anything to say.

Posted by: cigar humidor shop | Aug 8, 2007 11:06:06 AM

I feel like a fog, not that it matters. I've pretty much been doing nothing , but eh. Today was a loss. I haven't gotten much done for a while.

Posted by: vinyl tote bag | Aug 14, 2007 8:11:15 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.