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The Work Starts Now. It is Time for New Leadership in the Oregon House!

Merkley_3_1We need your help! Please make a contribution to the Oregon House Democrats campaign today, and help us spread the word –

We must keep Karen Minnis from returning as Speaker in 2007!

We need citizens from across Oregon to join us in this fight!

On Friday, the Oregon House limped to its sad conclusion for the 2005 Legislative Session. The need for a change in House leadership has never been clearer. The record of the 2005 House is shameful. The session almost outlasted the baseball season, and had this been a game, the House Republicans and the most powerful special interests won hands down, having teamed up to run up the score on Oregonians.

Democrats in the Legislature fought for a common sense agenda that benefits every Oregonian in every community from Burns to Astoria. But in the face of the House Republican caucus, ruled with an iron grip by Karen Minnis, our fight for fully funded schools, lower health care costs and a strong economy was crushed.

By making a contribution to the Oregon House Democrats campaign committee today you can stop the House Republicans and their special interest teammates from running up the score on Oregonians in 2007.

Here’s how they ran up the score in 2005:

First Inning: Tobacco Companies

• House Republicans stonewalled HB 2940, which would have reinstated the voter-approved 10 cent cigarette tax to fund the Oregon Health Plan.
• House Speaker Karen Minnis personally killed SB 931, which would have required tobacco companies to sell “fire-safe cigarettes” in Oregon.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 2
Oregonians 0

Second Inning: Drug Companies

• House Republicans killed SB 329, which would have expanded the state’s drug purchasing pool to let small business and individuals save money on their prescriptions.
• House Republicans killed SB 1011, which would have allowed victims of the drug Vioxx, and their families, to seek justice in court.
• House Republicans killed HB 2817, which would have required disclosure of the billions of dollars in gifts drug companies give to doctors.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 5
Oregonians 0

Third Inning: Insurance Companies

• House Republicans killed HB 2837, which would have required health insurance companies to get public approval before they raise our insurance rates.
• House Republicans voted down SB 849, which would have required pharmacies and health insurance companies to make emergency contraception available to sexual-assault victims.
• House Republicans killed HB 2920, which would have required all insurance companies to get public approval before they raise our insurance rates.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 8
Oregonians 0

Fourth Inning: School Bureaucrats

• House Republicans killed SB 639, which would have saved taxpayers as much as $100 million by creating a statewide health insurance pool for teachers.
• House Republicans voted down SB 766, which would have restricted payouts to retiring school administrators, the infamous “golden parachutes.”
• House Republicans killed HB 3433, which would have ensured that tax dollars get to the classroom by limiting the amount of funds that can be spent on administration.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 11
Oregonians 0

Fifth Inning: Corporate Polluters

• House Republicans forced passage of the polluter tax loophole in SB 3041, which gives tax money to the worst polluters in Oregon simply for following the law.
• House Republicans used unconstitutional language in the Department of Environmental Quality budget to block steps that would reduce auto emissions.
• House Republicans prohibited state government from taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in HR 3.
• House Republicans weakened the provisions for pesticide-use reporting in SB 290, which protects consumers from the harmful effects of pesticides.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 15
Oregonians 0

Sixth Inning: Predatory Lenders and Ultra-Wealthy Tax Cheats

• House Republicans gutted SB 480, which would have reformed the abuse of offshore tax shelters by the ultra-wealthy and the most powerful corporations like Enron.
• House Republicans voted down SB 545, which would have reined in predatory payday lending practices.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 17
Oregonians 0

Seventh Inning: Corporate Tax Giveaways

• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2332, one of the biggest tax giveaways in Oregon history. This shameless bill would have given away nearly $500 million, and would have required deep cuts to services in order to balance Oregon’s books, such as elimination of Oregon’s entire system of community colleges.
• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2542, a massive tax giveaway to out of state corporations.
• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2540, which would have let corporations off the hook for funding public schools.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 20
Oregonians 0

Eighth Inning: Abuse of Power

• Minnis changed the rules in the early innings of the session to give herself the power to fire the Chief Clerk of the House (the umpire).
• Minnis abused the rules in the middle innings of the session to stop legislators from challenging her with floor ammendments.
• Minnis changed the rules in the final innings of the session by preventing a majority of House members, of either party, from challenging her by moving bills from committees.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 23
Oregonians 0

Ninth Inning: Secrecy

• Minnis embraced partisanship when she unilaterally broke up the bipartisan Ways and Means Committee. As The Oregonian recently reported, this allowed Minnis to secretly negotiate on behalf of the special interests, in backroom meetings, with only six other elected officials.

Final Score:

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 24
Oregonians 0

This makes it clear that the Speaker’s agenda is all about helping the most powerful special interests at the expense of the rest of us. We can and must do much better! Oregon can’t afford another losing season in 2007 with Karen Minnis as Speaker.

By making a contribution today, you can help put Democrats in control of the Oregon House for the first time since 1990. With Democrats in control, the most powerful special interests in 2007 will be our kids, our seniors, and the working families of Oregon.

By forwarding this message to five of your friends, you can help spread the word about our cause. We won’t win in 2006 unless supporters like you get involved by making a contribution and asking your friends to help.

Today is the start of a long fight for the future of our State. Together, we can all make a difference for every community in Oregon.

August 8, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
TrackBacks (0) | Comments (51 so far)
Permalink: The Work Starts Now. It is Time for New Leadership in the Oregon House!


So how quickly you turn back to a campaign site and I thought this was supposed to be about public discourse. Figures...

Posted by: Quickly | Aug 8, 2005 11:16:39 PM

Love the blog, Kari did a great job, and you're absolutely right, its time to show Karen Minnis what it feels like to be in the minority.
A couple of comments and questions:
First off, unless I've got my numbers wrong, we need three seats to break even, 4 for a majority. Do you know yet how many Ds and Rs will be retiring, or at least which ones you speculate will be? How many competitive districts are we looking at for 06? How many defending, how many (for lack of a better term) attacking?

Linda Flores must be one, Minnis another, both of whom I'd love to MIA in 2007. If I were in your position, I'd pick one race to focus on through the end of this year, either an open seat or a really exciting Democratic pickup, and use it as a catalyst for fundraising, especially online. Rather than just talking about how we'll take back the house, lets put a face to a dollar and make it personal.

Along those same lines, it'd be especially cool if average Dems had some kind of a "target list" to get excited about, in terms of who OHD think are the most vulnerable Republican candidates. Put in the ones that are our best shots, but also highlight one or two "reach" seats, for those of us who like a challenge to get into. Look at how the race in OH-2 generated interest online because of a stellar candidate in an uphill battle. The same thing can happen in Oregon.

Finally, recruit candidates we can get excited about. Don't be afraid of running ardent progressives in more moderate districts; as Hackett also showed, a progressive offense can be effective in conservative areas. The more progressives you put up, the more money you'll be able to raise online. Lets make 2006 the year where Oregon blew the netroots out of the water with our slate of progressive candidates. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd open up my pocketbook for strong Oregon progressives. No Republican district is safe from a strong progressive leader with money.

So yea, you find strong candidates to challenge Scott, Flores and most of all Minnis, and you can count on me for at least $100 for each of their challengers.


I'm disappointed that Rep. Tomei and Rep. Rosenbaum haven't made posts on the blog. (at least the links from their names doesn't go to any posts) I'm in Tomei's district and Rosenbaum is an alumni of Reed, where I go to school. Let's hear from our fabulous East Portland women!

Posted by: Christopher Nicholson | Aug 9, 2005 1:15:57 AM

Shaa--Zhamm look who wants to be speaker by begging for $$$ on a blog paid for by whom?


Posted by: rinowatch | Aug 9, 2005 6:37:02 AM

Since the speaker and her buddy Mr. Scott from Canby refused to let even members of their own party into the sandbox to play, it's really good to see what might have been debated and or passed, had debate been allowed.........

I have no doubt that many of these money saving, school supporting bills would have passed if the Repiblican "leaders" had allowed the state to run like a representative republic.

How can support for predatory lending, collecting fees from ratepayers under the guise of tax obligations and pocketing the profits, non-disclosure of donors, and protection of bloated school administrator compensation packages, be THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE?

They really are Republicans in Name Only.

Posted by: Pat Ryan | Aug 9, 2005 9:04:03 AM

I think the key for the Democratic party is not to stand with his hand out like a five year old, whining all the while that the big bad republicans ran off with the ball.
Democrats need to get a clue and realize that all the complaining and finger pointing in the world wont change a thing, and bad bills get passed even under Demo leadership. Todays dems seem incapable of interspection, choosing instead to lay blame and tattle when we should be focusing instead on what GOOD has been accomplished (albiet very little) and laying the groundwork for the future.
There is nothing more iritating then a failed politician pointing out how little his party has accomplished while asking you for a donation. How bout this for reform.

Unpaid elected officials (hard to be beholden to $ if there is none)

Outlaw lobby groups access to elected officials (all Lobby groups)

All discussions (ALL) between officials must be a matter of public record for immediate release, no more closed door VeraKatz style

Simple changes in what we allow our officials to do would make a world of difference... perhaps elected officials really just need a good spanking. They cry like babies, fight like bratty siblings, tattle on eachother and are childishly incapable of admitting when they are wrong.

Lets really shake things up and re-elect no one. A completely new batch of legislators, leadership, and a total turnover in the governors office; That is what Oregon really needs. To flush the toilet in Salem and carry this crap away.

Perhaps Ill vote for libertarians this go-round.

Posted by: Chory Ferguson | Aug 9, 2005 9:31:54 AM


Thanks for the post, and yep, it does sound like the Libertarians might be where you want to go. It will be a complete waste of time, of course, but if you can't get beyond the kind of blanked "all elected officials are the same and they all have to be replaced" kind of attitude, there is no chance for progress anyway.

There are HUGE differences between the parties, and we plan to run on those differences and win.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Aug 9, 2005 11:11:36 AM

What Rep. Buckley has said is very true. There is a huge difference in the parties in the Oregon Legislature. I saw this first hand as an intern in an office through the majority of the session. Minnis has been running her party like Hitler did with the Nazi party. She has been grabbing at power since the session opened and her personal interests always came forward. She did after all want to end the session on June 30 because she was expecting the birth of a grand daughter.

Instead of doing the work of the people she was living in her own little world. On the rare occations that one of her party members spoke out against her, Minnis would throw a tantrum until she got things her way. The term BULLY Politics seems to fit her best. This isn't to say that all Rs or Ds are perfect. In fact there are problems throughout. The difference is the Democratic Leadership tried to reach out and come to a compromise on many issues. The Democrats spoke out and up for all of us, not just those favored from the speakers podium.

Instead of posting on the blog and squabbling with people about who is right, I got involved in the daily workings of the Legislature and tried to make a difference for the betterment of the state. Wanting a good and stable education, resonable healthcare, protection from corporate interests, and equal rights for all people should not be a partisan issue but an issue for all parties.

Posted by: OR House Intern | Aug 9, 2005 12:45:03 PM

Should be careful about making Nazi allusions...

Posted by: Peter Bray | Aug 9, 2005 1:13:38 PM

This was a great list. I'm personally thrilled and proud to be able to say that I'm a constituent of Rep. Merkley.

I thought the things that he and Rep. Buckley said lately, in public and electronically, are things that need to be said.

I've trackbacked this post from my own blog.

Thanks for your hard work, you guys, You keep it up!

Posted by: Samuel John Klein | Aug 9, 2005 2:34:20 PM

If a representative can make Nazi allusions on the floor of the house I don't see why they can not also be made here, especially if the jack boot fits.

Posted by: OR House Intern | Aug 9, 2005 2:46:37 PM

Dear Readers,

The staff respectfully requests that blog participants refrain from making comparisons to former facist regimes. Thank you!

Posted by: Jon Isaacs | Aug 9, 2005 3:03:50 PM

I'm very disappointed that your list of abuses neglected to mention the legislative massacre orchestrated by Speaker Minnis to prevent a House vote on SB1000, civil unions and nondiscrimination for gay and lesbian citizens. Her shameful actions to wrangle this bill from a fair up or down vote is more than worthy of your mention. If your efforts are worthy of my financial support, your party needs to not be so forgetful of our concenns.

Posted by: David Deyo | Aug 9, 2005 5:50:37 PM


Thanks for the post. Speaker Minnis' refusal to allow a vote on civil unions and non-discrimination will definitely be a major campaign issue for us. The Democratic Party of Oregon believes that every Oregonian deserves the same civil rights. Period. We fought for this all session, and we will take this to every campaign stop we make in the next year and two and a half months.

You make a good point in that it should be in the above list, and it should be repeated continuously. And when we are the majority party in the House, civil unions and non-discrimination will become the law in Oregon.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Aug 10, 2005 7:23:27 AM

I know I maybe shouldn't say this, but in reply to Rep. Buckley,

Isn't there a difference between having rights parity on the state level and having rights parity on the federal level? The federal government defines taxes in terms of marriage if I'm not mistaken, and the only way a state will ever challenge DOMA is to have actual gay marriage. I'm all for rights partiy, but if Democrats are satisfied to give gays and lesbians a special law, rather than showing that everyone deserves equal rights by the same name, then that's a bit sad.

I see the writing on the wall, the amendment passed, so now any Democrat who stands up for gay marriage as well as civil unions will get shouted down by moderates. I still think those democratic party officials who believe that civil unions don't go far enough, regardless of what the voters have said, should be willing to stand up for what they believe in. 40% of Oregon voters rejected 36, and the Democratic party should not forget that.

Posted by: Christopher Nicholson | Aug 10, 2005 11:58:08 AM


You're absolutely right about the difference between state-level equality and federal-level equality. The Oregon (anti-) Family Council conveniently forgot that civil unions would have still denied many benefits, privileges, immunities, etc of marriage (i.e. survivor benefits, Social Security, portability, etc.), simply because of DOMA and other federal laws. But they went on parading their message of hate and bigotry, that was so easily bought by Karen Minnis and her lapdog Dennis Richardson.

Civil unions are not a "special law" as you call them (nor would I call it that anymore). They are a compromise that will help protect Oregon's gay and lesbian families in the interim.

Yes, Measure 36 passed in Oregon, but because Dems (and some Republicans) went for civil unions as a compromise doesn't mean they haven't forgotten, abandoned, or written off gay and lesbian Oregonians. Civil unions are supported by a majority of Oregonians, and a majority of voters in Oregon do not support same-sex marriage. I know, it’s hard for me to see that in Oregon too. But measure 36 was a constitutional amendment, and the constitution can only be amended by a vote of the people and cannot be changed in the Legislature. So until the rest of Oregon wakes up to the meaning of equality for gays and lesbians and repeals Measure 36, civil unions ARE supported by a majority and should have been passed this session were it not for Karen Minnis’ authoritarian rule. Dems in Salem were standing up with all their might for gay and lesbian families by introducing and supporting civil unions.

Posted by: JTT | Aug 10, 2005 9:05:52 PM

The only reason I called it a special law is because as far as I understood it, only gay and lesbian couples could apply for a civil union. I can't find any simple answer from the 2 minute google search I just did, so if any two adults were allowed to apply for a civil union under SB 1000, please correct me. I'm against putting gays and lesbians into a special class, either by giving heterosexual couples rights gays cannot have, or by giving us rights that heterosexuals cannot have. If i'm wrong about straight couples not being able to apply, then I take back my comment about the rights being "special".

At the same time, its still a case of seperate and unequal. I really don't want to see progressive politicians get comfortable with only providing gays with a dulled down version of true marriage equality. I know it doesn't poll as well, but sometimes you just have to stand up for what's right.

On the other hand, the Dems did do a good job with civil unions, and they're certainly acting more progressive on this issue than Democrats in other states. So yea, thanks for that, Jeff and all the other House and Senate Dems!

Posted by: Christopher Nicholson | Aug 10, 2005 9:28:14 PM

I'm proud of our House Dems. They may have met insurmountable obstacles, but they fought hard. Rep. Merkley, you're a good leader. Thank you!

Now, on to getting rid of Minnis. It seems like she has a huge red target on her, um, posterior right now. Between the Multnomah County Dems, DFO, DPO, FuturePAC, and every other progressive organization, I'm sure we can turn that district blue. We will need a few more seats, though. So, Rep. Merkley, let us know what, who, and where.

Posted by: Jenny Greenleaf | Aug 10, 2005 10:36:23 PM


You certainly have a point about the original SB 1000 instituting separate but equal in Oregon, but I don't think they even came to the threshold of equal as both you and I have already pointed out. Truly, as Sen. Brown said, would anyone have traded in their marriage for a civil union. But I think your point should be directed to BRO and not to House Democrats.

Ultimately, I think the point is that equality and justice is an ever progressing project and unfortunately as the process goes, change doesn't happen overnight. Civil unions, as a step toward equality and justice for gay and lesbian Oregonians, shouldn't be thrown out on face because they don't get society all the way to justice and equality.

I don't think that any politician was ready to "get comfortable" with civil unions as equal for gays and lesbians. As I posted previously, with Measure 36 enacted by the voters, civil unions were what the Legislature could proceed with and I think the Senate Dems put up an incredible fight. For same-sex marriage, you'd have to turn back to the voters. But until that time comes, let's get behind the progressive leaders we have in Oregon like Rep. Merkley and the House Dems and take back the House from shenanigans like Karen Minnis.

Posted by: JTT | Aug 10, 2005 10:49:27 PM

I'm a firm supporter in equal rights in this state wihtout regard to sexual orientation. Regarding Chris Nicholson's remarks about a "special law" for gays and lesbians, I think a candid look at the facts as they stand are in order.

Measure 36 passed, so as much as I want to see full parity in rights, that's just not in the cards right now. Civil unions are a way to close the disparity between the full slate of rights afforded to straight couples who can get married and the complete absence of such rights for same-sex couples.

Closing a gap by improving the support for gay and lesbian couples, who even after a civil unions law passed would find themselves below the support given to married couples, is scarcely special rights. Straight couples who want legal recognition for ther relationship already have a solution open to them: marriage.

If anybody is enjoying special rights in Oregon on the basis of their sexual orientation, it is the straight folks who have the full support of marriage behind them.

I'm very proud of the fight waged by Dems in both the Senate and the House. The reason self-appointed monarch Minnis twisted the legislative process to prevent SB1000 from getting a fair up or down vote is that she knew it had enough bipartisan support to pass.

As a gay man in a committed relationship, I won't consider the battle won until there is parity in marriage. But I will accept civil unions as progress. As Dr. King said, "The road forward tends in the direction of liberty."

Posted by: David Deyo | Aug 13, 2005 12:28:26 AM

The "rights" DD wants can be found in Massachusetts & Vermont. Oregonians have spoken!

Get a clue

Posted by: rights | Aug 13, 2005 3:37:53 PM

Not all Oregonians have spoken, "rights".

Nice evil little thing to say.

"DD" may need to get a clue, but you need to get a brain, a heart, and a lot of compassion.

Posted by: Samuel John Klein | Aug 16, 2005 2:56:42 AM

"klein", do you have any "compassion" for the over 60% who have spo36ken in Oregon? hmmmm?

such venom re: brains, heart, is not a sign of
"compassion", nor is this:

.... Staying away from Republican officeholders would amount to a start.

Posted by: rights | Aug 16, 2005 6:24:07 AM

Compassion for the 60% "who have spoken"? Why? They won the election. They need no compassion. I am also not required to agree with them.

I'm not the one who's suggesting that anyone who doesn't like the imposed status quo either shut up or pack up and leave the place they call home. That's a nasty thing to say-to anybody.

You see, I don't agree with you. I also, however, do not suggest that you pack up and move just because you might not care for your neighbor.

Such a remark has a great deal more "venom" than any offhanded comment I may have made on my Blogger profile. I am also not required to trust Republicans, and my remark is hardly as bad as what gets said about Democrats by Republicans most days. You are in a pretty weak position to be lecturing.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about that.

Posted by: Samuel John Klein | Aug 16, 2005 6:43:27 AM

glad to see i wasn't the only one to notice the lack of inclusion of SB1000 on the scorecard.

i think that the next "version" of a civil unions bill should apply to couples without regard to gender. i'm in a heterosexual relationship and my partner and i have decided to forego marriage until such time that the institution is open to all. we would welcome a civil union so we could have some of the benefits/protections of marriage while the fight goes on.

Posted by: colin | Aug 18, 2005 11:49:08 AM

let's see what's next?

mother & spinster daughter?
father & single son?
any parent with ill adult child?

the combinations are many

Posted by: rights | Aug 18, 2005 2:23:26 PM

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