By Darrell Fuller
State Rep. Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) is the “dean” of the Oregon House of Representatives. This means he has served longer than any other person currently in the House. His first session started in January, 2001. Because of this distinction, he was elected unanimously by the House to serve as the Temporary Speaker of the House when they organized on the morning of January 12, 2015.
The House is organized every odd-numbered January based on the previous November’s election results.
As I listened to Rep. Krieger’s introduction it struck me: I’ve served as a lobbyist in the Oregon Capitol since 1996. So, not a single person in the House of Representatives has been there longer than I have. (I actually started at the Capitol as an intern in 1987 while attending Willamette University).
More startling is that I am by no means the “dean” of lobbyists. Not even close. There are easily three dozen or more lobbyists who have served longer than I have. Some of them have a decade more time in the marbled halls of the Capitol than I do.
Having officially started the session in a half day of pomp and circumstance on January 12th, the politicians are now taking a much needed two week vacation. They will return to Salem February 2nd and the real hard work will begin then.
Part of the opening ceremonies is publicly releasing all of the bills (bills are proposals to create a new law, or change or remove an existing law) which have been written since the last time the legislature met. Politicians, lobbyists, agency heads, reporters and others are all sifting through a foot-high stack of proposals numbering 1,433. And those are just the start. By the time the Legislature concludes in late June or early July, more than 4,000 bills will be introduced for discussion and debate. Only a fraction of them will actually get a public hearing before a committee and even fewer will actually become law.
Otto von Bismarck reportedly once quipped, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
Ignore him and watch the legislative process closely. They won’t pass any laws that guarantee your business makes a profit. But they can (and often do) pass laws that impact your bottom line.
Darrell Fuller is a seasoned (not old) lobbyist and association manager with more than a quarter century of experience aimlessly wandering the marbled halls of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. He can be reached at email@example.com or 971-388-1786.