December 2018 A Look at the 2019 Legislative Session
A quick look back at the November 2018 General election tells us that Democrat Kate Brown won, in what will be, her final four-year term as Governor of Oregon. Gov. Brown has been in state leadership for some 28 years. Appointed to the Oregon House in 1991, she has served in the Senate, as well, before winning the Secretary of State job in 2009. She became Governor following the resignation of John Kitzhaber in 2015. Meanwhile, the Oregon Senate Democrats will have an 18 – 12 super-majority over Republicans. In the Oregon House of Representatives, Democrats will have a substantial super-majority with 38 members, while Republicans have 22 members. Why is a super-majority important? When the legislature has a vote to increase revenue (tax), there must be a 3/5 majority voting aye in both houses. 18 votes in the Senate and 36 votes in the House constitute a super-majority. For the legislature to vote on any bill a quorum must be present. In the Senate that is 20 members and in the House of Representatives it is 40 members present. During a legislative session the majority party has a definite advantage. With Democrats having control of the Governor’s office and both houses of the legislature one could make the assumption that Democrats could pretty much control the entire process during the 2019 session. While it is true for most issues, increasing taxes could see some strong opposition. Not all Democrat caucus members will automatically follow the direction of Democrat leaders. Most all legislators have two primary principles they follow, 1. They want to represent Oregonians best interests, 2. In order to do 1. They must be reelected. Rural legislators have different viewpoints than urban legislators. In order to do business, a quorum must be present on the floor. If Republicans are staunchly opposed to a tax proposal and they want to make a strong statement, they do have the ability to not be present when a tax vote comes up, thereby not providing a quorum. This tactic is used very sparingly and could have political consequences. During the 2019 legislative session these are the leaders of each house: Senate President – Peter Courtney (D) – Salem Senate Democrat Leader – Ginny Burdick (D) – Portland Senate Republican Leader – Herman Baertschiger (R) – Grants Pass House Speaker - Tina Kotek  (D) – Portland
House Democrat Leader – Jennifer Williamson (D) – Portland House Republican Leader – Carl Wilson R – Grants Pass
John Watt, JWA Public Affairs, 
President & CEO