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April 26th, 2006 Jon Weatherford | Rogue of the Week
 

Rogues Of The Week

     
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Before the political leadership in Salem basks too long in the afterglow of last Thursday's lightning round of lawmaking in the Legislature, Rogue Desk operatives took a look into what went down in the Capitol.

And we ended up empathetic to lawmakers outside that self-congratulatory leadership who felt like so many potted plants adorning the highly choreographed, Singin' in the Rain-worthy session.

Yes, cutting through red tape is good.

And yes, our trio of Rogues, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, House Speaker Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village) and Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), stage-managed an extravaganza in which five key bills passed in just six hours.

But this is a bicameral legislature, not the Soviet Politburo. And we'd hoped for something more than ruthless expediency, especially when the state Emergency Board often deals with money issues between sessions. And a little debate might have been nice.

"Our job was to ratify the deal that had been made," says state Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland).

Those deals included regulations on payday loans, tougher sentencing for sex crimes committed against young victims, and funding measures for schools and social programs.

And while our admittedly unusual trio of Rogues congratulates themselves for the efficiency of the special session days before the May 16 primary, keep something else in mind.

These are the same folks who were largely responsible for the fact that these important bills weren't voted on last year when the Legislature was up and running for seven-plus months.

Take the payday-loan legislation, which was quashed by Minnis but then resurfaced as an issue when Portland and other city councils in Multnomah County began taking regulatory steps the Legislature wouldn't.

"There's no question that this should have been debated during the general session," said state Sen. Charlie Ringo (D-Beaverton).

Our thoughts exactly.

 
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