We'll give this to former Sen. Roger Beyer : Using a special legislative session for family business is creative. It's also Roguish .
Beyer, a Molalla Republican, resigned his Senate seat mid-January to become a lobbyist. But he filed Senate Bill 1059 before he left—and before the Feb. 4 start of the first regularly scheduled even-year session in Oregon history. Senators limited themselves to introducing one bill each in the short session.
Beyer's issue: a bill that would help his brother, Stanley. Stan Beyer currently forks over $750 a month to send his kids to the Silver Falls School District rather than to the Molalla River School District, where he lives.
SB 1059 would require school districts to release and admit an equal number of students with adjacent districts free of any tuition charges.
Maybe that's a good idea. And maybe every lawmaker should help out a relative by introducing legislation. But superintendents from both affected districts testified last week that the issue is better resolved locally. So did Chuck Bennett, a lobbyist for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.
Bennett notes another complication: Mary Beyer, the Beyers' sister-in-law, serves on the Molalla River School Board, which refused to release Stan Beyer's kids to Silver Falls. "We've got an inter-family squabble here which has found itself into the legislative process," Bennett says.
"Just because former Sen. Beyer wants something to happen doesn't make it good policy," adds Bennett.
Beyer disagrees, saying he has long pursued legislation that would allow any student to attend school in any district.
"This is an appropriate use of legislative time, 'Beyer says. "What's significant is not that the issue involves my family but that families have a right to choose."
But spending precious legislative time on family matters undermines the idea that even-year sessions will address big issues. "This bill would not be the poster child for annual legislative sessions," Bennett says.