The Time Is Now

Support local, independent reporting.

Help the city we love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.


Salem Lobbyists Slapped For Wasting Capitol’s Broadband

Legislative administrator forced to block access to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, dating sites and gambling sites.

The Oregon Legislature convened Feb. for its even-year short session, which can last for a maximum of 35 days.

As lawmakers debate controversial cap and trade, gun and healthcare bills, lobbyists are busy as well—apparently streaming internet content that has nothing to do with the job at hand.

Related: One Day After Florida School Shooter Kills 17, Oregon House Passes Gun Control Bill.

The Legislature provides free internet service for lawmakers and the lobbyists, who outnumber the electeds more than ten-to-one.

Most lobbyists in the building belong to an association called the Capitol Club, which sets lobbying rules and coordinates with legislative administration.

This week, Dale Penn, Jr., the chairman of the Capitol Club's technology committee, informed his colleagues that the excessive use of non-legislative internet websites was hoovering up much the Capitol's broadband capacity.

In a Feb. 15 email to Capitol Club members, Penn said that the excessive usage was forcing the implementation of a new password or "prompt" to rein in excessive streaming.

Here's how Penn explained the change to his colleagues:

Penn points out that lots of people use the Capitol's free WiFi, including legislative staff, members of the public, state agency personnel and journalists.

"The changes implemented were an attempt in increasing security and reducing bandwith by all users," Penn said in a text message. "Not just lobbyists."

The short session—with or without Hulu, HBO and less mainstream web fare—is scheduled to continue through March 11.