Legislative session launches with burst of energy before real work starts
Friday, January 25, 2019
We are off and running. Session officially began Jan. 22 at the usual pace: a sprint.
Gov. Kate Brown and newly elected legislators were sworn in, and then with a bustle of activity, committees met to adopt rules and introduce members.
On opening day, Brown spoke to the legislative members, dignitaries, family and friends about her priorities for the 2019 session. Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek also had the opportunity to talk about their respective plans. They all spoke about the importance of investing in education opportunities for Oregonians.
Walking through the revolving door to enter the Capitol always gives me a chill. I continue to be in awe of the Capitol building, the murals and the artwork. The bustle of people and the noise of conversations fills the rotunda. Then, much like the first day of school, I engage in the usual pleasantries to legislators and other lobbyists, and I smile at the unknown lobbyists while speculating about who they will be representing this session.
Then reality sets in and I think about the exhausting work legislators have before them during the 160-day process. Many legislators from far-flung districts leave their homes to live in Salem in a hotel, rent a room or stay with someone. They must rush back to their districts over the weekends if they want to see their families and be back in the Capitol on Monday. The pay is nominal for the time and effort put in over the course of the legislative session.
The House and Senate education committees will meet this session back to back from 1 to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the Joint Committee on Student Success will meet from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I do hope you can find an opportunity to come to Salem during the session, even if it isn’t on your assigned lobby day. It is a fascinating process that pulls you in, engages you in the conversation and leaves you wondering about the outcome. It is for some, like me, addictive.