State lawmakers voice frustration
Missed opportunities and legislative arrogance.
That was how state Sen. Doug Whitsett, RKlamath Falls, characterized the 2007 legislative session to about 40 residents attending a town hall meeting Friday at the Klamath Basin Senior Center.
W hitsett and fellow Republican lawmakers, state Reps. Bill Garrard of Klamath Falls and George Gilman of Medford, organized the meeting.
Those in attendance told the lawmakers that the Legislature wasn’t paying attention to Oregonians on issues ranging from management of natural resources to same sex unions.
The three lawmakers painted a picture of frustration with the session.
There were some successes, such as the passage of bills affecting schools to the halt of bills that would have required more water measurements.
Despite those victories, they said they fought a constant battle with Democrats who wanted to raise taxes and fees even when the state had a high amount of projected extra revenue.
T h e r e w e r e a l s o attempts to push cons t i t u t i o n a l c h a n g e s by over turning voterapproved laws such as those that banned samesex marriages.
“It was a long and discouraging session for us,” Whitsett said.
Garrard said he was particularly disappointed that a bipartisan solution to Measure 37, a landuse law passed by voters, could not be found.
Instead, he said Democrats pushed a new ballot measure onto the coming November ballot, Ballot Measure 49, which would eliminate 85 percent of the law as it is now, stripping private property rights.
If passed, the new law would limit claims to no more than three houses and open claimants to legal action from others.
“Land use in Oregon will unfortunately be decided in the circuit courts of Oregon,” Garrard said.
Richard Lemming, a Klamath Falls resident, told the lawmakers he was concerned that the Legislature overturned a voter-approved measure that prohibited same-sex marriages.
L e m m i n g s a i d h e was working on a petition along with Klamath County Republican Women to reinstate the voter-approved ban, and he asked the lawmakers if there were similar efforts elsewhere in the state and whether such efforts would be effective.
“If we get it on the ballot, I’m sure we can beat both measures,” Gilman said.
Lawmakers said they hoped to pass some legislation for seniors during the special session in February.
They also expected to deal with illegal immigration and the possibility of annual legislative sessions.
But don’t expect a sudden burst of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, they said.
“I think you’ll see the Legislature become more partisan,” Garrard said.