Oregon House Debates Whether To Ban Anonymous Bills

Feb 24, 2017
Originally published on February 23, 2017 5:41 pm

Members of the Oregon House are considering a proposal to ban the long-accepted practice of allowing members to introduce bills anonymously.

Most bills have either a lawmaker or state agency's name attached. But legislative rules allow some measures to be introduced with no name on them at all.

House Republican leader Mike McLane has proposed changing that in the interest of transparency.

"We probably need to set aside the accusation that we're trying to move bills without being transparent whose bills they are,” McLane said.

McLane made his case to the House Rules Committee. Some members argued that not knowing who's behind a bill allows them to make an unbiased decision.

"Sometimes just knowing who introduced it will predispose you one way or another, towards it or against it,” Democrat Barbara Smith Warner said.

If the change is approved, it would only affect the Oregon House.

If representatives do decide to no longer allow anonymous bills, it would end a practice that's been in place for generations.

"The language you're considering amending comes from 1967," House Chief Clerk Tim Sekerak told the committee.

If the House Rules Committee approves the proposal, it would go to the House floor for a vote by the whole chamber. While the change would technically be in effect only for the current legislative session, most House rules are carried over to subsequent legislative assemblies.

But some Republican lawmakers want to make the change permanent. They've introduced a proposed change to the Oregon Constitution that would require every legislative member to be introduced by at least one Senator or one Representative. Such a change would have to be approved by Oregon voters.

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