legislature

Cacaphony / Wikimedia Commons

Oregon lawmakers had hoped to finish up their legislative session over the weekend. But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, the final gavel is expected to fall sometime Monday. Democrats control both chambers and the governor’s office, and they claimed a series of victories. But many of the highest-profile agenda items didn’t go as planned. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman explains.

It could soon be a lot more expensive to be caught texting while driving in Oregon. State lawmakers voted Sunday to double the maximum fine for texting behind the wheel to $500.

It was dubbed the "Grand Bargain." But the carefully crafted deal to raise taxes and cut public pensions crashed and burned in the Oregon legislature Tuesday. 

It's still not clear when the Oregon legislature will wrap up its work for the year. Lawmakers could vote as soon as Tuesday on a controversial package that would raise some taxes and cut benefits to retired public employees.

But lawmakers have other work to do, such as finalizing budgets for several large state agencies.

One might expect that they would be in a great hurry to get out of here before the Fourth of July but remember, their original adjournment target was last Friday, June 28th. So they've already blown through that deadline.

Oregon Lawmakers Head Into Final Days Of Session

Jul 1, 2013

Oregon lawmakers are heading into the home stretch of their legislative session Monday. The closing days could include some high stakes votes over taxes and public pension cuts. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

The Washington House has approved a $10 billion transportation package that includes a 10.5 cent gas tax increase over two years. The vote Thursday follows a failed effort Wednesday to approve the same measure.

It was a rare do-over vote on the House floor. And State Representative Marko Liias, a Democrat, acknowledged as much. He said, “As a House we rarely reconsider our decisions. You know when we make a decision, it’s pretty final. But this is a singular moment. This is a time when inaction is a loss of competitiveness.”

The Washington legislature hopes to deliver a budget to Governor Jay Inslee by the end of business Friday. This after the House and Senate reached a handshake deal on a $33.6 billion state budget for the next two years. The agreement – after weeks of negotiations – should avert a government shutdown on Monday.

The official announcement came from Governor Inslee who was flanked by legislative leaders. “We are happy," he said. "And I know we are all relieved, to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium.”

Pam Roach

It can be one of the perks of elected office: free trips to foreign lands. Recently, several Washington state lawmakers were invited on a 10-day tour of Turkey and Azerbaijan. This particular overseas excursion has raised questions in the Capitol about when a foreign trip is legitimate legislative business and when it’s a junket.

The push is on to get a final budget deal in Olympia. Top legislative leaders met Thursday to see if they could bridge their final differences. Meanwhile, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what a July 1 government shutdown would look like if there’s no agreement.

The governor’s office says without a new budget, 34 state agencies and commissions would completely shut down on July 1st. Another 24 would partially shutter. On the closure list: state parks, the lottery, and some mental health services.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over whether to make additional cuts to the state's pension system for public employees. The debate will affect every unit of government in Oregon. Most of the conversation at the capitol has surrounded the impact to state agencies and schools. But city and county governments are also watching the pension battle closely.

Pages