Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Oftentimes Oregon's prescription for its frequent legislative crises is to let them simmer a good while.

This strategy works well enough with, say, a pot of beef stew.

But it's no solution to a multi-billion-dollar budget mess.

That's why we urge voters to approve Measure 71 on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Measure 71 would bring into the modern age the state's antiquated system, which requires the Legislature meet only in odd-numbered years.

If Measure 71 passes, lawmakers would convene in Salem every year.

Just like 45 other states already do.

No longer would legislators need to haggle over the need for a special session when problems arise during even-numbered years.

2010, for instance.

Some Republican lawmakers urged their Democratic colleagues, who

control the Legislature, to call a special session this summer to try

to deal with the escalating budget deficit.

It didn't happen.

And even when it does happen - the Legislature has had eight special

sessions since 1999 - the crisis atmosphere is not conducive to forging


The other thing we like about Measure 71 is that it sets limits on how long lawmakers can linger in Salem.

Under the current system, the Legislature can stay in session as long

as it wants to. Some sessions have lasted longer than seven months.

Measure 71, though, frees lawmakers from the pressure of trying to get

everything done in a single session - an understandable pressure, since

legislators know they probably won't convene again for more than a year.

The measure would limit sessions in odd-numbered years to 160 calendar

days Sessions in even-numbered years would be limited to 35 days. The

Legislature could lengthen any session, but only if at least two-thirds

of senators and representatives agree to do so.

Cynics would say they'd rather lawmakers spend as little time as

possible in Salem, the notion being that if they're not in session they

can't spend our money or pass punitive regulations.

But the reality is that we elected these people to deal with big dilemmas.

And it's pretty hard to do that when you don't get together but once every couple of years.