In Salem, legislators do business of the people


News staff writer

May 11, 2005

Every day since mid-January, Rep. Patti Smith and Sen. Rick Metsger have walked up the front steps of Oregon’s capital to go to work.

But, once inside the rotunda, he turns to the left and his third floor Senate office. She takes the stairs to the right and enters her House office on the second floor.

And then they both get down to business.

After years in their respective elected offices, Hood River County’s legislators have memorized the daily routine so the drill seems comfortable and easy.

But they have also learned that the fight to get legislation through the system can sometimes be daunting. And sometimes the most persuasive political arguments take place, not in the Senate or House chambers, but in the hallways between committee hearings and floor votes. With the regular 2005-06 biennium session expected to wind up in early June, the talk in the corridors these days is increasingly on Measure 37 and the discussions are becoming more heated.

The new law, which went into effect on Dec. 2, seeks to restore the value of property lost because of government regulations. Metsger and Smith expect the Legislature to pick up the issue sometime this month and both are prepared for the highly charged debate that is likely to ensue. Smith acknowledges that Measure 37 is definitely the “hot button” issue of this political season and she and Metsger are both tracking it closely — knowing that their time to stand up and be counted is fast approaching.

Metsger said during the decision-making process on those types of controversial issues, the beauty of the American political system is revealed.

He said contested bills cannot make their way through the policymaking process without numerous opportunities for comment and rewrites. In order for a newly written bill to become law, it must first go before House Speaker Karen Minnis or Senate President Peter Courtney to be assigned to an appropriate committee. That legislative arm then takes public testimony and either decides to move the bill forward, recommend that it be revised for clarification, or kill it altogether.

If a text is generally agreed upon by the Senate or House in which it originated, it is then sent to the floor for a full vote of all members.

Again, the bill can die due to lack of support, or it can be approved and forwarded to a committee in the other chamber for review. Once the proposal makes it over that hurdle — not an easy task since the Senate is in the control of Democrats and the House has a Republican majority — then it goes to a full vote of that secondary body.

If concurrence is gained from both sides then Gov. Ted Kulongoski has to sign off before the new law becomes official.


While the debate heats up over Measure 37, Smith and Metsger are busy finalizing other state business. Recently, the bipartisan team let reporter RaeLynn Ricarte observe them at work in Salem on behalf of their constituents. That visit produced a profile on each of the elected officials that is featured in today’s Kaleidoscope, page B1.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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