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Study first, then make new laws (if necessary)

Posted by on January 13th, 2011 at 11:35 am

I Just want to quickly point out that there’s an alternative method for legislators to “start a conversation” on complex and/or potentially controversial issues (other than proposing a new law that would prohibit a popular and safe activity).

The current legislative session has two such bills that I’m aware of…

The first, which we covered back in December, is from the House Transportation committee. Instead of proposing a bill about bike licensing/registration (which we know would be met with outcry), they’ve drafted a bill, HB 2331, that directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to do a study on the feasibility of the idea. If the idea is found to have merit, then legislation could follow.

Another bill that calls for a feasibility study is HB 2032. The bill, introduced by Portland House Rep. Jules Bailey, directs the DOT to conduct a study regarding the cost and feasibility of replacing Marquam Bridge (the I-5 freeway that crosses the Willamette River south of downtown Portland. And, as we shared back in 2006, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think).

Both of these bills are excellent first steps in learning more about an issue — and then determining whether or not to propose legislation. The problem with Rep. Mitch Greenlick’s approach (and others before him) is that he has gone about it backwards.

In a story about his bill that was just published by The Oregonian, local bike shop owner Todd Fahrner puts it this way, “He says he wants to start a discussion. It seems patently ridiculous to start a discussion by trying to criminalize something.”

Representative Ben Cannon, who got his share of push-back for proposing a beer tax last session, says he’s learned his lesson from that episode and is now, “… more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce.”

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Comments
  • Daniel Evans January 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Todd Fahrner is spot on! Starting a discussion by introducing legislation ? What is it about the democratic process that Rep. Greenlick is missing? Aren’t you supposed to discuss your ideas and get community involvement and feedback (oh, and a fact or two wouldn’t hurt) before trying to make laws?

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  • robert January 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    No that would make too much sense!

    Often the smarter than you crowd figures it is their job to protect all of us from ourselves even if there isn’t an issue that needs correcting. It is called the “Do Gooder Syndrome”. I am sure Rep. Greenlick feels like he is doing us all a huge favor and doesn’t understand the backlash from all of us ungrateful citizens with limited mental ability to take make wise decisions for ourselves and our children under six.
    I would propose a new law that no one over 70 years of age should be elected as a legislator. I have no proof that this is even an issue, but I think it is a good conversation starter that will hopefully make Salem a better place to govern. This would be another example of legislating before thinking the issue out. Or maybe we propose legislation that no one is allowed to waste taxpayer money without doing a modicum of serious study of an issue before going to the table with a law revision? But remember this Rep is a professor and I believe that they are practiced at making a hypothesis and then proving it right or wrong. Seems like law making should have a higher standard than this?

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  • Dude January 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    This was a solution looking for a problem.

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