The ”short” session the legislature holds each even-numbered year is always intense and fast-paced and the 2018 short session was no exception. It was the fourth short session we’ve convened since the voters passed the annual sessions constitutional amendment in 2010, and it was perhaps the most ambitious one yet.
Having only four or five weeks to pass bills severely limits what we can hope to accomplish and leaves no room for error, and so we all tried hard to enter the 2018 session with realistic expectations. Still, we tackled major progressive priorities like clean energy, protecting the environment, net neutrality, preventing violence against women, fighting gun violence, protecting DACA recipients and protecting foster children.
The federal tax bill, passed at the last minute in December, required us to act quickly to avoid a meltdown in state finance, primarily school funding and healthcare, and to avoid adding to the windfall it gave to the wealthy.
Because of how the short session works, we had to complete most of our work before session even began, and we were forced to set aside major disagreements and quickly find consensus. We made an amazing amount of progress on a host of issues that will have a big and favorable impact on Oregonians. I am proud of what we accomplished. More on that in a moment.
Since I’m not running for reelection, the end of the 2018 session was bittersweet. On Saturday, March 3, just before I carried the House concurrent resolution adjourning the 2018 legislative session, I spoke on the floor of Oregon’s House of Representatives for what will almost certainly be the last time.
2018 Legislative Session Accomplishments: Federal Tax Overhaul Response; Housing Affordability; Toxic Air Emissions; Net Neutrality; Domestic Violence and Guns; Prescription Drug Prices; Equifax Data Breach; Tourist Taxes; ”Dreamers”; Electric Vehicles; Not Done: Clean Energy Jobs.
My term runs until mid January 2019. I’m planning several town halls for April to discuss the February session and to listen carefully, as always, to your concerns. Stay tuned for details, and bring your ideas. I am still able to introduce bills for next session, but this time I’ll have to leave the rest of the work to others.
As always, I encourage you to contact me (email preferred) on any issue, large or small. Most of my good ideas come from you. After you have thoroughly read and digested this, get out, take a walk, a jog or a bike ride and enjoy the spring flowers that are now in such abundance. I think I will follow my own advice.
State Representative Phil Barnhart represents Central Lane and Linn counties. Contact him at [email protected]