558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Three take part in City Day at the Capitol
Trip provides a peek into how the state legislature works
March 04, 2013
Three Prineville City Councilors joined about 200 of their peers throughout Oregon on Wednesday to enjoy a “City Day at the Capitol.”
Councilors Jack Seley, Dean Noyes, and Jason Carr made the trip to the League of Oregon Cities-sponsored event. The day included a variety of opportunities for city councilors to meet with lawmakers and learn about the legislative process as well as learn about new laws under consideration.
City Councilor Jason Carr said the morning began with a presentation that highlighted Oregon’s legislative process. He and Councilor Jack Seley were both struck by how committee-driven the system can be.
“By the time a bill gets to the floor of the House or Senate, it is typically close to its final version and no amendments can be offered on the floor during debate,” Carr said.
“It’s either a go or it can be killed in committee and never see the light of day again,” Seley added, “which is a little strange when you and seen other systems.”
Carr learned that the legislature is working on a couple bills that seek to correct property tax inequities in Oregon. He explained that because of the recent recession, the provisions enacted by Measure 5 and Measure 50 have resulted in a substantial difference in what people pay for property taxes on comparable homes.
Seley recalls that councilors raised concerns about a recently-proposed gun control bill, and asked what kind of effect it will have on local communities.
The prognosis on the gun legislation is it will not pass,” he added.
Noyes noted that a discussion on enterprise zones took place during the event, and it drew special attention to Prineville because of their use of the program to attract Facebook and Apple.
“We were probably the best example in the state of Oregon of how those policies at the state level really go to help rural communities like ours,” he said.
During lunch, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Dist. 11) and House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Dist. 55) took turns speaking to all of the councilors.
Noyes took particular interest in what Courtney had to say.
“It was an interesting speech because he was really expressing some pain about the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) issue from the Democrats’ side, and how much it was going to affect the budget.”
Seley said that Governor John Kitzhaber also took the floor and discussed his programs and future plans for Oregon. The Councilor admits that the speech struck him as a typical political address and he didn’t retain a lot of what the governor had to say, but added that “it was nice that he came and talked to us.”
The Prineville councilors later met with Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Dist. 28) and McLane who both represent Crook County in Salem.
“We had a supper with McLane after the reception, so we got a good conversation with him on a very relaxed basis,” Seley said. “That was well worth the trip right there.”
In the end, the Council Day at the Capitol likely gave the local councilors some insight into what goes on in Salem during a typical day in session. As Seley observed, the councilors were the drop-in guests.
“We did not have any kind of fixed appointments that we were making with our legislators,” he said. “We had to fit ourselves into their schedules as best as we could. They are busy people.”
Nevertheless, the councilors all enjoyed the trip and gained a lot from the experience.
“All in all, it was a good day to be in Salem, and an even better day to say we were from Prineville,” Noyes said.