Committee assignments in Oregon Legislature don’t rock the boat
By Christian Gaston, The Oregonian on December 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM, updated December 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM
Leadership in the Oregon Legislature announced committee appointments in the House and Senate late Friday, with few surprises in either chamber.
While Democrats will be in a majority in both chambers, a shift from after the 2010 election when the House was tied 30-30, Democratic leadership retained Republicans on influential Ways and Means, Revenue and Rules committees.
Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, incoming House speaker, said at the end of last week’s special session that she was looking forward to bipartisanship in the coming session, during which Democrats will enjoy a 34-26 majority.
There are Democratic majorities on all committees in the House, but Republicans still hold some prominent positions.
Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, will co-chair the Ways and Means subcommittee on General Government and Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, will co-chair the subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development.
In a press release announcing the committee appointments, Kotek offered a similar sentiment.
“There are thoughtful, well-respected legislators on both sides of the aisle who have important ideas to offer,” Kotek said. “Committees are designed in a way that will allow us to best tackle the challenges facing the state.”
While there are a score of freshman legislators in the House and a leadership shift, the makeup of the Senate hasn’t changed much. Senate President Peter Courtney made small tweaks to committee appointments.
Other highlights from the appointments include:
- Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, will replace outgoing Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, on the senate Rules Committee.
- Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, were appointed to Ways and Means. Steiner Hayward was appointed to fill the vacant senate seat of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici late last year. Hansell was elected to the Senate in November.
- Freshman Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, will serve on Ways and Means.
- Freshman Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, will co-chair the Natural Resources subcommittee of Ways and Means.
- The makeup of the Senate Finance and Revenue committee changed significantly following the retirement of Sen. Frank Morse, R-Corvallis, who had worked closely with committee chairwoman Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, on tax issues. Three new members will join the committee this session: Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, Brian Boquist, R-Dallas and Larry George, R-Sherwood.
The Legislature will convene Jan. 14-16 for organizational meetings, with lawmakers returning to Salem Feb. 4, when the legislative session really gets under way.