Whitsett sums up Oregon politics, reviews 09 year

 The 2008 Oregon elections are completed, and the people have decided who will represent them for the next two to four years. Once again, the 80% of the people who live within 20 miles of the Willamette River have dominated the outcome of the election.

I do sincerely thank all those who voted to re-elect me to a second
term in the Oregon Senate. Nearly 98% of those who voted, supported my
re-election as your State Senator in our five county District 28.
   
With the single exception of our Congressman Greg Walden, all of Oregon’s
congressional
seats are now held by Democrats. All statewide offices including
Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner
of Labor and Commissioner of Education are held by Democrats. Virtually
all agency directors are Democrats appointed by the Democrat Governor.
In Oregon, fourteen of seventeen Supreme Court and Appellate Court
Justices, most District Court Judges, and most District Attorneys have
been appointed by Democrat governors as well.
   
The Oregon
Senate is dominated by an 18 to 12 Democrat majority. That majority has
selected a Democrat, Senator Peter Courtney, to continue to serve in
the most powerful office as Senate President. He will assign all
committee chairmanships as well as assign all Senate members to
committees. The committee chairs serve at the pleasure of the President.
He will assign all introduced bills to committees, and he will decide what bills will, or will not, receive hearings.
   
The
Senate Republicans did pick up one seat when Chris Telfer won her
election in Deschutes County. However, the House Democrats gained 5
seats including two from previously considered safe Republican
districts including one east of the Cascades.
   
The Oregon
House of Representatives is now dominated by a 36 to 24 Democrat
majority. That 36 seat majority provides both the House and the Senate
with 60% Democrat majorities allowing them to increase and pass new
taxes without a single concurring Republican vote.
   
In
fact, if the Democrat majority votes together, they now have an
insurmountable margin that will allow them to pass any law they choose,
except for the passage of a constitutional amendment.
   
The
House Democrats have selected Representative Dave Hunt as the new
Speaker of the House since former Speaker Jeff Merkley is now our
United States Senator. The Speaker has similar powers to the Senate
President, except for having the additional powers of controlling all
tax and revenue bills, which must originate in the House.
   
We
may expect to see a variety of new taxes introduced, such as some form
of a retail sales tax, a real estate transfer tax, and increased
document recording taxes. Increased taxes on gas, alcohol, tobacco and
either a minimum corporate tax, or a tax on gross corporate sales, may
be expected as well. Laws will be introduced to make it easier for
counties to expand their sources of revenue-that means make it easier
to raise your taxes.
   
Many current business tax credits and
deductions will be reduced or eliminated in proposed bills. Some of the
revenue generated from these reductions will be channeled into more tax
credit incentives to encourage even more alternative energy generation.

   
One of the Governor’s legacy items is a government mandated
third party government pay health insurance system for all Oregonians.
The only apparent way to pay for such an extensive health care system
would be an additional state payroll tax deduction. This bank busting
plan may gain new traction with the Democrat super majority. At the
very least, the Governor will make a huge push for expanding the Oregon
Health Plan to include all uninsured children regardless of their
parents’ ability to pay.
   
Expect to witness a plethora of
new environmental laws including some of the Governor’s other legacy
items such as his Marine Reserves, Headwaters 2 Ocean, and Carbon Cap
and Trade initiatives, as well as laws to further expand land use
restrictions.
   
Anticipate a number of new laws to be
enacted that will further enhance the control of Oregon by labor
unions, especially by public employee labor unions.
   
Not
least, the long standing Republican backstop to prevent enhanced gun
control statutes is now no longer a factor. Gun control advocates have
been waiting a long time for this opportunity.
   
Oregon
voters have voted for change, and as a direct result, they will
undoubtedly experience significant change. Unfortunately, the citizens
who live and work in the 80% of Oregon, not dominated by that
Willamette Valley majority, will be required to live under laws created
by the representatives of that Willamette Valley majority.
   
The
2009 legislative session will certainly be interesting and challenging.
Many of the outcomes will most likely be disheartening for rural and
small town Oregon.
 

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