Legislative Ethics in Oregon and the Appearance of Corruption

by Corey Toney

A central aspect of American democracy is trust.  People often wonder if it is ok to trust that the government is doing a good job, and working in the best interests of the people.  Since the Watergate Scandal, trust in all Federal, State, and Local Governments has decreased.  The Watergate Scandal did however, increase the public’s interest in ethical public service.  There was a cry for transparency that we can still hear today.  The result has been what some would call, an ethics revolution.  There are many ways that we judge the acts of legislatures. The ways that we judge them are largely influenced by our beliefs.  The degree to which we trust public officials largely depend on the degree of, informed consent, limited government, delegation, the variety of democratic regimes, and range of ethics of representation.Read More »

Effective Methods of Constituency Service in Oregon State

by Titi (Thanh) Ngo

One would think that casework is the most effective method to reach constituents, however, that was not the case with this research. How do legislators serve their people? What is their purpose? What methods do they use to connect with their constituents? We know that the Oregon Legislative Assembly has existed for more than 50 years, with annual sessions following even numbered years since January 2012.  Oregon is divided into 60 different districts with a population of approximately 3.97 million. This means that each district contains an average population of about 57,000. At present, there are 90 total legislative members, 30 of which reside in the Senate and the remaining 60 sits in the House of Representatives. The question is then, how do legislators make sure that they are representing their district as accurately as possible? Simply, legislators must provide constituency service.Read More »

Women in The Oregon Legislature

by Hugo Gonzalez Venegas

If a representative elected body is the foundation of our democracy, then understanding why more women do not hold elected office is an important question with implications on the legitimacy of our democracy. Women account for a little over fifty-percent of the total population of the United States, but account for only a small portion of the federal Congress. On the State level the numbers are better, but not by much. Since the passing of women’s suffrage in Oregon in 1912, women have been serving in elected office. I pose to show how the women who have served in the Oregon legislature shape the type of legislation that passes each session. From the historic 1973 legislature that passed more feminist-leaning laws than ever before, and the disparity of representation today, where women only make up a little over twenty-five percent of the state senate and only one-third of the state house chamber.Read More »

Activities of State Representatives

by Jennifer Anderson

The duties of State Representatives in Oregon are different depending on what they are doing. During the session they will have several things to do during their work week. They meet with constituents and lobbyists. They also respond to constituents needs through out-reach to other government office. The factors that play a role in how much attention a representative pays to a constituent is dependent on the kind legislature they are involved in and if they are in session full time. They attend committee meeting were they evaluate and pass bills to be voted on by the whole house of representatives. They also vote to pass bills into law. The state’s budget allocation has to one of the biggest duties that the legislature has during the session. They spend almost the whole session deciding where the money will go. Another function of the legislature that representatives address during the session is legislative oversight. Read More »

Because You Know I’m all about the Base, No Trouble: Legislator Opinion Formation and Constituency Congruence at the State Level

by Nathan Parsons

Much research in the field of Political Science has been done on the interplay between legislators and public opinion. Little research has been performed on determining how individual legislators form and change their particular political stances with regard to constituent pressure. How do legislators form political opinions? Are they merely guided by ideology and the leanings of their legislative peers? Are they swayed by media reporting? Can constituents influence policy from a grass-roots level? The vast majority of the work done in this area has been performed at the national level. What might we learn from studying these forces at the level of state legislator? In this paper, we will undertake to answer some of these questions, specifically, how legislators tend to form legislative opinions and the degrees to which and manner in which they are susceptible to constituent influence.Read More »