Leadership Roles in the Oregon Legislative Assembly

by Emily Langston

Members of the Oregon Legislative Assembly are important decision-makers and leaders in state politics.  They represent the interests of the people who elect them, and make laws which will touch the day-to-day lives of Oregonians all over the state.  While all senators and representatives are highly influential, the people they elect to lead them in the Senate and House are especially powerful.  Some leadership roles will be more political, or more partisan than others, but all leaders must grapple with performing their essential duties in a highly charged political environment.  Legislative leaders must strike a balance between advancing their own priorities and the agenda of their party, while carrying out their essential duties as leaders and representatives. Read More »

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 »

The Ins, Outs, and Affects of Lobbying in the Oregon Legislature

by Lizzy Atwood Wills

Lobbying is sometimes known as the “third house”. There are the two chambers in a legislature—the Senate and the House—and then there’s the lobby. Within the three branches of U.S. government, lobbyists play an influential role, and while they probably wish they could affect the judicial branch, they have a huge impact on both the executive and legislative branches’ decision-making processes. Most often though, lobbyists affect the legislative process, and are most well known for their work in the legislature. As long as the United States has a democracy with a legislative process, lobbyists will advocate for their own (or their clients’) interests. What would a democracy be without lobbyists though? If an everyday citizen wasn’t able to march into her state legislator’s office and tell them how she feels, would our democracy really be about the people? Could the Oregon Legislature really claim to be a “citizen” legislature? The aim of this paper is to explain how and why the lobby plays such an influential role in our state legislature, and moreover, how the lobby motivates a democratic balance in politics. Through examples of current legislation, and the experiences of lobbyists currently working with the legislature, this paper will also explain the strategies and roles a lobbyist utilizes to both support and stop every piece of legislation (of which there is over 2,500 in 2015 alone) that makes its way through the Oregon Legislature.Read More »

Institutional Analysis of Legislative Staff in Oregon: Structure and Function

by Kienan Wear

The heart and soul of state legislatures are the staff members that comprise it. Legislative staff from both the non-partisan institutions, as well as partisan employees, offer legislators a countless number of benefits that help overall productivity in the capital. This is particularly poignant in the case of state legislatures, as their operational budgets pale in comparison to their federal counterparts. It is within this arena, one which in contrast lacks professionalization (1), that staffers can have real effective power over legislative output. It would be an unfair comparison to analyze the differences between state legislative staff and congressional staff, but the fact remains nonetheless that they inherently serve similar functions in terms of day to day operations. This paper shall serve to effectively examine the structure, function, and overall nature of state legislative staff within the context of the Oregon legislature. The varying degree in which personal relationship and trust factor into the legislative process in regards to the people employed in those various institutions will be thoughtfully examined as well.Read More »