When legislators convened in February for their short session, our State's pioneering long-term care system literally hung in the balance, threatened by a $97 million gap in the state's 2013 budget. "Oregon's Promise" to provide independence, dignity and choice to seniors and people with disabilities, was on the line - the bottom line...
One of the architects of bipartisan rule in the Oregon House said Monday he hopes the spirit of cooperation will survive a change in leadership.
“Oregon was hailed as a place where even people with differences could work together,” Winchester Republican Bruce Hanna said at a Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“Collaboration should now be an expectation, not just something to hope for,” he said.
For the past two sessions, Hanna and Coos Bay Democrat Arne Roblan shared the House speaker’s position as the parties each held 30 seats.
Neither Hanna nor Roblan will be in the job next year. Roblan was elected to the Senate to represent a district that includes a portion of Douglas County. Meanwhile, Republicans lost four seats and their share of power. In the wake of the election, House Republicans, their ranks thinned, chose a new leader, Mike McLane of Powell Butte.
The shift in House leadership comes even as accolades continue to come in for the Hanna-Roblan partnership.
Governing magazine last week honored Hanna and Roblan as Public Officials of the Year for their commitment to making the uneasy power-sharing arrangement work.
Speaking to about 80 people at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Hanna said he was optimistic that majority Democrats won’t shut out minority Republicans from decision-making.
“I believe that everyone who was involved in the co-governance system will still try to work with members of the other party,” Hanna said.
House Democrats have chosen Portland Rep. Tina Kotek to be speaker. She will be the first openly lesbian House speaker in the nation.
Roseburg Rep. Tim Freeman, who attended the luncheon but was not a speaker, said afterward that he anticipates Kotek will treat him and other Republicans fairly.
Freeman and Kotek were co-chairs of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services for the past two years.
“She has always been honest and has always given me adequate time to explain my views,” Freeman said. “We’ve developed a great working relationship.”
No longer in a leadership position, Hanna said he will focus on pension reform, education funding and jobs. Oregon’s 8.6 percent jobless rate and Douglas County’s 12 percent rate are much too high, he said.
“Simply put, that isn’t acceptable,” Hanna said.
(SALEM) — Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) and his counterpart, Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), were honored last week as ‘Public Officials of the Year’ from GOVERNING magazine. The award, presented to the Co-Speakers at an event in Washington, DC, recognized the leaders’ commitment to co-governance, and successful legislative sessions under their leadership as Co-Speakers of the Oregon House.
The following is a write-up from GOVERNING magazine about their tenure as Co-Speakers:
"Competitive elections these days are hard-fought affairs -- nasty, brutish and staggeringly expensive. The focus is on winning and winning alone. That was certainly the goal of both Oregon’s Democratic and Republican parties entering the 2010 election cycle. When the votes were tallied on Election Day, however, both parties were in for a surprise. For the first time in Oregon’s history, each party won the same number of seats. The House of Representatives was evenly divided -- 30 Democrats, 30 Republicans.
When something like this happens, party leaders usually solve the problem by going after a defector or convincing someone to switch caucuses in order to secure power. But in Oregon, Democratic leader Arnie Roblan and Republican leader Bruce Hanna took a different approach and chose to serve as co-speakers.
Ask political scientists and they’ll say co-governance rarely works. In the case of Roblan and Hanna, they were hardly close allies to start. Rather, they virtually epitomized the divisions between the two parties. Roblan, age 64, had spent his entire career in the public sector, working first as a teacher and then as a principal before retiring in 2004 and running successfully for a seat in the Legislature. Hanna, age 52, is an entrepreneur and currently the owner of a Coca-Cola bottling company and a vending service company. Nevertheless, the two leaders negotiated a clear set of rules that would govern House operations. They also made a commitment to sit down together to solve problems -- and to stay seated until both sides had a solution they could agree on.
The beginning, says Hanna, was “tough.” But the two legislative sessions presided over by co-speakers Roblan and Hanna rank as among the most productive in Oregon’s history, with balanced budgets, a sweeping health reform overhaul, state and congressional redistricting, and a successful school reform package. As the two leaders prepare once again for Election Day (with Roblan as a candidate for the state Senate this time), both promise to carry the experience of the past two years into the future.
“[W]hen you don’t give a credible voice to the minority, it creates real animosity,” says Roblan. “There are always opportunities, even in the majority, to seek out and try to listen carefully to what they are really wanting.”
“People now expect us to move forward,” says Hanna. Before the 2010 election, working together was a surprise. “Now, it’s an expectation.”
Originially printed in GOVERNING magazine