PLSO The Oregon Surveor September/October 2021

26 The Oregon Surveyor | Vol. 44, No. 5 “I t was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” – A Tale of Two Cities , by Charles Dickens. Unfortunately, during the 2021 Session with the pandemic and widespread civic unrest, the Oregon Legislature mostly re- flected the second half of Dickens’ famous opening paragraph of his timeless novel. It was certainly the most dysfunctional Legislative Session I have experienced in my 34 years in the state Capitol (my first session, as a college intern, was 1987— I started lobbying in 1996). A Session Like No Other Legislative leadership is not to be blamed for all of it. Managing a Legislative Session, with a closed Capitol Building and most everyone clicking in online, was unprece- dented. The technological learning curve was high formost everyone. Inmany ways we were all doing the best we could under distressing circumstances. Near the end of session I bought a new couch—having permanently dented the middle cushion of the old one sitting through hours and hours of hearings day after day. On the other hand, it was that same legis- lative leadership that steadfastly kept the Capitol closed during the entire session when many, many other state Capitols across the country were open for business. And it was that same legislative leadership that, with a Capitol closed to lobbyists and the public, made no effort to reduce the depth, breadth, and scope of the Legis- lative Session to only the budget, leaving “ordinary” legislative issues towhenOregon returned to a more normal—or at least a more typical—legislative tempo. As a lobbyist—your lobbyist—my ability to be your eyes, your ears, and your voice in Salemwere certainly hampered by sitting on my couch. No brief meetings walking down the hall with a committee Chair. No coffee shopmeetings with committee staff or other lobbyists working out issues. It of- ten tookmore than an hour of phone calls, doodle polls, and email “tag” just to sched- ule a five-minutemeeting over Teams with a Legislator. And I lost count of how many times I reg- istered to testify during a public hearing when there simply was not enough time for everyone to get their twominutes. That left committeemembersmaking decisions withmuch less information than they need- ed tomake good decisions on your behalf. We All Meddled Through The 2021 Legislative Session had all the makings of a futuristic dystopian novel. But we all meddled through. More than one person has noted that future sessions will likely spend an inordinate amount of time “correcting” problems with the laws passed in 2021 because almost nothing received the kind of vetting that is normal when everyone is in the Capitol Building. Look for the watch words “unanticipated consequences” to be a running theme for the next several years. As the session wound down, the Bend Bul- letin ran an excellent story about how the Legislature tried to save doomed bills as the session ended (See link 1). You might be interested in reading a post-session re- view fromOregonPublic Broadcasting (See link 2) or from Pamplin Media (See link 3). There is also a telling interview with Sen- ate President Peter Courtney (See link 4). And, in case this frustrates you (as it should), let’s not forget the words of Winston Chur - chill: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others.” Government Relations Darrell Fuller 2021 Legislative Report The 2021 Legislative Session had all the makings of a futuristic dystopian novel.