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|Monday, January 01, 2007|
By Oakley Brooks
Like the start of the baseball season each spring, hope also seems to spring eternal at the opening of a new legislative session. Oregon’s Senate and House are called into session Jan. 8 and, for now, among those with an economic agenda, all is forgotten after the pitched battles and frustrations of 2005. Salem’s electeds and lobbyists seem to have gotten the message that the public is fed up with their obstructionist carrying on (while snagging all-expense-paid trips to Hawaii). Heading into this year’s session, the name of the game for business lobbyists is to compromise and smile on the governor’s agenda.
LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH
On the surface it looked like the newly re-elected Gov. Ted Kulongoski rubbed the losing constituents’ nose in it a bit with two of his staff appointments: Chip Terhune, the Oregon Education Association lobbyist, took over as chief of staff and Tim Nesbitt, the former Oregon AFL-CIO chief, joined as Terhune’s deputy. But the consensus is that Terhune, at least, is a political professional, not an ideologue. Although he’s spent a lot of time in recent years working on behalf of teachers and ballot measures to increase the size of the state budget pie, his background also includes time working alongside the tenured professor of Salem lobbying — Mark Nelson. “He has a broad background and I’m comfortable with him heading up the governor’s staff,” says Bill Perry, government relations chief for the Oregon Restaurant Association.
WHAT’S ON THE BUSINESS AGENDA?
BUSTING THE METAL PIRATES
The most intriguing bill likely to get attention this session is the stolen metals legislation being hashed out at press time by reps of the nursery, construction, railroad, metal recycling industries and law enforcement officials. A robust, meth-fueled underground trade has developed around stolen sprinkler pipes, housing materials, tools and railroad equipment. Union Pacific, for instance, budgets $1 million a year in the region for stolen metals and equipment. The new bill would place reporting requirements on metals recyclers and stiffen the penalties for metal thieves and recyclers who don’t comply with reporting standards or are caught trading stolen goods.
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