Aside from the periodic "Legislative Days" — three days of committee meetings/hearings between sessions held at the Capitol — and perpetual campaigning that mark the life of a member of the House of Representatives serving two-year terms, what else can these legislators do to fill their free time between sessions? After all, it's not like they have lives or families to which they need to attend or anything so mundane as a day job or business to run. For two Marion County Republicans that was not a question too difficult to answer.
Freshman legislator Rep. Jodi Hack (Dist.19) will pack her bags to jet off to Lexington, Kentucky this August to undertake "intensive training and workshops" covering such subjects as "adaptive leadership, media training, crisis management, [and] appreciative inquiry". She will join an exclusive fellowship of 47 other public officials from across the country to take part in the Council of State Governments' (CSG) Toll Fellowship Program. The participants are selected by a panel of Program alumni based on submitted application materials. Twelve people are chosen from each of four regions — East, South, Midwest, and West — to complete the year's class. The CSG West region comprises the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, along with the Pacific islands of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. The Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta are associate members.
"I’m incredibly honored to have been chosen to participate in this program," said Rep. Hack when she learned of her selection. "Opportunities like this provide me with the chance to continue developing my leadership skills, advance my knowledge of public administration and policy, and build lasting relationships with leaders and policymakers from around the country. I’m looking forward to bringing this new knowledge home with me and putting it to work to the benefit of my constituents."
Meanwhile, veteran legislator Rep. Bill Kennemer (Dist. 39) received a new homework assignment of his own from the legislative leadership team at the conclusion of the Legislative Days. In accordance with Oregon Laws 2015, Ch. 702, Speaker Tina Kotek appointed Rep. Kennemer to serve on the Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform. This appointment, however, came almost a year late. The law creating the task force was passed with a (fake) emergency clause so that it took effect upon the governor's signature, affixed on 20 July 2015. According to Section 1(9) — presumably the (flimsy) justification for the emergency clause — "the task force shall submit a report . . . to the interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to rules no later than December 31, 2015 (emphasis added)." On the bright side, Rep. Kennemer serves on the House Committee on Rules, so at least he received that report. Since the task force will be dissolved by the law on 2 July 2017, there is still much work to be done here.
In announcing his appointment, Rep. Kennemer stated, "Reforming our campaign finance system and improving transparency has always been one of my top priorities as a lawmaker. I'm pleased to have an opportunity to serve on this task force, and to be a part of a group that is committed to improving transparency and making sure our campaign finance system works for Oregonians." All well and good. Please remember, though, that the relatively unrestricted nature of financing campaigns (i.e. no legal limitation to the amount of money one can raise) is not the bar to most seeking election to office. It is the prospect of going up against an incumbent who is flush with cash with ample resources for even more on speed dial. Do not recommend a bunch of new regulations that will only serve to protect the incumbent even more.