Could Oregon Oregon’s first Independent Representative solve Oregon’s budget deadlock?

Today Senator Vic Gilliam announced his resignation as State Representative from House District 18.

I wish Representative Gillian well and am humbled by his service and courage.

A Challenging environment in 2017 Legislature

On Wednesday, the Oregon legislature convenes, and faces one of it’s most challenging sessions with a budget that is deeply out of balance. If new revenue is part of the solution, it will require a 60% majority in both houses to agree. Currently,  Democrats do hold a 60% super majority in the Senate, but they are one seat short of a super majority in the House. The person named to Rep. Gilliams seat could become the critical vote in the House.

How will a successor be chosen

And here’s the wrinkle. It appears based on Oregon Statute that the person appointed need not be a member of the Republican Party.

Under Oregon law, (ORS 171.051) the person to be appointed to complete a term of service for a State legislator must be “affiliated with” the same party as the departing Representative. The meaning of “Affiliated with” is determined by ORS 236.100 which reads.

Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, whenever a vacancy occurs in any partisan elective office in this state and is to be filled by appointment, no person shall be eligible for such appointment unless the person is affiliated, as determined by the appropriate entry on the person’s official election registration card with the same political party:

(a)As that by which the elected predecessor in the office was designated on the election ballot, if the name of the predecessor was printed on the election ballot.

Rep. Gilliam’s name was printed on the ballot in the 2016 election and he was designated as both a Republican and an Independent. He accepted the Independent Party nomination, appealed to Independent Party voters and therefore is affiliated with both the Republican and Independent Party under the appointment statute.

Therefore, it appears that both the Republican and Independent Party may nominate up top three persons to be appointed to fill the vacancy in HD. Or, alternatively, the Independent Party and Republican Party may be required  to jointly come up with three names. Those names will be forwarded  to the County commissioners of Clackamas and Marion counties, whose boundaries include HD-18, who will make the appointment.

An Independent Caucus

If the commissioners were to name an Independent to HD 18  there is a possibility that a current Legislator or Legislators could decide to caucus with the new Independent representative, forming a swing caucus that could hold enormous power and influence.

I am always being told that there is an “Oregon Way”. That is, searching for common ground and consensus. Investigating and considering  bold ideas and unique paths to solutions to difficult problems. Sending an Independent Legislator to Salem is an example of that “Oregon Way”



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