It is a spring ritual as reliable as the cherry blossoms blooming at the State Capitol. There is a mad rush to move bills through their committees of origin ahead of the first chamber deadline creating a legislative bottleneck of bills on the chamber floors.
Picture a giant funnel with a tiny spout. Most committees worked at full speed for weeks ahead of the April 4 deadline to fill the funnel with bills. At our count, the Monday before the deadline, there were 682 bills heard or voted on in the previous seven days.
Now it is up to the Senate and House to approve that committee-stamped legislation and send it across the building to the other chamber.
This is an especially onerous process in the Senate, where Republicans are requiring full readings of all bills as a moderating tactic. There was only time for six or seven bills per Senate floor session last week, while nearly 60 more await their turn.
We anticipate at least one marathon floor session this week to unstick the logjam and get bills moving again. After all, the next deadline is only four working weeks away.
We are hearing that Sen. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) is recovering well after surgery last month. He has taken time away from the Legislature since March 20, and his chief of staff, Jason Hitzert, told KOIN News that he expects the senator to return in a few weeks.
Sen. Gorsek has been a member of the Oregon Legislature since 2013 and is the co-chair of the Joint Transportation Committee and Joint Interstate 5 Bridge Committee, as well as a member of committees on health, veterans, and public safety funding.
As we wish Sen. Gorsek a healthy recovery, it is worth noting that his absence has a sizable effect on how bills move. With his vote excused on the Senate floor, Democrats have a single-vote majority.