Ben “Bone Crusher” Bowman Steps Into the Ring

State Rep. Ben Bowman, D-Tigard, finds himself squarely in the center of the ring as the House Majority Leader. Just like he always dreamed. Well, almost anyway.

Campaign Cash, Like Water, Always Finds a Way

With a citizens’ Initiative Petition (IP-9) to limit campaign contributions in Oregon politics steamrolling towards the November election ballot, legislators suddenly have decided to wrest control of the parade route. Powered by major donors representing both Republican and Democrat interests, HB 4024-5 creates a tangled web of new rules that proponents say solves the campaign spending problem and is a preferred alternative to the citizens’ initiative.

Chance of NCAA stopping the Oregon Legislature — NIL!

Determined not to have their top players pilfered by other schools, states are busy passing laws to enhance the “Name, Image, Likeness” playing field for their state’s schools, while also insulating them from being sanctioned for their efforts by the governing body of college sports, the NCAA.

Legislature cracks open “PERSdora’s Box”

Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) has been gasping for air, trying to stay afloat for years. It took a major dunking again in 2022, swallowing another $8 billion of added debt into its beleaguered balance sheet. The fund currently is about $28 billion short of the funds necessary to pay for its pension obligation to retirees.

Short Session Off to the Races with Big Agendas

With 300 bills to work and five weeks to do the work, the short session is a frenzy of activity where legislators are warned that evenings are considered working hours. The first work session posting deadline was Feb. 12, and any bill that isn’t heard by Feb. 19 is dead. The next deadlines come in quick succession the following weeks and the entire session will wrap no later than March 10.

Pac/West Lobby Group Adds Lena Prine to Legislative and Public Affairs Team

Prine’s wide range of experience in the legislature, business community, and working with natural resources will benefit Pac/West’s clients.

Graphic - Congressional Transfer Portal

Signaling S.O.S. in Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District

Lynn Peterson has consistently performed, moving from transportation planner to county commissioner to state transportation director to Metro President. She has made the right play call over the years, demonstrated by her electoral success on the political field. Now, she is playing in a new league, and it may not be the best fit. Peterson is in a competitive three-way battle in the May Democratic Primary for the 5th Congressional District against seasoned veterans Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Musical Chairs in Congressional District 5

When it comes to musical chairs, political candidates are masters of the game. Only one can claim the prize, the others are left scratching their heads. Oregon Congressional District 5 has attracted four notable entrants including a Republican incumbent and three Democrats jockeying for position in a race with national implications for party control in the next Congress.

Total Recall: Holvey vs. UFCW

In a forest of legislators, the majority of whom hadn’t yet been planted in their seats three years ago, Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) stands like an obelisk of petrified wood. Serving nearly two decades in the House of Representatives, he is eclipsed only by Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) in seniority in the chamber. This week, Holvey faces a recall election, composed and orchestrated by one of his long-time allies: the United Food & Commercial Workers union.

Oregon Loses a Bright, Graceful, Dancing Daffodil

Hope. If a life could be described in those four letters, Joanne Verger’s life would match like a fingerprint.

The former Oregon State Senator, Representative, Mayor, Strawberry Queen, and standup performer lived a life of hope, based on faith, love, grace and resolve, and was generous in sharing it with all she met. Joanne left us today at age 93, leaving Oregon a little emptier yet a whole lot richer.

Pac/West Lobby Group Adds Event Planning Specialist Josie Hankins

Pac/West Lobby Group is pleased to announce the addition of Josie Hankins to the Association Management team as our Event Planning Director & Office Manager.

Remembering Mike Donahue

Mike was a quiet mentor to all he worked with. He didn’t tell you how to do things, he showed you by the way he went about his work. His grace and calm were a distinguishing contrast to the chaos that often permeated the newsroom on a busy day of breaking news.

The Thrill of Being on a Team with Mike Donahue

Mike may have been a quiet leader but his integrity and loyalty never wavered. He pushed management, often unsuccessfully, for maintaining a high standard of journalism quality. Through the highs and lows, he remained true to his impeccable standards and to his friends.

OHSU - Savior or Privateer

OHSU: Savior or Privateer?

Oregon entered unchartered waters last week with the announcement that Legacy Health System, a private healthcare provider, would ‘merge’ with the state-sponsored Oregon Health and Science University. In this proposal, OHSU will be the surviving entity and will continue to be governed by its board of directors.

Eastern Oregon Economic Summit - Amanda Spoo and Whitley Sullivan

Eastern Oregon Economic Summit Brings Spotlight to Rural Issues

The 2023 Eastern Oregon Economic Summit brought together about 280 business leaders, farmers, manufacturers, candidates, legislators, and state and local elected officials in Union County on August 3-4 to learn about the opportunities and challenges facing the expansive and diverse region.

Kotek Poll: A Cause for Gloom or Glee?

Numbers may not lie, but our interpretation of their meaning is often critical. Kotek’s numbers in the poll show an approval rating of 45% and a disapproval rating of 39% for a net positive of six points. Last fall, the same numbers for Gov. Brown were 41% approval and 54% disapproval, or a negative 13 points. Combined, that’s a 19-point swing to the upside.

The Tax Man Cometh

The City Council voted this week to impose a payroll tax on all employees and independent contractors “for work performed within the Salem city limits.” The ordinance particularly calls out employees of the “State of Oregon” and “any political subdivision of the state.”

Anne Johnson portrait

A Fond Farewell to My Friends at the Capitol

Anne Johnson retires after 22 years in Oregon politics.

Ryan Tribbett portrait

Session Ends with Bumpy, Bruising Landing

It was a turbulent flight that ended with a rough landing, but the 2023 Oregon Legislative Session safely set down on Sunday as both chambers adjourned on the last possible day.

Gas Pumping t-shirt

No More Fuming at the Fuel Pump for Randy Miller

On Wednesday, the Senate moved the final passage of HB 2426 by one vote to end the prohibition on self-serve gas stations – allowing Oregonians to pump their own gas.

Oregon State Capitol graphic - square

House Nears Sine Die with Senate Still in Limbo

There were rumblings of movement on the ongoing Senate Republican Caucus walkout last week, but still no clear path to a finish line of the 2023 Legislative Session before sine die. While Democrats in the Senate continue to look for ways to coerce or demand Republicans’ return to the floor, their colleagues in the House have nearly completed their work and may call their own sine die before June 25.

Whitley Sullivan portrait

Solving Housing Crisis Requires Fixing Root Problem

Facing a housing crisis, the Oregon Legislature is spending a lot of time choosing “bucket solutions”—making plans that address symptoms rather than root causes while wasting precious resources like time and tax dollars to do it.

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Senate Moves Closer to Implosion

The political stalemate in the Oregon Senate is showing no signs of breaking in time for a normal conclusion to the 2023 Legislative Session. If anything, leadership is moving further away from resolution by the day.

Reflections on Power, Pride and Grace

Throughout our history there have been legislative issues that have deeply divided the Oregon assembly. Should our Democratic Republic survive, there will be many more. Democracy survives only by engagement, not withdrawal.

Policy Committees Wrap Work with Final Deadline

The sprint toward the finish line begins this week in the Oregon Legislature, but nobody is quite sure where the finish line will be.

May Revenue Forecast Turns Attention to State Budget

The May Economic & Revenue Forecast released this week presents a favorable picture of expected revenue and economic conditions for Oregon in the next biennium as lawmakers get ready to write the state budget.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner

The Doctor Will See You Now

Now an 11-year veteran of the Oregon Senate, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner keeps her own firm grip on the legislative process as co-chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee. And she gets plenty of hands extended from all the new friends her position attracts.

Ryan Tribbett portrait

Ryan Tribbett Joins Salem City Club Board of Directors

Pac/West Lobby Group President Ryan Tribbett was recently elected to the Salem City Club Board of Directors.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic graphic

Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic

Democrats and Republicans alike continue to counter each other’s tactics to grind the legislative process down to a crawl. From a robotic voice to read bills to the Flesch Kincaid Reading Test to calculating how many days they can stay away from Senate proceedings to deny a quorum, the ultimate game plan of either party is unknown. Crystal clear, however, is that the sand in the hourglass on this constitutionally restricted session is sifting quickly.

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Hectic Week Adds Tension to Session

A political version of an ‘atmospheric river’ descended over the Oregon Capitol this week, threatening to grind the legislative session to a halt and endangering a plethora of bills awaiting action in the Senate. The week kicked off with the stunning news that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan was resigning after a slew of reports surfaced about moonlighting as a cannabis consultant that conflicted with her public responsibilities.

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan

Secretary of State Revelations May Fuel Legislative Divide

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan was thrust into the media spotlight last week when it was revealed she has been moonlighting as a consultant for a cannabis company that has been under legal and political fire in Oregon.

State of Oregon Stooges

Economists Dust off Darts for Revenue Forecast

In less than three weeks, the state economists will chop their formulas, dice their dot charts, flow analysis, and multiple-colored lines of deviation, turn the blender on high, and, voila! They will pour a financial cocktail for legislators to taste just how much revenue will come into state coffers for the next two years.

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Committees Refocus as Floor Logjam Clears

After two weeks of full floor sessions, legislators returned their focus to committees last week as they began ramping up for the second committee deadlines. These next two weeks will be critical as bills must be posted for a work session by May 5 and heard by May 19 as we prepare for the final push.

Oregon Board of Forestry story thumbnail with owl

WHOOOO is Running Oregon Forest Policy?

The Oregon Board of Forestry is on the verge of finalizing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) with the federal government that has fostered distrust and dismay in rural communities again. The HCP provides new governance for state forest lands that will dramatically reduce timber harvests below already low levels.

Rep. Janelle Bynum and her son Ellis Bynum, an University of Oregon football player

Pigskin and Politics

Oregon’s Legislature has hit the two-month warning mark, and the fans are getting restless. First downs are critical to keeping the chains moving on the remaining bills moving toward the goal line. But Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) is not panicking. She trusts her training and her preparation. Forty miles to the South in Eugene, her son Ellis has taken a page from her playbook. He is a freshman running back for the University of Oregon football team.

Oregon State Capitol during cherry blossom season. Photo from

Legislative Bottleneck Follows First Deadline

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.

Oregon Department of Tolling

From Boone Ferry to Boondoggle

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is set to begin tolling bridges in the South Metro area next year and then install additional per-mile tolls all along I-5 and I-205. That adds up to about 40 or more tolls motorists will face when they utilize the not-so-freeways in the Portland area.

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Flight Gets Bumpy As Deadline Nears

After a smooth takeoff and efficient ascension to cruising altitude, the 2023 Oregon Legislative session is beginning to run into turbulence. In recent sessions, bipartisan friction has worked its way into the process from the beginning. However, this year, new leadership in both chambers and the governor’s office helped align priorities early on. But disagreements between the aisles threaten to re-route the flight of some legislation as we pass the first major deadline.

SB3 Chalkboard

Of Scarecrows, Theorems & Oregon’s Isoscelese Triangle

Students today face a more complex world, especially in navigating the tar pits of personal finance, asset management, and risk aversion. Oregon has not required a semester of personal finance in a quarter of a century in public high schools. Financial literacy has been in a decades-long courtship with the Oregon Legislature, only to see the nuptials continuously disrupted on the altar by Sine Die. This session, fueled by legislative leadership, teachers, school board members, and committed advocates, we may finally witness the tying of the knot.

Beware of The Ides of March

In the ancient Roman calendar — a mix of math and politics all on its own — the Ides represent the middle of the month. It marked the day that all debts must be paid. At the Oregon Capitol, the Ides falls on March 17 this year. On this day, hundreds of bills filled with the hopes and dreams of legislators and lobbyists alike will be interned together in the legislative boneyard if they haven’t been scheduled for a committee vote.

Pappy Van Winkle (AKA Kevin Mannix) is Back

At 73 years old, Kevin Mannix is an unlikely rookie in the 82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly. But as Pappy Van Winkle is to bourbon, Mannix is a scarcity among legislators across the country. Both were aged 23 years. The last time he patrolled the legislative chamber Bill Clinton was president, and flip phones were all the rage. Why come off the shelf now?

Mark Long

Construction Leader Mark Long Joins Pac/West Lobby Group

Mark Long, outgoing executive director of the Oregon Home Builders Association and former director of the Oregon Building Codes Division, has joined Pac/West Lobby Group as Vice President of Construction Policy & Regulatory Affairs.

Henry O'Keeffe and his wife, Lissa, on January 8 just before his eye surgery.

My New Perspective on Health Care

Health care isn’t something younger people think about much. Like retirement savings, it’s often something you put off for later. Then, out of nowhere comes the wake-up call. I got mine earlier this month.

Whitley Sullivan portrait

Pac/West Lobby Group Adds Whitley Sullivan as Housing and Rural Development Director

Pac/West Lobby Group is pleased to welcome Whitley Sullivan back to its government affairs team as the Director of Housing and Rural Development.

How One Vote Shaped Two Remarkable Oregon Political Careers

Two remarkable careers will take their final curtain call in January 2023, bringing an end to a political performance that has run on Oregon’s biggest stage for almost two decades.

Measure 113 Cocktail Is One Part Ambiguity, One Part Irony

Ballot measures in Oregon are like cocktails. At first glance they can appear refreshing and stimulating. But if you are not careful, you may find yourself disoriented, stumbling, and wondering how you got your kisser stuck to a light pole.

Amanda Spoo portrait

Ag Communications Leader Amanda Spoo Joins Pac/West Lobby Group

Pac/West Lobby Group is expanding its Communications department with the hire of Amanda Spoo, an Eastern Oregon native with more than a decade of professional experience in agriculture.

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