Secretary of State Revelations May Fuel Legislative Divide
Controversy has power to divide parties during crucial days of session
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. The report came out hours before her Secretary of State office released the results of an audit recommending easing restrictions on cannabis companies in Oregon.
After initially denying wrongdoing, Fagan on Monday apologized for exercising “poor judgment” and “harming the trust” of Oregonians. She has been a fast-rising star in the Oregon Democratic Party, winning legislative seats in two different districts and taking the Secretary of State’s office back from Republican control in 2020.
The response came quickly, with Republican leaders demanding Fagan’s resignation and Gov. Tina Kotek, a fellow Democrat, calling for investigations by the Government Ethics Commission into Fagan’s contract and by the Department of Justice into the audit itself. Top Democrats in both chambers also expressed concern.
In politics, perception can be just as powerful as facts. We will be watching to see how this political jousting match affects the Legislature down the home stretch of this session. Diverting attention away from the issues at hand could impact any legislation that requires bi-partisan support.
Second Chamber Posting Deadline This Week
The first part of the second major deadline hits this week as all bills must be posted to their second work session committee by Friday, May 5. As with the first session posting deadline, bills will then have two weeks to be heard or they will be considered dead.
Ways and Means Roadshow Wraps Up in Ontario
The Oregon Constitution requires the legislature to pass a balanced biennial budget each odd-numbered year. After receiving the governor’s recommended budget, the Joint Ways & Means Committee, comprised of 20 members of both parties and both chambers, releases its budget framework from the co-chairs. The committee then travels throughout the state to hear from communities about their priorities and how best to spend their tax dollars.
Oregonians are welcome to come to Salem and talk with legislators in their offices at any point during the legislative session. By contrast, the Ways & Means roadshow places legislators in communities across the state to speak with a broader cross section of Oregonians.
Look back on each of the hearings: