Column: Short Session means intense day-long schedule

Well, we are back in Salem for the 2018 Short Session!

The session convened on Feb. 5, and I’ve been going non-stop since. I have four committee assignments that meet regularly: House Agriculture and Natural Resources, for which I serve as vice chair; House Education; and House Judiciary; as well as the Joint Committee on Student Success.

In addition to these committees, I am still on the Legislative Commission on Indian Services and participating on various work groups, too.

If I am not in a morning committee I am taking meetings until my morning caucus meeting, where I meet with my Republican colleagues and we are briefed on the day. I then head to the House chamber for the daily floor session where we can deliberate on bills before we vote on them.

Typical adjournment of the morning floor session is around noon, and if I’m lucky I then get a short break for lunch. But most days I get back to my desk with lunch and my staff tells me we will be working while we eat.

Then, more meetings, a lot of times these meetings are with lobbyists and constituents who are in the building for an advocacy day to lobby me on issues that affect them.

Afternoon committees begin at 1 p.m., and usually last until 5 p.m.

As you can see, there is not much free time at the Capitol, and things move fast, especially during the short session.

Feb. 15 is the deadline for the first chamber to hold work sessions on bills; after that, bills that have not been voted on within the first chamber will not move forward this year. In the regular “long” session, this is a milestone well into April.

Unlike the long session, legislators are restricted to introducing two bills during the short session. I stopped one of my bills early in the session when I realized it was going to be a larger conversation than I first thought.

My second bill has moved through the committee process in the first chamber and will be making its way to the House floor for a vote on Feb. 16.

This week on the House floor we were able to vote for and ultimately pass the “Anna and Abigail Law,” which closes a hit-and-run loophole. HB 4055 requires drivers to take specific actions upon learning they have been involved in a collision. Currently, these requirements only take effect if a driver realizes they have been in an accident.

I sat through testimony on this bill in House Judiciary and it was hard; there was a lot of sadness in the hearing room. It was good to see this bill pass the House unanimously and bring at least a little relief to the family involved.

As you know, we have more controversial bills coming our way that I will be paying close attention to.

I appreciate my constituents taking part in the legislative process and staying involved while we move through the short session.

Sherrie Sprenger represents most of Linn County, including Lebanon, as part of her 17th District of the Oregon House of Representatives, where she has served since 2008. Prior to her service in the legislature, she was chair of the  Lebanon School Board.