Just like the first day of school

It feels like the first day of school.

I have all my new supplies laid out. I have my new class schedule. There will be new people to meet with whom I will get to visit once again – some of my old friends.

I also have a new desk…and office. Picture day will be the first day and I have a new outfit picked out.  Most importantly, I have a new, fresh perspective to face the challenges ahead of me.

However, it is not the first day of school I am anticipating. It is the start of the 2019 session. The first day of session feels very much like the first day of school.

Monday, Jan. 14, is the official start and swearing-in of the 80th Legislative Assembly.

January of odd-numbered years marks the beginning of the two-year cycle for the Legislature. This milestone has occurred, consistently, since Oregon became a state in 1859.

The opening day is when both the House and Senate chambers convene, and every legislator is sworn in for a new term. After the swearing in, we begin to do business and vote.

The first vote, as it is called, is to choose the Speaker of the House.  It goes without saying that a representative from the party in the majority will be chosen.

After the Speaker is chosen then a very formal cascade of decisions begins. A Speaker Pro Tempore is nominated and voted on in addition to a Chief Clerk. Bills are read for the first time and logged into the system.

In the afternoon there is a Joint Session in the House chamber. This consists of all House and Senate members, Appeals and State Supreme Court Judges, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Labor Commissioner, and all former Governors and Speakers of the House.

This is when the governor will be escorted into the legislative chamber for her swearing-in cere-mony and will give her inauguration address.

The day is filled with receptions and pomp and circumstance.

In 2009, the first time I experienced opening-day ceremonies, I was quite frustrated at what I viewed as a lack of productivity for the day. While getting ready to leave at the end of the day, I complained to my new staffer that I felt like I wasted the whole day and didn’t accomplish a thing.  I will never forget the response that came from that fresh out of college, 23 year old… “You were sworn in as a State Representative, that’s something!”

Ten years later, when opening day rolls around I think about her comment. Although, the legislative session is a grueling process and, as my friends and family say, I have no life. It is an amazing privilege to be one of 90 people who have the opportunity to experience, first hand, a ceremony that has taken place every other year since 1859.

This is a good time to say thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your state representative.