Transparency Advocates Push Oregon Lawmakers to Put Their Names on Bills

Lawmakers and regular Oregonians interested in tracking an issue face a common conundrum: Who exactly introduced a bill and the amendments?
July 16, 2013
 

Sen. Alan Olsen introduced the bill in 2011, 2012 and in the 2013 session that just ended.

After three years of no luck, the Canby Republican still plans to try again in the February 2014 session, pushing a bill that would require lawmakers to put their names on proposed amendments.

"It's called transparency," he said. "Bottom line: If you're willing to write an amendment, you should be willing to put your name on it."

Lawmakers and regular Oregonians interested in tracking an issue face a common conundrum: Who exactly introduced a bill and the amendments?

It can be difficult, if not impossible, to discover which lawmaker was behind a despised or beloved bill when the sponsor is listed as a committee instead of a lawmaker. Amendments, which can be used to change legislation wholesale, do not list lawmakers' names either.

The lack of transparency makes it difficult for voters to learn more about proposed legislation and to track the performance of lawmakers, some legislators and political observers say. The process can even result in a lawmaker being listed as the sponsor of a bill he or she does not support.

Others say the anonymity afforded by committee-sponsored bills allows lawmakers to focus on policies rather than politics or personalities.

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