Democrat Herald Editorial: Compromise gives boost to roads bill

From the Albany Democrat Herald:

Mark the day: On Wednesday, July 5, 2017, a chamber of the Oregon Legislature voted to approve a bill that pays for critical upgrades to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

The House of Representatives approved, on a 39-20 vote, House Bill 2017, which raises taxes and fees to fund the work. The vote was sufficient to hurdle the three-fifths “supermajority” required for tax increases. The bill quickly won approval, as expected, Thursday in the Senate and now moves to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.

The vote in the House, in particular, is worth noting and celebrating for a number of reasons: First, during the 2015 session, talks over a similar transportation package fell apart even before either chamber was able to vote on the measure. Despite pleas from Brown, who told legislators that she wouldn’t let them leave Salem without approving a transportation package, legislators did exactly that.  

Also worth noting: In Wednesday’s vote, Republicans and Democrats alike voted for the bill. Now, legislators like to talk about how much of their work passes with big bipartisan majorities, and that’s often true. But this session, on the biggest issues, bipartisanship has been hard to find. But 11 House Republicans voted for the transportation measure, and all but six Democrats voted for it. (Mid-valley legislators split their votes: Andy Olson of Albany and Dan Rayfield of Corvallis voted yes. Sherrie Sprenger of Scio and Mike Nearman of Independence voted no. In Thursday’s vote in the Senate, Sara Gelser voted yes and Fred Girod voted no.)

There’s something else worth celebrating about the Wednesday vote in the House: The measure representatives voted on this week, the result of two years of work by a panel of lawmakers (including Olson), won the votes it needed for passage through old-fashioned compromise.

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