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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Close Out 2013 Session


Oregon lawmakers have adjourned their 2013 legislative session. The final gavel fell just before 3 p.m. Monday.

House Speaker Tina Kotek carefully calibrated the final gavel to time it just right with her Senate colleague on the other side of the capitol rotunda. She then said to cheers, "The 77th legislative assembly is hereby adjourned Sine Die."

In the closing hours, lawmakers approved a flurry of bills that included more than $1 billion for construction projects around the state. They also approved pay raises for judges, the governor and four other statewide elected officials. And both chambers voted to allow bicycle and pedestrian projects to qualify for state transportation grants for the first time.

Republicans criticized that move. But Democratic Senator Rod Monroe defended the idea. "This does not guarantee that a single penny of this money would ever be spent on a bike or pedestrian project. It simply allows them to be eligible to apply."

The final days also included a vote to allow medical marijuana dispensaries and another to cap tuition increases at public universities. One bill that failed would have made voter registration automatic when you get a drivers’ license.

Oregon lawmakers voted earlier to cut cost of living increases for public sector retirees. But critics of Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS, are still hoping for more savings later.

The deeper cuts that were proposed towards the end of the session, which ultimately were not voted on into law, could come back possibly in some form, either next February or even sooner. Democratic Senate President Peter Courtney floated the idea of a special session later this year to make another run at a package to raise taxes and cut public pensions.

On the Web:

Oregon Legislature - official site
Chris Lehman's coverage of the Oregon legislature