Q & A with Sen. Kim Thatcher
Like her Republican colleagues, Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, who represents Wilsonville in Senate District 13, spent much of the recently completed legislative session on the defensive.
Facing a Democratic supermajority, Republicans had little hope of passing bills that didn't have widespread bipartisan support. In turn, they used much of their time and energy attempting to scuttle bills proposed by Democrats.
The climax of this strategy occured when Thatcher and fellow Senate Republicans fled the state capitol to prevent a vote on cap and trade legislation. The tactic, and particularly Sen. Brian Boquist's, R-Dallas, comments telling the Oregon State Police to "send bachelors and come heavily armed" if they attempted to arrest him for his transience, placed Oregon in the national spotlight.
In an email correspondence (Thatcher would not agree to a phone interview), Thatcher gave her take on the incident and the rest of the legislative session. Comments for clarity are formatted in italics.
Spokesman: What was your rationale behind introducing the successful daylight savings time bill? (This bill keeps daylight savings time permanent to avoid biannual time changes)
People are sick of the time switch, I've heard about it and worked on this issue for years. Regardless of whether they want Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time, they want to Ditch the Switch. It was clear that whatever we did, it needed to be in sync with California and Washington.
Spokesman: What are some other successful bills you championed that you think will benefit Wilsonville citizens? How so?
I was disappointed that our bill to get the Boone bridge construction project did not pass. Our district really needs I-5 unclogged in that area. (The legislature did, however, add a budget note mandating that the Oregon Department of Transportation complete a study to determine the cost for the project, which would add a southbound auxiliary lane and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge).Too often people want to know what laws were passed when stopping bad laws is as important, if not more important. We stopped some tax hikes, protected doctor-patient relationships, protected families' rights to defend themselves, and I worked across the aisle to make some bad bills for businesses and individuals less egregious.
Spokesman: What were some of your qualms with the cap and trade bill that did not pass? The unsuccessful bill would have set up a program where certain companies would have to purchase carbon emission allowances and was designed to reduce emissions.
The bill was not an environmental bill as advertised. It was a crony slush fund that would have given unelected bureaucrats unlimited power to enter our state into binding contracts with other states and foreign governments. That means our state would be legally bound to potentially long-term, environmentally useless, economically damaging commitments impossible to reverse and with no future accountability to the citizens.
Spokesman: Why was the walk-out the appropriate course of action to stop that bill? Do you think the potential continued use of walkouts to scuttle legislation would threaten the functionality of the legislature?
The procedural tool of denying a quorum has been used by both parties all over the country and in our state. This was no different and it was an appropriate response to the supermajority's overreach. We didn't actually leave in order to stop the bill. We wanted Democrats to allow an avenue for citizens of the state to weigh in. We, at the very least, wanted removal of the emergency clause (stipulating that the law would take effect upon Gov. Kate Brown's signature) so this could happen. The Legislature's functionality has been threatened by the supermajority's unwillingness to truly work across the aisle and hear real concerns from Oregonians and their elected officials.
Spokesman: What was your reaction to Sen. Boquist's comments? Do you think he should be further punished? Do you think his comments were justified and/or misrepresented?
Sen. Boquist's comments were strong. Maybe even overly strong in light of the coverage they received. However, the one or two sentences that were repeated again and again in the media were not put in the proper context of what he was really speaking about. His comments were spoken in defense. He spoke of defending himself from the governor's threats to politically imprison Republicans and defending himself from the Senate President's threats to send OSP (Oregon State Police) officers after Republicans exercising their lawful rights to protest the supermajority. The threat to arrest the transient Republicans was also allowed under law.
Spokesman: Do you think the rift between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate can be resolved? If so, how will that happen?
The "rift" could be defined as merely the philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans. For there to be no rift, we would all have the same opinions. So the legislative process is riddled with differences in opinion. We all want our state to succeed but we sometimes disagree about how to do that. And it's been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A super-majority has super power. Trust can be restored when there's a better balance of this power. Until then, it can happen by the supermajority bringing Republicans to the table at the beginning of the legislative session to work on legislation from the start. The walkout denied the Democrats their power and a balance was restored, if temporarily.
Spokesman: What would you have liked to have done this session that you weren't able to do because of the overwhelming Democratic control of the legislature?
I would have liked to strengthen our laws for informed consent in medicine and I would have liked to do more robust reforms for our state's foster system that is broken seemingly beyond will or repair. I would have preferred we fund our classrooms better — instead of simply raising taxes in the name of schools, where relatively little of it will land in the classrooms to help teachers and students.
Spokesman: What was it like, generally speaking, working in the senate this session while facing a supermajority?
The supermajority this session was, generally speaking, suppressive to anyone calling out their overreach. Legislators need to be able to speak their minds and represent their districts without fear of reprisal from the supermajority.
Spokesman: Why do you oppose the rent control and single family zoning bills that passed? These laws established a 7% limit on annual rent increases and established that middle housing must be allowable in single family residential zones in Wilsonville and other cities.
These kinds of laws don't work. That's been proven. They are gimmicks. These increased government regulations are attempted bandaids on a much larger problem created by government to begin with.
Spokesman: Which successful bills Democrats pushed through do you think will most negatively impact Wilsonville residents and why?
Definitely, the gross receipts tax (used to fund education), rent control and the state enforced shredding of single family residential zoning laws are going to hurt Wilsonville.
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