There once was a group of men at a church who had the assignment to move a grand piano from one room to another. The piano was very heavy and several of the concerned volunteers discussed ideas on how to move it without harming themselves or the piano. Finally, a wise man suggested they all should gather close around the piano and together “lift where you stand.” They did so and the piano was easily moved because of the unified effort. What we do here in the Oregon State Legislature is often like the men in this story.
Politics is a team sport. In addition to statewide efforts, individual legislators have issues in their home districts that deserve solutions without concern for party or politics. Whenever possible, I try to “lift where I stand” and help other legislators craft solutions that benefit the people in their districts.
For instance, Rep. Lew Frederick proposed a bill to help his Portland neighborhoods do something about the blight of abandoned houses that attract squatters, drug dealers and derelicts. The bill originally contained provisions that assessed a $150 fine per day against property owners who failed to maintain the properties, but did not include a solution to the underlying problem.
After the public hearing I asked Rep. Frederick what he was trying to accomplish. He said he wanted to enable residents in blighted neighborhoods to do something about abandoned homes that sometimes sit empty for years. We worked together to amend his bill with language that, where possible, notifies owners of the need to clean up and maintain empty properties. If nothing is done, local government can do the maintenance and place a priority lien for the amount of the “actual and demonstrable costs” incurred. This solution was a win/win and has been signed into law.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have such stories of working together for the common good. It’s an honor to work with such dedicated legislators and to serve the citizens of my district and all of Oregon.