Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet The Only State Rep Not In Charge Of Anything

Thanks to the evenly divided nature of the Oregon House this year, every single committee has two Co-Chairs--one Democrat and one Republican. And, every single committee has two Co-Vice Chairs. All told, counting subcommittees and joint House/Senate committees, there are 23 different committees on which a House member can serve. With four leadership positions per committee, that creates a whopping 92 different opportunities for a state representative to have a position of authority (albeit a rather limited authority in the case of a "Co-Vice Chair").  With only 60 representatives, clearly there are titles to go around. And since two of those representatives have been elected Co-Speakers of the House, that leaves 58 representatives to share 92 leadership positions. Should be a slam dunk, right?

For 57 of those 58 lawmakers, the answer was "yes." Only Yamhill County Republican Jim Weidner came up short. He'll serve the 2011 legislative session as the sole state representative who can't claim a Co-Chair or Co-Vice Chair spot. Weidner downplayed that distinction when I asked him about it today. He said he didn't mind not having a leadership position, as that would allow him to spend more time with his family instead of at the capitol. Weidner said he did request to serve on three specific committees and was granted that request. One of them is the House Health Care Committee. That means he'll be serving side-by-side with Democrat Mitch Greenlick, who chaired that committee during the last session and who grilled Weidner during an uncomfortable exchange that was gleefully circulated by House Democrats. If Weidner is still serving on all three commitees by the end of his term, he'll be doing better than he did last session when he was unceremoniously removed from two of his three committees by House Democratic leadership.