Legislation that aims to boost transparency and accountability passes with bipartisan support.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Legislation that aims to boost transparency and accountability for elected officials passed the Oregon House with bipartisan support Tuesday.
House Joint Resolution 31 passed on a 47-12 vote. The bill would allow the legislature to impeach for “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor.”
If it were to become law, the House would begin the process and the Senate would conduct a trial.
From Willamette Week:
Oregon is currently the only state in which the Legislature cannot impeach executive branch elected officials. The lack of impeachment authority became an issue prior to Kitzhaber’s resignation when both Sen. President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) called on the governor to quit but had no avenue to force him to do so.
“This resolution is not a weapon, but a tool for accountability of the executive branch,” said one of the measure’s sponsors, Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem) in a statement. “It is constructed in a manner that provides for a difficult yet fair process of impeachment, and while we all hope that it is never needed, we need to have this tool available so that the integrity and duties of the executive branch are maintained.”
“It strengthens Oregon’s system of checks and balances by providing an option, in very serious circumstances, for elected executive branch officials to be removed from office.” House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) said in a statement. “It includes protections against abuse to ensure that the proceedings are carried out with integrity.”
One Oregon lawmaker was wary of implementing an impeachment process, according to the Register-Guard.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Portland Democrat, said he believes the existing recall rules are a better way to ensure accountability for elected officials.
“I’ve watched our federal government make a mockery of the impeachment process,” he said.
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