Seven new members head into session
SALEM — When the Oregon Legislature convenes its 35-day "short" session Monday, five members of the House and two members of the Senate will be new.
"We're really looking forward to having some new members," said House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland.
Since the last policymaking session ended in July, there has been significant turnover, particularly in the House Republican caucus.
Out of the five new House members, four are Republicans. The exception is Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego. The former lobbyist for progressive issues was appointed in September to succeed Ann Lininger, after the former lawmaker accepted an appointment as Clackamas County Circuit Court judge.
Retired Portland Police Officer Rep. Jeffrey "Jeff" A. Helfrich, R-Hood River, was appointed to finish the term of former Rep. Mark Johnson, who left the Legislature to serve as CEO of Oregon Business & Industry.
Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, joined the House being appointed to fulfill the remainder of former Rep. John Huffman's term, which expires Dec. 31. Huffman resigned Oct. 28 to accept an appointment as Oregon director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development.
Rep. Denyc Boles, R-Salem, was appointed to succeed Rep. Jodi Hack, who resigned to take a job at the Oregon Home Builders Association.
Vale City Manager Rep. Lynn Finley, R-Ontario, was appointed to fill out the rest of former Rep. Cliff Bentz's term, after Bentz was appointed to succeed former Sen. Ted Ferrioli in the Senate's largest geographic district in Eastern Oregon.
House Republican Leader Mike McLane spun the turnover in his party's favor Monday during a legislative preview hosted by The Associated Press.
"We did have four members in two months' span leave the caucus," McLane said. "On the one hand, you could say, 'Gosh, people are leaving in high numbers.' On the other hand, I could say, 'Show me a House Democrat that is being offered a job, because all of these Republicans are being offered jobs in amazing opportunities, when you think about it."
In addition to Bentz moving to the Senate, Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, was appointed Monday, Jan. 29, to finish the term of former Ways and Means co-chairman Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin. Devlin left his seat to serve on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
Wagner, a member of the Lake Oswego School Board, plans to seek election to a full four-year term in the Senate seat, after he finishes out Devlin's terms at the end of this year, according to the Lake Oswego Review.