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Legislators must often weigh competing impulses

Bill the raises and lowers taxes creates hard choices for fiscal conservatives.

While every vote counts the same in the Oregon Senate, not all votes are created equal. Some decisions come harder than others, as legislators weigh competing impulses and political considerations.

Perhaps none have put it quite the same way that state Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, did on Monday during a floor debate on Senate Bill 212.

SB 212 would prevent Oregon taxpayers from writing off gambling losses when filing their state income taxes. Separately, it would create a tax deduction for school tuition.

Olsen, a staunch fiscal conservative who generally supports lowering taxes and opposes increasing them, was "torn."

"I really want to vote twice," Olsen said. "I want to vote 'no,' and I want to vote 'yes.' So can I say 'nyet?' I don't know if that's a combination."

"Nyet" is Russian for "no," which is ultimately how Olsen voted. All other Republican senators present joined him in voting against the bill. All Democrats present voted in favor.

SB 212 passed in the Senate along party lines. The bill now has not yet been assigned to a House committee.