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Oregon Measure Would Require More Disclosure From Lobbyists

File photo of the Oregon House chamber. The Oregon House approved a $7.3 billion spending plan Tuesday.
Cacophony
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File photo of the Oregon House chamber. The Oregon House approved a $7.3 billion spending plan Tuesday.

Oregon lawmakers are considering making lobbyists provide more information about the bills they're working on. The House Rules Committee heard testimony on the measure Tuesday.

It would make lobbyists publicly disclose their clients' positions on each measure they're trying to influence. The goal is more transparency in government.

But lobbyist Dan Bates warned that could lead to an overwhelming amount of data. Bates is working for 18 clients this session and he said some of them will likely change their position on a bill multiple times.

"If a position changes the day after a reporting requirement, we will have just presented inaccurate and frankly dead wrong information on a particular bill,” Bates said. “And the hard work of building coalition and seeking consensus can be destroyed by that misinformation."

The measure is modeled after similar disclosure requirements in six other states. Its sponsor, Corvallis Democrat Dan Rayfield, said state elections have strict disclosure requirements and that he's trying to bring a similar level of disclosure to the legislative process.

"We know exactly who is influencing the folks who get to this building," Rayfield said. "But once you get inside this building, we don't have a lot of information on what is actually influencing the decision-making process inside."

While the association of lobbyists that ply the capitol's hallways is officially neutral on the measure, Rayfield said he's managed to unite some of their clients in opposition to the proposal.

Rayfield is also the only sponsor listed on the bill, something which prompted some ribbing from House Republican leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte.

"I know that a lot of flu victims are also isolated," he said. "I would imagine your isolation may last awhile on this bill."

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.