Midday Scan: Oregon lawmakers stall; Idaho's legislators outpace Washington on tanning beds; GOP v. women?

Every legislature has its moments of paralysis and action. Oregon is big on sitting still this year. Republicans seem to be running against women in 2012; did they forget that women already have achieved the right to vote? Idaho goes where Olympia fears to tread.

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The Idaho Legislature is looking at restricting the use of tanning beds by minors.

Every legislature has its moments of paralysis and action. Oregon is big on sitting still this year. Republicans seem to be running against women in 2012; did they forget that women already have achieved the right to vote? Idaho goes where Olympia fears to tread.

Politicians love the vernacular of the old West. There's log rolling going on, hence the need to "horse trade." The vocabulary resonates with fans of The Searchers or How the West Was Won, although it reduces public service to an old-school gun fight. So, when politics intrudes and creates a "logjam," why don't we call the non-neck extenders what they are, namely, "chicken liver?"   

In Oregon the chicken livers are putting some key bills in cold storage thanks to election-year politics. As the Oregonian's Harry Esteve writes, "Oregon lawmakers, looking for any political advantage they can muster in an election year, have stalled on some of the biggest bills of the 2012 session, namely health care and education reforms pushed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Bills to move those issues sit in various states of limbo at the Capitol, while Republicans push their jobs agenda and Democrats are loath to hand them a political victory." 

The political balance is tenuous in the Oregon legislature with a 30-30 split in the state house and a 16-14 Democratic majority in the senate. It means that the fall elections will be intense and spirited enough to rouse, say, an aging poker player from Roseburg (where they certainly play for keeps but not with six-shooters at hand so much these days) while ensuring that inertia defines the legislative session.

Why not liquidate Washington state's art collection? It's simply sitting around looking, well, all arty. In the film The Artist, the character George Valentin is compelled to sell all of his art when he goes belly up, so why not Olympia? As the Herald's Theresa Goffredo reports, one bill wending its way through the state senate aims to do just that. Its sponsor is Sen. Karen Keiser, a Democrat from Kent. 

"Her idea with Senate Bill 6597 is to auction off works from the state art collection every two years. The bill directs the Washington State Arts Commission to choose which of the more than 4,000 pieces in the collection to sell, with a goal of raising a minimum of $5 million each time," Goffredo writes. "Under the bill, 60 percent of the funds would go to State Need Grant program, and 40 percent would be directed back to the arts commission to conserve, repair and acquire art."  

Republican strategists should keep an embossed copy of the 19th Amedment in their offices. Women, it seems, have been voting for nearly a century. While boorish male politicos transcend party, the gender divide has widened since the mid-1970s when the Democrats' support for abortion rights drew in suburban Republican women (however much it also alienated working-class Catholics and presaged the rise of Reagan Democrats). Perhaps Republicans are hoping that women will simply sit out this election?   

"Our nation's bizarre debate over contraception, prenatal tests and cancer screenings raises a question:  Are Republicans in 2012 intent on running with the platform that American women should be kept barefoot and pregnant?" the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "The theme on the GOP campaign trail seems to be cementing discrimination against gays and lesbians (using the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage) while rolling back the rights and access of women to birth control and abortion."     

The great Northwest landscape painter, Paul Havas, has died at 71. William E. Elston filed a tribute on the website for the Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance that features examples of Havas's sublime work. "In the studio Paul was a workhorse, always busy, always experimenting. He would often return to paintings years after they were first declared 'finished,' trying to bend their aesthetic direction a little more, sometimes even after they had been sold," Elston writes

"His 'Night City' paintings of the 1980s evoke a dormant, languid Seattle, with muted flashes of light that foreshadow its vitality. His mountain series was more abstract, with powerful shapes and jagged contrasts," Ronald Holden writes in today's Crosscut. "In his career, Havas returned again and again to the flatlands of the Skagit Valley, the Snohomish Valley, and the Long Beach peninsula, much as the plein-air painters of Paris moved from the city to the river estuaries of the coast of France."  

Lastly, while we all ache for sunlight, its artificial variety, e.g., tanning beds, puts patrons at risk for melanoma. It's a risk compounded when minors begin tanning at earlier and earlier ages. As the Spokesman Review's Betsy Russell writes, "After two days of emotional testimony from melanoma survivors and dermatologists, an Idaho House committee today approved legislation to ban minors from using tanning beds in the state." So, why have Olympia's efforts stalled on something so obvious?  

Link Summary

The Oregonian, "Election-year politics intrudes at Oregon Legislature, stalls key bills"

The Herald, "Bill would sell off state's art collection"

Seattlepi.com, "A Republican platform for American women — barefoot and pregnant?"

Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance, "A tribute to Paul Havas" 

The Spokesman-Review, "Idaho lawmakers look to ban kids from tanning beds"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson