NPV in Oregon
The more they think about it, the less they think of it
Deep thinking and deliberation are getting in the way of the National Popular Vote campaign in Oregon (HB 3517). This is my conclusion after stopping briefly in Salem yesterday and talking with a few legislators and several legislative staff.
It was all true to a pattern that I’ve seen in my cross-country travels. NPV’s soundbites, at first, have some appeal. Yet as thoughtful legislators consider the novel—not to mention profoundly important—issue of how best to elect the President of the United States, they come to realize how many questions NPV simply does not, cannot, answer. Cosponsors back out; chairmen hold off.
NPV brags about how many bills they have had introduced, how many hearings have been held, but almost every time, NPV legislation has then died. Often the very same legislators who initially moved NPV later had second thoughts. This is happening in Oregon, and rightly so.
It is a credit to legislators when they are willing to consider all the evidence and even to change their minds. I always give legislators the benefit of the doubt—often talking with cosponsors and even prime-sponsors of NPV. Wisconsin is just one example of a state where legislators changed position after hearing the “other side.” (Yesterday was the only time I’ve encountered a rude legislator, Vicki Berger, who appeared desperately out of her depth and almost frantic that someone would disagree with her in her office.)
A legislative session isn’t over until it’s over. NPV has hired at least two high-powered lobbyists in Salem. (A lobbyist in another state capital who was offered a contract by NPV tells me that they pay “very well”; nevertheless, he recognized the threat NPV poses to our republic and he turned them down.) Yet a growing number of Oregon legislators are asking the right questions about NPV, making it evermore likely that the legislation there will fail.