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Round-up royalty gets lesson in Oregon statehouse politics

SALEM -- The queen and court of the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon princesses gathered at the Capitol June 7 for a little lesson in politics, courtesy of Reps. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, Greg Smith, R-Heppner, and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Pendleton.

In the Willamette Valley to participate in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade June 8, the rodeo royalty and some of the rodeo's board members, who also were on hand, gained insight into some of the ins and outs of Salem politics.

On a tour of the House chambers, Jenson and Smith spoke of how 80 percent of the House lives within one-hour's drive of the Capitol.

That puts rural lawmakers, some of whom live five to eight hours from Salem, at a decided disadvantage when it comes to pushing the rural political agenda, Smith said.

But thanks to the seniority of Jenson, the longest serving member of the Oregon House, and Smith, the third-longest serving representative, northeast Oregon lawmakers manage to wield some influence, Smith said.

The key numbers in Oregon politics, Jenson said, are 31, 16 and one.

It takes 31 votes to get a bill through the Oregon House, Jenson told the rodeo royalty, 16 to get a bill through the Senate and one governor to sign a bill before it becomes law.

After the stop at the Capitol, the rodeo royalty were headed back to Portland to prepare for the next day's parade.

Randy Thomas, publicity director for the Round-Up, said that from what he has learned, the Pendleton Round-Up has participated in the Rose Festival since the Round-Up's founding in 1910, three years after the first Rose Festival.

"We're two of Oregon's oldest events," Thomas said.

--Mitch Lies


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