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In Wake of Kitzhaber Scandals, State Legislature Looks for Way to Impeach Future Governors

May 20, 2015-- In the wake of ethics allegations surrounding past Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and past First Lady Cylvia Hayes, the Oregon House just passed House Joint Resolution 31 on Tuesday -- to allow the impeachment of future governors.


The chief sponsor, State Representative Jodi Hack, R-Salem, said it was in response to the ethics scandals.


"I'd been contacted by several constituents asking during that time, 'Could Oregon impeach a governor?'" Hack told KBND. "And when that question was brought about, we found out that no, Oregon could not impeach a governor, and we were the only state that couldn't."


The Oregon House approved with a vote of 47-12. All party leaders signed onto it.


Although the resolution is mainly sponsored by Republicans, Hack said it has the approval of key Democrats, including Oregon Governor Kate Brown.


"I don't anticipate there to be a problem on that side," Hack said. I've met with the governor too, and she was supportive of the resolution."


The approval mirrors statements Brown made at her State of the State speech on April 17.


"Certainly, there is -- and will continue to be -- plenty of work to be done to resolve unanswered questions about the previous administration; work that will require the undivided attention of several members of my staff and, no doubt, the media, for months to come," Brown said in her speech. "In the meantime, I am taking action to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."


State Representative Jodi Hack said if the option had existed toward the end of Kitzhaber's time as governor -- he might have faced the impeachment process.


"I don't know," Hack said. "It's really interesting because most Oregonians already thought we had an impeachment process in place. So it may or may not have."


The resolution now goes to the State Senate. If it receives a majority of the vote, it will go before voters in the 2016 ballot. The resolution would let the State House deliver an impeachment with over three-fifths of the vote. The State Senate could convict with over two-thirds of the vote.

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