BEND, OR -- The 2019 Legislative session gets underway in less than two weeks, with much of Deschutes County represented by two freshman lawmakers. District 53 Representative-Elect Jack Zika and District 54 Representative-Elect Cheri Helt admit they have a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Zika says, "Things so trivial, like setting up your office, what office number, and how to get to certain points in the building. And then, the process; when you do submit legislation, where does it go? How do you get that in?" And, Helt tells KBND News, "The most surprising thing to me was the deadlines for bills. There was a deadline in December and so, as Representative-Elects, you’re allowed to put in Legislative concepts." They’ll be sworn in Monday. Then, Helt says, they’ll have four days to submit specific bills for consideration this session.
But, neither plans to go it alone. Zika says he will work closely with the retiring Rep. Gene Whisnant, who he's replacing, "I’ve called him and I’ve talked to him, I’ve had lunch with him. We work together really well so I look forward to being able to lean on him during the session, if I do have questions." Helt already thinks of her predecessor Dr. Knute Buehler as a mentor, "I’m proud to have him as a sounding board, as well as Representative Whisnant. I look forward to working with them, even as I move forward. I’m not viewing it as necessarily them not being involved, because I want to keep their thoughts and ideas moving forward."
Helt has been appointed to the Joint Committee for Student Success and will be Vice Chair of the House Education Committee, "Education is really my top priority and I’m super honored that I’ve been put on these two committees to be able to move that conversation forward." She has served on the Bend-La Pine School Board since 2010 and she says she’d like to remain, if possible, "I will decide as our schedules come out. And so, when those are finalized, I will be able to decide if I will have time to be in Bend for the School Board meetings or not. It’ll come down to what my schedule is going to allow me to do." Helt is also on the House Human Services & Housing Committee, along with Zika. He will also serve on the Energy & Environment and Veterans & Emergency Preparedness Committees.
Thursday evening, Helt, Zika and Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) will take part in the Bend Chamber's What's Brewing forum, at 10 Barrel Brewing. They'll discuss priorities for the 2019 session and what it's like to be a Republican in the Democrat-led Legislature. Click HERE for more information.
Following Monday's swearing-in, lawmakers have several days of training before the full session begins January 22.