It's the Law, Not Politics

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

Jeff Kruse now says he's thinking of resigning as the state representative from House District 7. He shouldn't have to think long - certainly no longer than it takes to digest the meaning of Article IV, Section 8, paragraph 7 of the Oregon Constitution, which says legislators must live in their districts. Kruse no longer meets that requirement, so it's simple: He should quit, and the sooner the better.

Kruse moved to Roseburg from Sutherlin, and out of House District 7, in November. He intends to run for the state Senate in District 1, and legislative candidates must live in their districts for a year before the election. It's peculiar that Kruse would take such care to meet one of the residency requirements for legislative service, while treating another as though it were a matter of interpretation.

Only one interpretation is possible. In the language of the constitution: "No person shall be a Senator or Representative who at all times during the term of office of the person as a Senate or Representative is not an inhabitant of the district. ..." The provision makes exceptions for periods when the Legislature is in session, or following redistricting - neither of which applies in Kruse's case.

If the constitution isn't clear enough, the Voters' Pamphlet from 1995, when voters adopted the residency requirement, spells it out. Here's the question posed by Measure 22: "Shall ... district inhabitancy be required for legislators?" The explanatory statement says it again: "The measure ... requires all members of the Legislative Assembly to be inhabitants of the districts they represent at all times during their terms of office."

A committee of legislators appointed to prepare the legislative argument in support of Measure 22 put it this way: "It requires state Senators and Representatives to live in the district they represent during their terms of office. …