Oregon House divided can stand: 'We're putting down the fighting gloves'

Oregon House divided can stand: 'We're putting down the fighting gloves' »Play Video
Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, and Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, share co-Speaker of the House duties this legislative session.

SALEM, Ore. - Two lawmakers from rural Oregon will lead the state House of Representatives in the 2011 session when the legislature begins work in earnest next week.

The Roseburg Republican and Coos Bay Democrat talked to KVAL News about how they plan to make it work.

The co-Speaker situation arose from a House divided: the 2010 elections delivered an Oregon House of Representatives split right down the middle between Democrats and Republicans.

Democrat Arnie Roblan is from Coos Bay and Republican Bruce Hanna is from Roseburg.

What they lack in political similarities they make up for geographically and culturally.

"We both come from rural Oregon," Hanna said. "Our districts are not too dissimilar from a geographic standpoint, from a labor force work point."

"Our rural areas have been hit for a long time," Roblan said. "We understand that there isn't any one way that's the right way. It's the way that works for all of us working together."

That cooperative spirit will be important coming out of what was a bitterly partisan session last time around in Salem.

Hanna and Roblan want to prove a house divided can stand.

"All of us wanted to have an opportunity to set the stage and show Oregonians that we can work together and make this right for the state," Roblan said.

"I think we're beginning to build a trusting relationship," Hanna said. "It's been a great start, and I want Oregonians to understand that we're working closely together."

Both Hanna and Roblan will tell you there have been challenges, starting with developing rules for the split House.

"We struggled as negotiation teams to figure out exactly what that sweet spot would be where both of us could feel like we knew we had equal representation with respect to how the place was going to work," Roblan said.

The two lawmakers hope to maintain a spirit of cooperation.

"It's going to be terribly important that we follow through," Hanna said.

"We're putting down the fighting gloves," Roblan said, "and we're taking out and shaking hands and starting to work together."