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Separation of Powers and Branches of Government in Oregon
This should be easy. Spoiler alert: It’s not

If you were taught any civics, probably the most basic thing you were taught is the three branches of government. You can probably still name them: The Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial Branches. Well, Oregon's founders didn't want you to rest on your laurels after 10th grade, so they created an appendage to the Executive. Article III, Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution spells it out.

Separation of powers. The powers of the Government shall be divided into three separate branches, the Legislative, the Executive, including the administrative, and the Judicial; and no person charged with official duties under one of these branches, shall exercise any of the functions of another, except as in this Constitution expressly provided.

Article III, Section 2 says it all starts with Legislative action:

Budgetary control over executive and administrative officers and agencies. The Legislative Assembly shall have power to establish an agency to exercise budgetary control over all executive and administrative state officers, departments, boards, commissions and agencies of the State Government.

Once the legislature has created executive agencies and given them a budget and a mission, they are under day-to-day control of the executive -- The Governor.

The Administrative Department is described in Article VI. Because the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer are elected officials in addition to the Governor, who is the head of the Executive Branch, they are deemed part of the Executive Branch, but not really. Get it? The fact that they are called out on the Oregon Constitution gives them a measure of independence from the Governor.

To further complicate things, there are two other agencies within the Executive Branch, which are not named as part of the administrative branch, but are separate elected officials. The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries as head of that agency and the Attorney General as head of the Oregon Justice Department are statewide elected officials in the Executive branch.

The Governor is in charge of all other agencies in state government. Most agencies have a board of commissioners, appointed by the Governor and in some cases, confirmed by the State Senate, to direct policy for the agency.




--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-12-02 19:50:38Last Update: 2020-12-03 10:23:17



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