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Since You Asked: Salem flowers few and far between

When I see footage of the Oregon Legislature on TV, I notice that every legislator's desk is bedecked with fresh flowers or a blooming potted plant. Who pays for these decorations?

— Linda H., Central Point

Whatever television station you're watching has some moldy file footage — they should probably update their "B-roll" stock from the Legislature.

Ramona Kenady, Oregon's chief clerk for the House of Representatives in Salem, says the only time flowers appear is typically the first day of a new session or a governor's inauguration.

"We don't have anything on members' desks after the first day, except for maybe a flag," Kenady says. "Someone might bring something down for a birthday, but it's usually pretty barren."

Because legislators can no longer receive gifts worth more than $10, decking out the House chamber was done in modest fashion with small azaleas.

The Oregon Nurseryman's Association has donated flowers at the beginning of each session for at least 30 years, says Kenady, who has been on the job that long.

"Because the total value couldn't exceed $600 (there are 60 house members)," Kenady says, "I went out and checked the retail value at Al's Garden Center (in Woodburn) and Fred Meyer.

And you know who paid for the gas to assure that the value of the plants didn't exceed the limit.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.