John Burns
  • Oregon State Senator, 1967-1974.
  • Senate President, 1971-1973.
  • Lobbyist, Western Petroleum Association, 1977-1997.

About Pres. Burns

John D. Burns hails from the Eastern Oregon town of Condon. His family were shopkeepers there and active in Democratic politics. Burns’ interest in the law led him to earn his law degree at Georgetown Law School. During his time in Washington, D.C., he also had the heady experience of working in Sen. Richard Neuberger’s office. While Burns worked for Rep. Patrick E. Dooley, he encouraged him to run for the legislature.

Burns ran for elective office and won election to the Oregon Senate by the age of 30. A significant accomplishment over his two terms in the senate was the complete revision of Oregon’s criminal code. He also created a task force on economic development, helping to develop a package of bills to create a department of economic development. The department helped to revitalize rural areas of Oregon and build up areas like Bend.

Burns served at Senate President from 1971-1973, after a stormy partisan election for the post based on the unique situation of an equally divided senate: 15 Republicans and 15 Democrats. During his tenure in the senate, he helped enact the wave of cutting-edge environmental legislation Oregon is known for like the Bottle Bill, Beach Bill and SB 100, Oregon’s Land Use Planning Law.

After his retirement from the legislature Burns served as a lobbyist for several petroleum companies for twenty years. Burns recounts that he: “…loved legislating, loved writing legislation, loved debating the bills, and getting them passed.” As someone with roots in urban and rural areas of the state he “believes strongly that when you cast a vote you have to cast it for everyone in the state.”

– Interview recorded June 11, 2018