Sen. 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 he also had the heady experience of working in Sen. Richard Neuberger’s office.

Those early influences led him to run for elective office, and win 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. 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.”

You can help preserve history

When you donate to the Capitol Foundation or purchase Pacific Wonderland license plates for your car, you help create a living history of our Capitol and its history. Your support funds programs such as our oral history project. This program gives students, history buffs and our state’s future leaders an opportunity to learn about Oregon’s most important stories from the people who made it happen. Thank you!