Oregon Republicans Go Full Ferris Bueller To Block Democratic Bills
Oregon Republicans can’t prevent Democrats from passing sensible legislation addressing the climate crisis, upholding abortion rights, and defending the LGBTQ community. However, they can flee the state and deny Democrats the quorum necessary to conduct business. Oregon is one of the few states that requires at least two thirds of legislators present to do much of anything, even order a pizza.
This was a common practice during previous legislative sessions, enough so that voters last year overwhelmingly approved Measure 113, which disqualifies lawmakers from serving another term if they have 10 unexcused absences in a single session (presumably attending the funeral for Sloane Peterson's grandmother doesn’t count).
PREVIOUSLY: Oregon Republicans Take Ball, Go Home, Throw Away Ball, Get Wins For Rest Of Season, Demand Payment For Ball They Stole And Games They Didn't Play, And Get It
Republican state senators called Measure 113's bluff and recently walked off the job in protest against Democratic-led bills that would protect and expand access to reproductive and gender-affirming health care. They're also protesting popular gun regulations.
All but two Republicans bailed on the May 3 legislative session. Minority Leader Tim Knopp said this was because Democrats broke an apparent chamber rule against excessive fancy talk.
"When the majority of bill summaries written demand a post-graduate degree to understand what the bills do, we disenfranchise Oregonians across the state and violate the law in the process," he said.
Majority Leader Kate Lieber, presumably suppressing a giggle fit, said the content of the bills offended Republicans more than their language. "It is no coincidence that Republicans are employing these embarrassing antics as the Senate is about to vote on bills that protect reproductive health freedom and establish common sense gun safety laws," she said
Republicans have denounced the wide-reaching Democratic bill as too extreme but in fact the bills are extremely good. There are new protections for people who identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth. It also expands the covered treatments under insurance to include facial feminization surgery and laser hair removal. These aren't simple cosmetic surgeries but have a significant positive impact on mental health.
By Thursday, 10 state senators had exceeded the maximum unexcused absences and are officially ineligible for re-election. They are Republicans Daniel Bonham, Lynn Findley, Bill Hansell, Cedric Hayden, Dennis Linthicum, Tim Knopp, Art Robinson, Kim Thatcher, and Suzanne Weber, plus former Republican turned independent Brian Boquist. It's possible they might sue over Measure 113's constitutionality, but ultimately they are willing to end their political careers to oppose the bills. This is admirable if still evil.
The walkout endangers several other bills, and since there’s no punitive difference between missing 10 days or the remaining 40 in the session, they could block almost anything from passing for the foreseeable future. The measure doesn’t force expulsion, just prevents them from serving another term, and their replacements could similarly derail the legislature.
People with “both sides” brain will focus on the tactics and not the motivation. That’s like saying shooting a serial killer is no different from the serial killer shooting you. (Unless you’re a serial killer who's shooting yourself, but we don’t have time for metaphysics.)
Texas Dems Taking Surprise Field Trip To DC To Show 'Em How Democracy Works
Nebraska Dem Just Gonna Filibuster Eeeeeeeeverything
A couple years ago, Texas Democrats staged a walkout to block passage of a Republican voter suppression bill, and in Nebraska, Democratic badass women have filibustered Republicans' anti-trans legislation. (The hateful bill, unfortunately, passed on Friday.)
However, there's nothing hypocritical about deriding Oregon Republicans and celebrating Nebraska Democrats. You use the tools available to stop bad bills that hurt people. Using those same tools to block bills that help people is not in the same league.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."