Monday marked the sixth day of a boycott by Republican members of the Oregon senate, preventing the chamber from doing business.
Bills on abortion, gender-affirming care and gun control that Republicans oppose are at the forefront of this effort, but there are also bills that have both Democratic and Republican support that are on hold.
Some of those include:
- HB 3101 – Alyssa’s Law, which would require panic buttons in every school classroom that can send an immediate alert to law enforcement when there is perceived safety threat within the school building
- HB 2395 – increases the availability of Narcan and Naloxone, overdose reversing treatment
- HB 2147 – ensures unclaimed remains of veterans or survivors of veterans have honorable burial
- HB 2295 – broadens public contracting preference for veteran-owned businesses
- HB 2522 – addresses wildfire prevention by establishing Rural Structural Fire Protection Review Committee
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Republicans are basing their boycott on a 44-year-old state law that requires bill summaries to be written at the reading level of an eighth- or ninth-grader.
Since Republicans are intentionally skipping sessions, the senate is not meeting the quorum requirement of 20 present senators. That means they cannot vote on legislation. Currently, 17 senators are Democrats, 12 are Republicans and one is an independent.
“If that’s the situation and they are still doing walkouts and don’t have the quorum then nothing gets voted on,” OSU Cascades instructor and former Oregon legislator Judy Stiegler said Monday.
If Republican senators deny a quorum for the rest of the legislative session, which doesn’t end until late June, then a lot of bills could theoretically die.
“There are a lot of other bipartisan pieces of legislation that aren’t going to go anywhere, unless this gets stopped,” Stiegler said.
For now, neither side will budge.
Republicans have staged walkouts before. This year, legislators with 10 unexcused absences are disqualified for reelection thanks to a new constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November. As of Monday, some Republican senators were at six unexcused absences.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, has suggested Republicans may challenge the ten absences law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.