Ten Oregon state senators, including one from Central Oregon, have now reached 10 days of absence during the ongoing Republican walkout. That means those 10 may not be allowed to be re-elected, at least not for another consecutive term.
Among those who reached 10 absences Thursday was Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp of Bend.
The walkout began May 3 with Knopp complaining about Democrats’ “extreme” bills, including a sweeping measure on abortion rights and gender-affirming care, and insisting that bill summaries be written at an eighth-grade level. He and other Republicans are also citing a long forgotten 1979 “readability” law that a GOP Senate staffer discovered in the archives in April.
To have a quorum, two-thirds of senators must be present for bills to be voted on. The walkout by Republicans and an Independent senator prevents that.
Under a new constitutional amendment — created after 68% of Oregon voters approved a ballot measure in November aimed at ending chronic walkouts — nine Republicans and the Independent Party senator are disqualified from reelection because they accumulated 10 unexcused absences.
Republicans are reportedly already working on a way to fight that voter-approved amendment.
Knopp and Senate President Rob Wagner, a Democrat, both made statements Thursday in which they claim to be fighting for things Oregonians want.
“While Democrats are laser focused on the issues that do nothing but divide, we are focused on the real issues Oregonians care most about – homelessness, affordable housing, public safety, cost of living, job creation, and fully-funded education. We are committed to getting the People’s work done, not facilitating an extreme, unlawful, unconstitutional agenda,” Knopp said.
“Certain senators continue to disrespect our Democracy,” Wagner said. “This walkout is about shutting down debate on this floor and stopping bills that the people of Oregon say they want.”
The senate did not convene due to the absences and was adjourned until Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.