A lawsuit against the Oregon secretary of state by Republicans senators who are facing a re-election ban may be fast-tracked to the state supreme court.
The suit by five Republicans, including Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend, is over Measure 113. That’s the measure approved by 68% of Oregon voters last year to disqualify lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from running for reelection.
During this year’s six-week boycott in the legislature, nine Republican senators and one independent hit that 10 absence mark.
The senators who walked out say Measure 113 is flawed. While the public sector unions that pushed Measure 113 intended it to block absent lawmakers from running for their next term, the language says lawmakers with at least 10 unexcused absences cannot hold office “for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”
Since elections in Oregon are held before a lawmakers term is completed — not after — Republicans say the constitution plainly allows them to serve another term before penalties take effect.
Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade argued that it was clear what voters’ intent was — to prohibit legislators from holding office in the next immediate term.
Both sides have asked the Oregon Court of Appeals to send the lawsuit straight to the Oregon Supreme Court to determine what voters actually accomplished. That would bypass what would likely be a series of appeals after each court ruling.
Knopp, who is the Senate Minority Leader, has claimed Griffin-Valade is providing cover for Senate President Rob Wagner, a Democrat. He said the Senate President is the sole person deciding whether absences are excused.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.