Partisan tensions in Oregon skyrocketed this week because Republican state senators haven’t shown up to work since Tuesday, meaning the Democrats who control the chamber don’t have enough people to lawfully convene. The move is casting doubt on planned votes set for this week on legislation about gun control, abortion rights and gender-affirming health care.
Republicans said they were protesting over bill summaries not being written in plain language. They based their boycott on a 1979 state law that requires the summaries of bills to be readable by those with an eighth- or ninth-grade education — measured by a score of at least 60 on something called the Flesch readability test. That law reads:
“Any measure digest or measure summary prepared by the Legislative Assembly shall be written in a manner that results in a score of at least 60 on the Flesch readability test or meets an equivalent standard of a comparable test.”
This is the summary for House Bill 2002 on abortion and gender-affirming care, as posted on the legislature website. You can read the summary for yourself below to determine if you believe it is readable.
Modifies provisions relating to reproductive health rights. Modifies provisions relating to access to reproductive health care and gender-affirming treatment. Modifies provisions relating to protections for providers of and individuals receiving reproductive and gender-affirming health care services. Creates crime of interfering with a health care facility. Punishes by maximum of 364 days’ imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both. Creates right of action for person or health care provider aggrieved by interference with health care facility. Makes statutory change to achieve gender neutral language with respect to unlawful employment discrimination because of sex. Declares public policy regarding interstate actions arising out of reproductive health care and gender-affirming treatment. Prohibits public body from participating in interstate investigation or proceeding involving reproductive health care and gender-affirming treatment. Creates exceptions. Prohibits clerk of court from issuing subpoena if foreign subpoena relates to reproductive health care or gender-affirming treatment. Declares that Oregon law governs certain actions arising out of reproductive health care or gender-affirming treatment provided or received in this state. Repeals criminal provisions relating to concealing birth. Appropriates moneys from General Fund to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for allocation to Office of Rural Health, for purposes of providing grants through rural qualified health center pilot project. Appropriates moneys from General Fund to Oregon Health Authority for specified expenses. Declares emergency, effective on passage.
Central Oregon Daily News ran the summary through four different online tests that claim to check the Flesch readability score. Two labeled it as a college graduate level read. Another labeled it as hard to read and a fourth put it at a grade level of 14.15.
We also ran the bill summary for Senate Bill 991 through four tests. The chief sponsor is Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend. It reads as follows:
Allows personal income and corporate excise taxpayers to subtract from taxable income amounts paid as principal and interest on qualified education loans, if borrower is taxpayer or spouse, dependent or employee of taxpayer. Reduces amount of allowed subtraction by amounts of interest deducted on federal return. Applies to loan payments made in tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2023, and before January 1, 2029. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Results from those four tests included:
- Hard to Read with a grade level of 13.
- Very Difficult to read and that it’s college graduate level.
- Difficult to read and it’s college level.
- Grade level of 13.75.