Oregon Democrats vote to fine absent senators amid longest walkout in Legislature’s history


Salem, Ore. — Oregon Senate Democrats plan to begin fining their absent colleagues amid a month-long. Republican walkout, a move they hope will push boycotting lawmakers. Back into the chamber as hundreds of bills stall amid partisan impasse.

In a procedural move Thursday, Democrats voted to fine. Senators $325 each time their absence denies.

The chamber the two-thirds quorum needed to conduct business. The amount reflects the average daily pay of lawmakers. According to Democratic Senate President Rob Wagner’s office.

“Oregonians work for a living every day. And when they don’t show up, they don’t get paid,” Wagner said while addressing the Senate. “We have a huge stack of bills sitting right there in that cart, waiting for us to pick them up, debate and vote on them.”

A month-long Republican walkout — the longest in the Oregon Legislature. — Prevented the Senate from reaching a quorum again Thursday. But Kate Lieber, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader. Has invoked a clause in the state constitution. That requires the Senate to compel absent members to attend. And fines absentees $325 each day a quorum is not met.

His request was voted on and approv by other Democrats present on the Senate floor.

The article in the Oregon Constitution cited by the Democrats states that even if two-thirds of the members are not present, “a smaller number may meet … and the attendance of the absent members must be compulsory.”

Senate Republican Minority Leader Tim Knopp denounced the plan as retaliation.

Most Republican senators have not appeared for a floor session since May 3, denying a quorum. And stalling hundreds of bills including abortion, gender-affirming care. And gun control bills that have fueled intense debate in the legislature.

Knopp said Republicans will return to the Senate only. On the last day of the legislative session, June 25, to pass a budget and “bipartisan” bill. Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek said Wednesday that her talks to end the impasse have failed.

And that Knopp wants the abortion and gender-affirming care bill “amended or dead.”

Kotek said debating the measure, which has already passed the House, is not an option.

After Republicans staged previous walkouts in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Voters last November approv a ballot measure by a 70% margin that was suppos to stop the walkouts. Lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences would be ineligible. For re-election in the next term, according to the measure’s title and summary.

But the text of the measure says the disqualification applies to “the term following. The election after the end of the member’s current term.” Republicans are taking that to mean that the boycotters could run for re-election in 2024. Since their current terms expire in January 2025. — Making them ineligible for the 2028 election.

Secretary of State spokesman Ben Morris said.

The department is seeking a legal opinion from the Oregon. Department of Justice and will follow its advice. The Justice Department is currently working on a legal opinion. Roy Kaufman, a spokesman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Said in an email Wednesday.

Republican senators are expected. To file a court challenge if the secretary of state’s. Department of Elections prevents them from registering as candidates in September.

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