Three members of Oregon’s State Senate are unable to seek reelection as conservatives have staged a walkout in protest of several Democratic-led proposals.
On Monday, Republican State Sens. Daniel Bonham and Dennis Linthicum, in addition to Independent State Sen. Brian Boquist, had their 10th unexcused absences of this term.
In November, Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendmentthat stipulates lawmakers are banned from seeking reelection if they have 10 or more unexcused absences from floor sessions in a single term.
The bill was approved by voters after Republicans staged several similar walkouts in 2019 and 2020.
On social media, Linthicum called the measure supported by nearly two-thirds of Oregon voters last November “unconstitutional.”
“Measure 113’s Section 15 refers to qualifications for holding office in the future; it is not a requirement that every legislator must bow to the unlawful demands of today's majority,” he said. “Measure 113 is unconstitutional and a direct attack on the First Amendment.”
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Senate Republicans have boycotted sessions as Democrats have attempted to pass legislation addressing abortion rights, campaign finance reform and gun control. Republicans have claimed that the bills are unconstitutional.
Oregon has a lawthat requires bills have at least a 60 in the Flesch reading-ease test. Lower numbers mean the language is more complex and harder to comprehend.
“We have made a simple request: that bills comply with the law. Senate Rules are clear and Senate Democrats are violating them,” said Oregon State Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp. “Laws are to be plainly written and easy to understand. When the majority of bill summaries written demand a post-graduate degree to understand what the bills do, we disenfranchise Oregonians across the state and violate the law in the process.”
But Democrats say it’s the Republicans and Boquist who are not following the law. Majority Leader Kate Lieber said Republicans have an obligation to continue showing up in order for the Senate to have a quorum.
Walking out on our democracy is not an option,” Lieber said. I am deeply saddened for my colleagues. After extensive good faith negotiations, Republican leadership failed to protect three of their members and the communities who elected them. Democrats are here. We are doing our jobs, and we are confident that we can still deliver on the people's priorities.”
Democrats hold 17 of the Senate’s 30 seats. Oregon requires 20 senators to be present in order to have a quorum.
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