- A Republican-led boycott of the Democrat-led Senate in Salem, Oregon, has entered its 10th day.
- GOP lawmakers in Oregon staged a walkout to block hundreds of bills including measures on abortion and gender reassignment.
- One Independent and two Republicans were disqualified from re-election after accumulating 10 unexcused absences during the Oregon walkout.
Two Republicans and an Independent who took part in a boycott that stalled hundreds of bills in the Oregon Senate, including measures on abortion and sex-affirming care, were disqualified Monday from re-election under a new constitutional amendment aimed at stop such walkouts.
The GOP-led walkout of the Democratic-led Senate has reached 10 days, though some participating lawmakers have cycled in and out since the boycott began on May 3. Each of the three affected senators has accumulated 10 no permitted absences, so they are ineligible to serve in the Legislature for the period after their terms expire under a ballot measure passed by voters last year.
“The majority of Senate Republicans continue to walk away from the job the voters elected them to, where our Constitution compels them to attend,” Senate President Rob Wagner said from the Senate podium. He added in an email: “Three senators have now unnecessarily disqualified themselves from a subsequent term in the Legislature.”
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Sen. said. Tim Knopp, the Senate Republican Leader, said Monday that during weekend negotiations to end the boycott, he told Democratic leaders that Republicans would end their boycott “to pass budgets and bills that are big two parties according to the law and the constitution.”
Wagner has previously said that the widespread abortion rights-gender affirming care measure is non-negotiable. Republicans want it off the table.
Knopp said all 12 Republican senators took part in Monday’s boycott “in solidarity” with the three senators facing disqualification. He criticized Democrats for promoting an “extreme” agenda.
“Let it be clear: this is just the beginning of the fight,” Knopp said in a statement.
The three boycotting senators who reached the 10-day limit for automatic disqualification are Republicans Dennis Linthicum and Daniel Bonham and Independent Brian Boquist, a former Republican.
Ballot Proposition 113 was passed by nearly 70% of voters in November as a way to end the walkouts that have plagued the Legislature for several years. It is already written in the state Constitution.
The Constitution now states that missing 10 or more floor sessions “shall be considered disorderly conduct and shall disqualify the member from serving as senator or representative for the term following the election after the completion of the current term of member.”
But what is not clear is whether they can run for office as candidates.
Perhaps the test will come when the window for filing as candidates in the 2024 election opens in September.
Ben Morris, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, previously said courts have interpreted election laws to say the Division of Elections cannot allow a candidate on the ballot if it knows the candidate is will not be eligible for office.
But an explanatory statement for Ballot Proposition 113 says a disqualified candidate “may run for office … and win, but may not hold office.”
Court challenges are expected. Boquist said in an email Monday that he believes he will be allowed on the ballot if he offers himself as a candidate in 2024.
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“The Elections Division has no authority over the absence clause of the Oregon Constitution,” Boquist said. “They will avoid it completely.”
Bonham and Linthicum did not immediately respond to requests for comment on their disqualifications. Linthicum’s seat is also up for election in 2024, Bonham’s in 2026.
In a May 9 email to constituents, Bonham accused Democrats of ignoring a long-forgotten 1979 law that said summaries of bills had to be written at the eighth-grade level — a law that was revived today. month of the Republicans.
Bonham also criticized the abortion-protection bill as an attack on parents’ rights because it does not require girls to inform their parents of their decision to have an abortion.
“I will not sit back and help advance the majority’s extreme and unconstitutional agenda — especially their complete and unequivocal repeal of the law,” Bonham wrote.
On Monday, only 16 senators attended, four short of the quorum. Wagner begged them to come back. Under Oregon law, a quorum in the Senate or House is two-thirds of the members present.
“There’s still time for senators to come back and do their work — 41 days before the end of the 2023 legislative session,” Wagner said. “We have very important work this session. We are here to fund our schools, to support our seniors, to fix our infrastructure and our bridges, and make Oregon a great place to live and raise families.
He reminded lawmakers that the Legislature must also approve a biennial state budget before the end of June.
Meanwhile, Senate and joint committees, where a quorum was reached with 50% attendance, continued Monday, with some Republicans in attendance.