Elections matter even when your side loses. In November 2022, the Republicans did not gain a majority in the Oregon Senate. By the GOP gaining just one seat, however, the Democratic Party lost its supermajority and cannot enact a new tax without at least one Republican or Independent vote.
The change also means the 17 Democrat senators now need at least three Republican/Independent senators to form a quorum and conduct business.
In November, voters passed Ballot Measure 113, which purportedly ended the Republicans’ ability to deny quorum. Under the new measure, having 10 or more unexcused absences means a senator cannot run for reelection.
The surprising news this year is that Republican senators Bonham, Findley, Hansell, Hayden, Knopp, Linthicum, Robinson, Thatcher and Weber along with Independent Sen. Boquist are risking their political careers to serve their constituents. Beginning May 3, these 10 Oregon senators missed the roll call vote and denied quorum. As long as that continues, neither the budget nor any other bills can be passed.
The hyper-partisan bills stopped include HB 2002, which would eliminate parental notification for daughters of any age getting abortions, or sons or daughters getting sex-change hormones and operations. HB 2005 and SB 348 would codify and worsen Measure 114’s gun restrictions. These bills and others much be stopped by all legal means.
Ironically, Measure 113 was so poorly written these senators should get another four to six years to serve their constituents – potentially more if Measure 113 is deemed unconstitutional.
The pressure to compromise and come back to the session before it ends on June 25 will be intense. These senators must hold firm and deny quorum through June 25. Life will go on without any more laws, and the budget can be passed in a special session.
These senators should remember the words given to Joshua before entering the Promise Land: “Be strong and courageous.”
These 10 senators will make history by standing their ground and hanging together. Now is the time for them to stay strong, stay courageous and stay away from the Senate floor.