Oregon Democrats to Seek Senate Rules Change, Won’t Fine Republicans for Walkout

 Twice this year, minority Republicans in the Oregon Senate used procedural rules to block majority Democrats from voting on legislation. Now, Oregon Senate Democrats have released a statement that majority Leader Ginny Burdick will introduce an amendment to the state constitution eliminating these procedures.   

Currently, two thirds of lawmakers must be present for there to be a quorum, and a vote cannot take place in the Legislature with anything less.   

46 other states only require a simple majority of lawmakers be present to constitute a quorum – and if Burdick is successful, Oregon would also require only a simple majority. Burdick will introduce the matter during the next legislative session, and lawmakers could refer the matter to voters as early as the 2020 general election.  

Senators That Fled the State Won’t be Fined  

Senate Democrats also announced the eleven Republican senators that walked out of the Oregon Capitol to kill a cap-and-trade bill earlier this year will not be fined after all. While they did commit a fineable offense, Senate leaders say they would prefer to concentrate on passing the aforementioned constitutional amendment.  

If the fines had been invoiced, each senator would have been billed at $500 a day, which would have been $3,500 per senator.   

Prior to actually walking out to kill the cap-and-trade bill, Senate Republicans threatened to walk out over an education bill that was tied to PERS reform. Ultimately, Senate Democrats sacrificed two other bills to keep the Republicans in the room – a bill strengthening childhood vaccination requirements, and another bill aimed at gun safety.