Republicans Slow Legislature By Forcing Clerk To Read All Bills Aloud

For the second time this month, the Republican minority in Salem is trying to make its voice heard through delay and obstruction tactics. Republicans are requesting that all legislation be read out loud, and since May 1 the House Reading Clerk has read 85 bills, a total of 461 pages, aloud to the House floor.

The House Reading Clerk, Lacy Ramirez Gruss, was only hired in January, but seems to be taking the recent intensity and scrutiny on her in stride. She said it’s been “a learning experience and an honor” to serve in the Capitol.

Colorado Republicans attempted this same tactic of reading all legislation aloud earlier this year. Democrats responded by deploying a speed-reading computer program to “read aloud” the text quickly, but too quickly to understand. A court struck down the use of the computer on the basis that it could not be understood at such a high speed, and the delay tactics meant that Colorado Democrats were unable to finish their planned agenda by the end of their session earlier in May.

The Oregon legislature is already scheduling evening and weekend sessions in an effort to finish their business by the end of the legislative session in late June.

Republicans are engaged in this new delay without the same explanations to the press offered during the walkout. They do not yet have a clear ask by which Democrats could regain their cooperation, and instead seem emboldened by the success of walkout-style tactics.

Governor Kate Brown, who negotiated the Republican return from the walkout that cost Democrats gun control and public health bills, claimed that is Republicans continue delaying, House Speaker Tina Kotek “has tools available to her that aren’t very pleasant,” including killing Republicans’ “pet projects.”

By Ian MacRonald