Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from the Midwest to Idaho for his first journalism job. Botkin has won multiple awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.

Democrats warn of lost opportunities as GOP-led Senate walkout persists

By: - June 6, 2023

Oregonians have much to lose if the legislative session ends by June 25 without a functioning Senate that can vote on bills, Democrats warned Tuesday. The GOP-led Senate walkout is preventing votes on bills intended to benefit average Oregonians from urban Portland to rural eastern Oregon. Examples run the gamut: Bills held up by the […]

Fines not deterring absent Republican senators as walkout persists

By: - June 5, 2023

So far, $325 daily fines are not swaying Republican senators to return to floor sessions and end their walkout.  Last Thursday, Senate Democrats agreed to the fines, starting Monday, to compel senators to return. But that plan appears to have failed: On Monday, the Republican-led boycott continued, preventing the chamber from doing business.  Nineteen senators […]

Federal trial on Oregon gun control Measure 114 begins Monday

By: - June 5, 2023

A federal judge will start hearing arguments  Monday in a lawsuit that may determine the fate of a voter-passed law to regulate how Oregonians own firearms and ban ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. In November, Oregon voters passed Measure 114, which is intended to help stem the scourge of gun violence and mass […]

Oregon senators joining walkout will face fines for future unexcused absences 

By: - June 1, 2023

Oregon senators participating in the GOP-led walkout will need to decide Monday whether to return to floor sessions or face daily $325 fines. The walkout has denied the Senate a quorum since May 3, halting votes on bills addressing housing, drug addiction, public education and other issues. On Thursday, Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, […]

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Rosenblum sues 3M, DuPont, others over environmental contamination

By: - May 31, 2023

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Wednesday sued 21 organizations – including multinational companies DuPont and 3M – alleging their foam-based chemical products have been responsible for public health and environmental contamination in the state. The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges the companies were involved in the manufacture of the chemicals used […]

Public safety bills, budgets await action amid Republican Senate walkout 

By: - May 31, 2023

Oregon lawmakers have worked to advance bills that would help people fight opioid overdoses, provide more public defenders to impoverished criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney and give more compensation and help to crime victims. Now those proposals – and other parts of the Legislature’s public safety agenda – face a roadblock: the GOP-led […]

Paychecks, perks continue for absent senators amid GOP-led walkout 

By: - May 30, 2023

Oregon taxpayers have spent tens of thousands of dollars paying senators who are participating in the GOP-led Senate walkout. And their salaries and per diem are just part of the cost of the stalled session. Since May 3, most Republican senators and an Independent senator have boycotted Senate floor sessions, denying the upper chamber its […]

After session ends, Oregon senators will face a new battle – in the courts

By: - May 25, 2023

The GOP-led Senate walkout is the first round of a fight that likely will continue in court when the session concludes by June 25. The political futures of senators who have racked up 10 or more unexcused absences is on the line: They’re disqualified from serving another term of office under a constitutional amendment approved […]

Nearly 2 dozen Oregonians died in police use of force incidents in 2022

By: - May 24, 2023

Oregon police officers killed 23 people in the line of duty in 2022, according to the state’s first use-of-force report. Lawmakers discussed a summary of the report, which is not yet released, on Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The report, compiled by Oregon’s Criminal Justice Commission, doesn’t discuss whether the police use of force […]

Department of Administrative Services building in Salem.

Oregon’s new payroll system working out glitches

By: - May 24, 2023

Oregon state officials say the new payroll system that serves about 45,000 state employees is improving – after it caused widespread consternation as workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. The Department of Administrative Services, which oversees state payroll, did not identify any systemic problems with the system during its May 1 payroll, […]

Senate Republicans willing to return the last day of session as walkout persists

By: - May 23, 2023

Oregon Senate Republicans on Tuesday declared they’re willing to return to the floor to pass bipartisan legislation and budget bills on June 25, the final day of the session. Senators continued to participate in the GOP-led walkout on Tuesday, boycotting the floor session for the 15th day and preventing the Senate from reaching the two-thirds […]

Gov. Kotek calls Senate Republicans ‘disrespectful’ after closed-door meetings

By: - May 22, 2023

Gov. Tina Kotek spent about two hours listening to Republican and Democratic senators in separate closed-door meetings in the Capitol building on Monday as the GOP-led walkout that started May 3 continued to stall the Senate. Kotek entered the Senate majority office to visit with Democrats at noon, on the heels of a meeting she […]