Senate walkout continues for eighth day after legislative leaders meet
Oregon senators prepare for their floor session on May 9, 2023. The Senate failed to obtain the two-thirds quorum needed to vote on bills on Wednesday, the eighth day of the GOP-led walkout. (Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
Six Republican and Democratic legislative leaders met Wednesday to talk about the GOP-led Senate walkout, which continued for an eighth day after they talked.
“All six leaders agreed: We met, we had a conversation, we are planning on additional conversations,” legislative leaders said in a joint statement without elaborating.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, were at the meeting, which marked the first time the two have talked in about five weeks.
House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis; Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, D-Beaverton; House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, D-Eugene; and House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, also participated in the meeting. We
Spokespeople declined to say when they may meet next.
The walkout is preventing the Senate from having the two-thirds quorum needed to vote on bills, and it is jeopardizing legislation on a variety of issues that include housing, behavioral health, and budget bills for schools, prisons and other state needs.
Republican senators have said they walked out because bill summaries fail to comply with a state readability requirement that they be written at a middle-school level. Knopp also told the Capital Chronicle they want 20 “hyperpartisan” bills set aside, including proposals on abortion, guns and transgender health care.
On Tuesday, Lieber said Democratic leaders want to hear what Republicans wish to accomplish for their districts but are uninterested in a “kill list” of Democrat-sponsored bills that need to die.
The Senate needs 20 of its 30 members present to do business. On Wednesday, there were 18 members present and 12 absences. Ten of them were unexcused. Four senators – Republican Daniel Bonham of The Dalles, Cedric Hayden of Fall Creek, Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls and Independent Brian Boquist of Dallas – have eight unexcused absences.
In 2022, voters passed a constitutional amendment that prevents legislators from running for reelection if they have 10 or more unexcused absences.
The Senate will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, and the Legislature must adjourn the session by June 25.
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