PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Safety concerns” were cited as the decision was made to delay the official beginning of the Oregon Senate’s 2021 floor session for two days next week.
The 6-month legislative session is slated to begin Tuesday. The Senate floor session has been pushed back to Thursday — Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Senate President Peter Courtney’s Communications Director Johnmartin Sherman-Lewis said: “Out of an abundance of caution regarding building security, no committees will meet on Tuesday, January 19th or Wednesday, January 20th. Committee work will likely resume on Thursday, January 21st.”
The change was confirmed by Rep. Marty Wilde, but he said he was not aware exactly what those safety concerns are.
“We cannot allow terroristic threats to stop the people’s business,” Wilde, a Democrat representing Central Lane and Linn counties. “My brothers and sisters in the National Guard are protecting the State Capitol. We should honor their courage by serving as we have sworn to do. If we have specific knowledge of a particular threat that makes that unsafe, we should not endanger their lives while protecting our own.”
As the members of the Oregon House and Senate were sworn in Monday to begin the 2021 session, security was visibly increased following the insurrection at the US Capitol and earlier protests at the state Capitol.
The Oregon State Capitol is still closed to the public during the pandemic. But right-wing protesters, angry about the COVID shutdown, walked in through a door opened by Republican Rep. Mike Nearman.
Earlier Wednesday, the Oregon National Guard was activated to help with possible civil unrest following the insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the US Capitol last week.
Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie said OSP is preparing will take a “neutral role.” Protests are expected ahead of the inauguration but no specifics are being released.
Reports have surfaced similar groups are planning more demonstrations in all 50 states. That’s one reason the National Guard will be ready to go if needed.
“The recent events at our Nation’s Capitol building and at our own statehouse illustrate the need for law enforcement to be prepared and appropriately staffed for any large gatherings,” Davie added.
The FBI cautioned states could start seeing aggressive protests as early as January 17 — Sunday.