PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Supreme Court will hear a case from five Republican lawmakers challenging the state’s voter-approved Measure 113, which bans lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from running for reelection, as first reported by the Salem Statesman Journal.
The lawsuit was filed by senators Tim Knopp, Daniel Bonham, Suzanne Weber, Dennis Linthicum, and Lynn Findley, who participated in a legislative walkout in May.
Some members who participated in the walkout and garnered unexcused absences have announced plans to run for reelection, including Tim Knopp, Dennis Linthicum, Art Robinson and Brian Boquist. However, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade issued a statement in August, saying that Measure 113 disqualifies lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from reelection in 2024.
The lawmakers argue that the wording of the measure bars them from running after the 2024 term.
The suit comes after the group of lawmakers staged Oregon’s longest walkout in state history in early May as the Senate was poised to vote on bills covering gun rights, abortion and transgender health care. Over the course of the six-week walkout, Republicans claimed they were protesting “unreadable” bills introduced by Democrats.
According to Measure 113, missing 10 days of session “shall disqualify the member from holding office as a senator or representative for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, John DiLorenzo — a lawyer representing the GOP lawmakers — said “we believe that regardless of what the voter’s pamphlet and news articles may have suggested, if a constitutional amendment is unambiguous on its face and its text is capable of but one interpretation, that meaning must control.”
He continued, “we are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the importance of issuing a definitive ruling on this matter in time for our clients to file their declarations of candidacy. Whether they should serve another term should be a matter for their constituents, not a declaration from the Secretary of State.”
Ahead of oral arguments starting Dec. 14, the Sec. of State’s office says Griffin-Valade and the elections division are “pleased” that the case is heading to the high court and look forward to the case being resolved in a timely manner.