PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Senate floor sessions returned Thursday after a Republican-led walkout stalled dozens of bills and left at least nine Republican and one Independent senator ineligible for re-election under the voter-approved Measure 113.
As part of the deal for Republicans to return to the Senate floor, the parties agreed to vote on HB 2002 after it is updated to affirm standard abortion care practice set under Roe v. Wade, according to a joint press release from the Senate and House majority offices.
Lawmakers say they will also consider HB 2005, which would ban untraceable ghost guns and House Joint Resolution 16, which would amend the state’s Constitution to allow the legislature to hold elected officials accountable through impeachment. Additionally, lawmakers will consider HB 2757 to fund the 988 national suicide prevention hotline.
Democrats say the agreement includes a commitment from Republicans to ensure quorum for the duration of the 2023 legislative session.
In a press release, Republicans attributed their return after “countless hours of good-faith negotiations and true bipartisanship after weeks of nothing but the contrary.”
“Senate Republicans and Independents stood firm as the last line of defense for parental rights and the rule of law. I am incredibly proud of their steadfast determination to give their constituents a long-overdue seat at the table. We have said from the very beginning that we cannot allow the Senate to operate in an unlawful, uncompromising, and unconstitutional manner,” Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said.
He added, “we repeatedly urged Democrat leaders to put the critical needs of all Oregonians first instead of prioritizing an extreme agenda that does nothing but divide us. I am pleased to say that we were able to hold the Democrat Majority accountable and accomplish all these things. We achieved constitutional, lawful bipartisanship. And parental rights were restored.”
Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) echoed Knopp’s call for the views of all Oregonians to be represented along with calls to challenge voter-approved Measure 113 which would make lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences ineligible from re-election in the next term.
“Though Democrats hold a slim majority, it is critically important that the voices of all Oregonians are heard in this process. We knew the risk we were taking, but we feel our challenge to Measure 113’s constitutionality is strong. Some of our colleagues may disagree, but that is a battle for another day. Today, we are happy to deliver this win for Oregonians,” Findley said.
In a press release, Democrats said the Senate can now move forward on legislation including bills addressing homelessness, wildfire relief, health care and reproductive rights.
“Today’s agreement is a win for the people of Oregon. Democrats did our jobs and kept our promises to Oregonians. We protected our shared Oregon priorities and values, including defending the rights we had under Roe v. Wade, rescuing urgent, bipartisan priorities, and sustaining the overwhelmingly voter-approved consequences for walkouts. Now, we’re going to finish the work,” said Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton & SW Portland).
House Majority Leader Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene & Veneta) added, “Democrats are delivering major victories for Oregonians this session. We’re making record investments in our schools, including prioritizing effective reading instruction for our youngest readers. We’re building more affordable housing and addressing our homelessness crisis. We’re expanding access to mental health care and addiction treatment. We’re acting to reduce gun violence and improve community safety. And we’re going to protect access to abortion and expand access to health care for LGBTQ+ communities.”
The walkout, which started in early May, began after Republicans claimed Democratic bills were “unreadable” and left as the Senate was set to vote on bills addressing abortion rights, gun control and gender-affirming care.
This is a developing story.