PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s been a full week since Oregon Senate Republicans initiated their walkout, which Sen. Cedric Hayden said was prompted by Republicans’ desire for “a balanced process where the voices of all Oregonians are heard.”
This refusal to attend legislative sessions isn’t the first of its kind in Oregon. State lawmakers have used these tactics for decades to challenge policies that they don’t agree with.
In these previous incidents, it was the legislators in the minority who walked out to block action.
1971 – As reported by the Statesman Journal, Republican legislators were against the proposal to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18. Democrats in both the House and the Senate walked out in protest.
Senate Democrats were later found at a lawmaker’s residence in Salem, while the House Democrats were hiding in the Senate majority leader’s office. The walkout lasted for less than a day.
April 1995 – A group of Senate Democrats walked out after Republican lawmakers nixed an award named after Frank Roberts, a former Senate Democrat who died just two years earlier. According to the Statesman Journal, the 10 lawmakers who walked out were found in a Salem restaurant.
June 2001 – House Republicans wanted to implement a redistricting plan as a resolution, instead of a bill — which ultimately would have been subject to a veto by the former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber. As a result, 25 House Democrats walked out of consecutive legislative sessions for five consecutive days.
KOIN 6 News previously reported that the GOP sent process servers to summon the Democratic representatives back to the Capitol, but they hid.
March 2007 – Senate Republicans walked out of a session because of a tax deal, but former Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski called on Oregon State Police to bring two of them from Corvallis. The two Republican lawmakers returned voluntarily for a vote.
May 2019 – A group of Senate Republicans launched a four-day walkout in protest of House Bill 3427, which allocated billions of dollars toward education, according to the Statesman Journal. The bill was signed into law later that month.
June 2019 – Republican members of the Oregon Senate walked out to oppose House Bill 2020, a climate-focused measure that aimed to place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Former Democratic Gov. Kate Brown asked OSP to summon the missing Senate members, who fled to Idaho and Montana.
Senate Republicans returned nine days after the walkout began, and after HB 2020 was killed due to a lack of votes.
February 2020 – Senate Bill 1530, another cap-and-trade measure comparable to HB 2020, was at the center of the Senate-and-House-Republican walkout during the 2020 legislative session. On Feb. 24, 11 GOP members walked out after the measure passed through the Joint Ways and Means Committee.
Republican lawmakers returned before the legislative session officially ended in early March, but according to the Portland Tribune, ‘hundreds of bills died’ along the walkout.
February to March 2021 – In protest of then-Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement extending the COVID-19 emergency, all Oregon Senate Republicans walked out of the floor session scheduled for Feb. 25. The walkout lasted until March 2.
September 2021 – GOP leaders in the Oregon House of Representatives boycotted a single session to challenge Senate Bill 881, a congressional redistricting plan that they considered as gerrymandering. The measure was still signed into law on Sept. 27.
On Wednesday morning, Senate Democratic leaders have a meeting scheduled with Republican leaders, in hopes that their current stalemate will come to an end.