2020 Legislative Session and Republican Walkout
To be frank the 2020 legislative session was deeply disappointing. Oregon’s Senate and House Republicans have abandoned their oaths of office and duties to serve Oregon by walking off the job. This marked the 4th time in over 10 months that the Republicans have used this tactic to deny the number of legislators constitutionally required to vote on bills. They have done this before and have expressed little intention of stopping. Its undemocratic that a minority party effectively holds veto power over any legislation they disagree with. A legislator’s job is to negotiate and vote on bills, and their choice to walk away demonstrates an unwillingness to do either.
We entered the 2020 Short Session with important, and often bipartisan bills that deserve consideration on both the House and Senate floors. I support House Speaker Kotek’s difficult choice to use our constitutional powers as a majority party to ensure that progress will be made, even without the cooperation of our Republican colleagues.
House Republicans are in clear violation of their one constitutional duty: to vote, on bills, on this floor. They are denying Oregonians their right to a functioning legislature by walking off the job and preventing votes on all the legislation ready for consideration on our floors.
The claim is that this is about Senate Bill 1530, the climate action bill is completely false. The first walkout in 2019 was over funding our schools, public health and sensible gun safety legislation. The second and third walkouts were over addressing our global climate emergency. Threats were even made against state police and the Senate President if they sought to compel Republicans’ attendance. This last walkout cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars and killed bills and budgets that are vital to Oregon. Even after many of the changes sought we made many of those changes in the months leading up to this session. Not all of them, true, but many major, substantive changes were made. People listened and compromised because we know that compromise is in the best interest of serving the people who elected us.
And still, House Republicans walked off the job. They left the state a full two weeks before our constitutional deadline to adjourn, after only three bills had passed both chambers this session, with hundreds of others that have won support through our public process being left in limbo.
I’ll admit, I saw that corrosion more clearly at the national level before I recognized it here at home.
After missing almost 2 weeks of work and creating an insurmountable backlog of good bills and good budgets, the Republican leaders wanted to come back with less than a day left so they can pick and choose what bills live and die. This would mean that after days of shirking their duties, they simply get to return and decide they can unilaterally kill all bills of their choosing.
Issues like climate change will not just go away and I promise that myself and my Democratic collogues will continue to bring back legislation to address these crucial issues.