Special Session called off

By Senate President Peter Courtney,

SALEM — Senate President Peter Courtney was notified by the Secretary of the Senate at 5 p.m. today that the request to convene a special session of the Oregon Legislature has failed to receive a majority of affirmative votes in the Senate. Courtney said he was pleased that a majority of Senators chose not to vote in favor of an immediate special session. The Senate President has maintained that Oregon leaders should deal with the state’s latest budget crisis in a thoughtful and measured way rather than rushing to call the Legislature back into special session immediately.“I’m grateful to members of the Senate from both parties for showing restraint in this balloting process. I think the fact that a majority of the members of the Senate chose not to return their ballots says that we’re leaving our options open. Also, it says we want to avoid a Democrat-Republican divide,” Courtney said. Courtney said he will remain engaged in the effort to manage the $577 million shortfall in the state budget. Governor Kulongoski on Wednesday released plans from general fund state agencies outlining how to manage 9 percent budget reductions in order to bring the budget into balance for the remainder of the biennium.

“In the coming days we will be analyzing the agency cut lists. We will continue meeting with the Governor and key agency directors and urging Congress to pass proposed funding solutions for education and human services,” Courtney said. “We will keep searching for a path that best protects critical services that Oregonians depend on every day as our state continues its economic recovery.”

On May 26th, a group of Senators and one member of the House of Representatives notified Legislative Administrator Scott Burgess of their intent to seek a special session of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. By law, Burgess issued ballots to all 90 members of the Legislature and informed them that they had until 5 p.m. June 9 to return their ballots to either the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Clerk of the House.

Convening a special session by legislative ballot requires 16 affirmative votes in the Senate and 31 affirmative votes in the House. Secretary of the Senate Judy Hall reported today only 8 “yes” votes were received in the Senate. Chief Clerk of the House Ramona Kenady notified House Speaker Dave Hunt that only 17 “yes” votes were received in the House.