Ballot measure petition bans walk-out protests

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

A group funded by Democrats and labor organizations wants Oregon voters to end walkouts by Republican legislators who have left the state over various controversial bills such as a statewide carbon tax and the $1.3 billion dollar Corporate Activities Tax.  Walkouts have previously been used by Governor Brown when she was a Senator.

The organization No More Costly Walkouts has floated 10 measures to curtail the minority parties’ ability to conduct walkouts, which have occurred in both 2019 and 2020. Currently, the Oregon House consists of 37 Democrats and 23 Republicans, while the Senate has 18 Democrats, 11 Republicans, and one Independent. The organization also complained that Republicans slowed the legislative process by requiring that bills be read in full before passage.

Signatures will be gathered to place measures before voters in November 2022. All 10 contain similar themes: fining lawmakers $500 and removing their pay for unexcused absences and ensuring they don’t use political donations to make up for the losses; make certain the days without a two-thirds quorum don’t count in constitution time limits for sessions; changing the two-thirds requirement to a simple majority if a quorum can’t be achieved for five days; prohibiting re-election runs of legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences; and allowing a simple majority to waive reading the entire bills before a final vote.

Reed Scott-Schwalbach, vice president of the Oregon Education Association, said polling indicates a majority of

Supporters of No More Costly Walkouts are the Oregon Education Association, public employee unions, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Action PAC, and Gov. Kate Brown.

No More Costly Walkouts has stopped short of suggesting elimination of the two-thirds quorum.