By Oregon State Representative Ed Diehl,
The Oregon Senate held it’s first floor session in 6 weeks. This is the longest denial of quorum in the history of the Oregon legislature. Over the last week the Senate Democrats and Republicans, along with leadership from the House, held intense negotiations to reach a compromise. Like any compromise both parties got something and gave up something. Here’s my take on the deal, and how we move forward.
Historically speaking, this walkout probably netted more concessions from the majority party than any other. The Democrats agreed to kill Senate Bill 348 and several other gun bills designed to implement Ballot Measure 114, however I don’t think these were going anywhere in the first place since the implementation of BM114 is held up in the courts. The real gun bill in question was HB2005. The Democrats removed the age limits on purchasing most types of guns (they wanted to increase the age limit from 18 to 21) and removed the ability for local jurisdictions to set their own gun restrictions. HB2005 has been narrowed to focus solely on making unserialized weapons (ghost guns) illegal – more on that in The Bad. This guts much of what was originally on the Democrats’ anti-2nd Amendment agenda.
The deal also killed Senate Joint Resolution 33, at least for now. SJR33 would have created a ballot measure to enshrine “gender identity”, among other things, as a protected class in our state constitution. This bill contained one element both sides can probably agree on, which is removing the ban on gay marriage from our constitution. The Feds have already weighed in on this, it is the law of the land, and this obsolete piece of our constitution can be removed. But this element of the bill was provided as cover for the rest of the bill which included wildly unpopular positions such as gender identity.
The deal also forced considerable concessions on House Bill 2002, the abortion and gender-affirming sanctuary bill. The Senate Democrats conceded to remove all the abortion expansion pieces of the legislation which would have expanded abortion access on university campuses and rural areas. And it now requires parental consent for a girl under 15 to get an abortion, unless 2 doctors agree that it is not in the best interests of the girl. While on paper this sounds like it reinstated parental rights, I don’t think it will be too difficult to find two doctors in Oregon that believe parents should not be notified if they intend on talking the girl out of an abortion.
Together, these are good (not great) concessions that would not have happened if the Senate Republicans had not risked their careers and walked out.
And now that the Senate is back in business, there are a couple of bills that, if passed by the Senate, will specifically help House District 17. House Bill 3260 will allow 24/7 self-serve fuel at the Rivers Run gas station in Detroit. House Bill 2405 would require defendants being released early from Oregon State Hospital, before they are ready to aid and assist in their own defense, to be sent to their county of jurisdiction instead of being released into Marion County. Both of these bills had strong bipartisan support and I hope will pass the Senate. We also have several capital construction requests that would help our district towns with much-needed infrastructure.
The compromise version of HB2005 makes unserialized guns (ghost guns) illegal. Anyone owning an unserialized gun has until September 1, 2024 to get a serial number from a licensed firearms dealer. I’m not a fan at all, and this won’t do ANYTHING to reduce gun crime in this state. Does anyone believe that a criminal will change his behavior because a gun is illegal? Studies and common sense confirm this. What this bill does do, however, is make hundreds (thousands) of law-abiding citizens in my district criminals on September 2, 2024 if they choose not to serialize their guns. This ban may very well be unconstitutional.
Also, by coming back and providing quorum, the legislature will now get back to business passing everything else that was on the Democrats’ agenda, including several terrible bills that were not part of the deal. House Bill 3409, an omnibus climate package, is a grab-bag of a dozen or so other bills, several of which were never fully vetted and given a public hearing. It is never good to bypass the legislative process, especially when the legislation impacts every Oregonians’ pocketbook.
Another bad bill, House Bill 2128B sets a terrible precedent by taking money from private businesses without due process. In this case, it is smaller tobacco companies that were never found culpable of harming the state in a court of law, and are not part of the tobacco master settlement agreement from the late ‘90s. Regardless of what you think about the tobacco companies, if the state can take their money without due process, what business is next?
House Bill 2665B would reduce the wages for nurses that work through temporary staffing agencies – not a good idea in a time when we have a nurse staffing shortage, and our surrounding states do not have these wage caps. And a bit ironic since at the same time, the Democrats have introduced a bill, SJR34, that would INCREASE pay for legislators and other public officials!
And many good bills that would make a real dent in our homeless and drug use problems, increase public safety, and increase school safety, will never get a hearing. They are dead because they do not fit the Democrat agenda. It is like the Democrats want all of Oregon to be like Portland.
I could go on about any number of other bad bills that will now get passed through with a highly partisan vote. Unfortunately, this compromise deal didn’t try to seek bipartisan, common ground.
There is one piece of this deal that is especially concerning to me and should be concerning to all Oregonians. As discussed above, the newly amended House Bill 2002C guts the abortion expansion language. However, it keeps a number of things that I find reprehensible:
1. Private Insurance companies, as well as the Oregon Health Plan, are mandated to provide “Gender-Affirming” treatments, which include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries such as double mastectomies, vaginoplasties, and the like. It also expands “Gender-Affirming” treatments to include cosmetic treatments such as facial feminization surgery and hair electrolysis. Adolescents as young as 15 are allowed to receive these treatments without parental consent, since 15 is the age of medical consent in Oregon. Yes, insurers are mandated to provide “gender-affirming” double mastectomies to 15 year-olds, without parental consent or knowledge, if a doctor deems it ‘medically necessary’;
2. Insurance companies must assure that their network include “gender-affirming” providers across the state;
3. Doctors, therapists, and social workers are protected from losing malpractice insurance or their license for performing abortions or “gender-affirming” treatments. This extends to protecting doctors from other states who have violated the abortion or “gender-affirming” laws of that state. Note that these protections only go one way; the bill does NOT protect doctors, therapists, and social workers that refuse to provide gender-affirming treatments. They are not protected from employer action, including disciplinary action or dismissal. Doctors are also not protected from losing insurance or their license if they refuse to provide gender-affirming treatments.
4. Protections for abortion facilities are increased, including increased fines for trespassing and harassment (protesting is still allowed).
With these sections still intact, House Bill 2002C sets up Oregon to be an abortion and “gender-affirming” sanctuary state. The Democrats were unwilling to budge on the gender issues and doctor protections.
This is all the more concerning because we have a growing amount of evidence that early intervention with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones is NOT reversible and has damaging, sometimes permanent, side effects. We have children and young adults who are detransitioning and expressing deep regret for the harm that the medical professionals inflicted on them. We also see an increasing number of countries doing a systematic review of the evidence and concluding that transgender medical treatments for minors may not help at all and may actually cause harm. They are moving these treatments back into the lab, considering them experimental. Recent testimony from Dr. Miriam Grossman highlights much of this.
And here is a great article by a member of the Endocrine Society. The rest of the world is waking up to the fact we went down this transgender path with very little evidence, and the evidence we do have overwhelmingly shows we are doing harm.
Leor Sapir articulately spells out the case against HB2002 in this article.
“Oregon Democrats have turned their backs on the victims of gender medicine because, politically speaking, they have no choice. Recognizing detransition as an urgent area of gender health care and insurance coverage weakens the claim that “gender-affirming care” is safe and evidence-based. It contradicts the narrative that “trans kids know who they are.” It undermines gender-affirming clinicians’ faith—a word I use advisedly—that they have reliable tools to distinguish “true trans” kids from kids who are merely going through a phase or who are alienation from their own bodies on account of deeper, unresolved issues like history of sexual trauma.
Faced with Diehl’s accusation of hypocrisy, Nosse did what most politicians would do: he tried to cut the discussion short. But Diehl was adamant. “You are uninformed,” he told his colleague. “And you’re going to live to regret these decisions that have been made.”
from Oregon’s Reckless Medicine, City Journal, by Leor Sapir
The doctors, institutions and drug companies that provide these treatments are very influential and have large lobbies and money. Planned Parenthood is one of them, and they are the 2nd largest provider of cross-sex hormones in the country – this is BIG money for them. Sadly, the kids and parents being harmed by these policies do not have a lobby.
Americans strongly oppose these “gender-affirming” treatments on minors. Oregon should not be expanding access to gender affirming care, we should be limiting it!
I have been very outspoken on this issue, and I have been exposing some of the harm that the Oregon gender treatment establishment has inflicted on our youth. I will continue that fight regardless of House Bill 2002C, and I am confident that the truth will prevail.
What This All Means
The Senate Republican walkout did achieve some concessions from the Democrats, eliminating some of their partisan agenda and weakening other parts. But I really can’t call this a win. Most of the agenda that tears at the heart of parental rights, eliminates reasonable protections for children and young adults, and promotes anti-business policies, remains.
I have spoken before about walkouts (see my last newsletter.) Walkouts (denying quorum) have an essential place in the democratic process and they serve a specific purpose – to prevent a ‘tyranny of the majority’. The minority party can only deny quorum if there are enough minority legislators (in Oregon a quorum is 2/3 of the members); losing a few seats means the minority can’t even deny a quorum! You can’t walk out forever, and voters overwhelmingly, in almost every county, oppose walkouts. This is based on the 68% voter support of last year’s Ballot Measure 113 which set a 10-day unexcused absence limit for legislators before they are disqualified from running again. Whether you think this ballot measure is constitutional or not, good idea or bad idea, the voters spoke and told us they don’t like us walking out. I believe what the voters said with BM113 is they want to see bipartisanship, to seek common ground, and get rid of the partisan bickering.
The only way to put the brakes on this ‘Make All of Oregon Like Portland’ agenda is to elect more conservatives to the legislature. That’s it. And the only way to do that is to get out the vote. Republicans lost the House by about 4,500 votes, and the Senate by 3,000.
With just a few thousand votes, we could have a balanced legislature, forced to find common ground and eliminate the partisan progressive agenda. And with a few thousand more, a conservative leaning legislature could make real inroads to protect parental rights, protect our kids, create pro-business policies, protect and improve our schools, and reduce the homelessness and drug addiction that is plaguing our communities. All in a balanced way that seeks to find common ground. That’s the difference a few thousand votes can make.
I applaud the Senate Republicans for taking a stand and getting concessions on deeply divisive, highly partisan bills. As it stands, many of them will not be able to run again as a result. But I am deeply disappointed that we did not get further concessions on House Bill 2002; I expected this bill to be completely killed.
And take note, the fight is not over! I am in this for the long run, to protect the rights of parents, protect our vulnerable kids, protect our constitutional rights, and take Oregon back!