Oregonians suffered last legislative session when hundreds of essential bills languished during the Republican Senator 42-day walkout. As a result, Oregon’s recently appointed Secretary of State, LaVonne Griffen-Valade, told reporters she had directed her office to establish an administrative rule to enforce Measure 113. Her office will prevent the violators from seeking reelection in a subsequent term.
Griffen-Valade said: “It is clear voters intended for Measure 113 to disqualify legislators from running for reelection if they had 10 or more unexcused absences in a legislative session. My decision honors the voters’ intent by enforcing the measure the way it was commonly understood when Oregonians added it to our state constitution.”
Voters passed Measure 113 in 2022 to end minority party walkouts that have plagued the Legislature for years. As a result, lawmakers with at least 10 unexcused absences violate the law rendering them ineligible to seek reelection.
These Republican lawmakers did not lose their salaries during the walkout.
Most of the Republican senators and one Independent joined the walkout over controversial bills earlier this year. Not only did they risk Oregonian’s lives by refusing to uphold their sworn duties, but they lost their chance for reelection.
According to the Oregon Capitol Chronicle, “Ten accumulated at least 10 absences: Sens. Tim Knopp (R-Dist. 12), Lynn Findley (R-Dist. 30), Bill Hansell (R- Dist. 29), Kim Thatcher (R-Dist. 11), Art Robinson (R-Dist. 2), Suzanne Weber (R-Dist. 16), Daniel Bonham (R-Dist. 26), Cedric Hayden (R-Dist. 6), Dennis Linthicum (R-Dist. 28), and Brian Boquist (I- Dist. 12).”
The protest ended when Senate Democrats agreed to water down gender-affirming care and guns. Democrats also agreed to give voters the choice to allow the Legislature to impeach statewide elected officials. Currently, lawmakers in 49 states and Congress can impeach elected officials — Oregon is the only outlier.
Moreover, the Oregon legislature passively encourages walkout temper tantrums to happen. Since the state requires a two-thirds quorum present at sessions to pass bills making walkouts an easy solution rather than discussing and voting on controversial bills. It is also high time for Oregon to allow a simple majority present to enable legislators to do their jobs.
Republicans Vow to Sue for Reelection Rights
Republicans have walked out of the Capitol every year since 2019, which is why voters passed Measure 113. Based on the overwhelming results, voters told legislators to end the yearly shenanigans in Salem. Nonetheless, Republicans violated the state Constitution. They made themselves ineligible for reelection.
Senate Minority Leader Knopp responded to Griffen-Valade’s announcement with a vow to sue over the state’s decision to exclude most of the current Republican senators from filing to seek reelection. His statement was unsurprising since he and several other GOP members voiced the same sentiments during their month-and-a-half paid walkout.
According to a March 2023 Oregon Capitol Chronicle report, Senator Hansell plans to retire in 2024 after more than 40 years in office. He said he would finish his term — Oregon state legislators will return to Salem in February 2024.
Unfortunately, these politicians are expected to return to Salem for the next session when they usually campaign for reelection. If their cases are tied up in court, and no eligible person files their intent to seek election to represent their district, chaos surrounding the primary election will likely ensue.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
KDRV 12: Senators breaking Measure 113 rules ineligible for 2024 reelection’ by Liv Collom
Oregon Capital Chronicle: Secretary of state will disqualify legislators with 10 unexcused absences from running in 2024; By Lynne Terry
Oregon Capitol Chronicle: Longtime eastern Oregon Sen. Bill Hansell plans to retire in 2024; By Julia Shumway
Jefferson Public Radio: Impeachment, elected official pay, ranked-choice voting: Oregon lawmakers left big questions to voters; By Julia Shumway
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of the Oregon Secretary of State – Public Domain License
Inset Image by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis for the Oregon Military Department Courtesy of Oregon National Guard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License