Oregon’s Longest Legislative Walkout Continues Over Controversial Bills
Six weeks ago today, Senate Republicans in Oregon began what has since become the state’s longest legislative walkout.
For reference: while a walkout can involve physically walking out of the chamber, it can also describe when a group of legislators is absent from floor votes in order to prevent the chamber from taking any action, more on that below.
Republican leaders said the walkout was a protest over the wording of bill summaries. Democratic leaders said it was to prevent a vote on bills regarding parental consent for abortion, firearms, and social, psychological, and medical treatments for transgender adults and minors.
At 42 days, the current walkout has lasted around four and a half weeks longer than the state’s previous record of nine days set in 2021.
The chamber’s regular session ends on June 25.
This is the first walkout since Oregon voters approved Measure 113 in 2022, which disqualifies legislators from re-election following the end of their current term if they are absent from 10 floor sessions without permission or excuse.
So far, 10 senators have met that threshold, though Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R) has said to expect legal challenges to Measure 113.
State legislative walkouts are not unique to Oregon. Still, they are more common there than in other states based on how the state defines a quorum, the minimum number of members who must be present in order to conduct official business.
Almost every state defines a quorum as being at least half of all members, meaning the majority party often has a quorum by itself.
But in Oregon, a quorum is at least two-thirds of all members, equaling 20 in the Senate. Democrats hold a 17-12-1 majority in the chamber, meaning at least three non-Democrats must be present to conduct business.
Since 2000, four states have had at least one noteworthy state legislative walkout, shown below:
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Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld