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Your Input Needed - More State Legislature Bills and Redistricting Updates

Sunday, March 7, 2021 - 12:30

Hello POPPERS! Today's alert has three important issues: POP endorsement of a housing bill, statewide hearings on redistricting, and four bills to prevent more Republican walkouts. Please read on...

HB2006...
Please email debiferrer@gmail.com if you think POP should support.
The Housing Team (which Will White is on) has recommended support. HB2006 would allow expedited siting of homeless shelters across Oregon until June of 2022, as an emergency response to the pandemic. This means many zoning and public hearings requirements would be waived, allowing communities to set up shelter facilities much more quickly. The initial hearing on HB 2006 was held on February 23rd , and the bill received strong support from both Democratic and Republican members of the committee. House Speaker Tina Kotek is the lead sponsor, so we anticipate that the bill will move fairly quickly toward a vote in the House. You can read the team's worksheet here - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zjhuPRV8lqoYaLSHwufOz65BNCjscVe1/view?u... or check out the information on OLIS about it here -
https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/HB2006

REDISTRICTING...
We've just learned that there will be some statewide hearings on the Re-Districting process. For those of us in District 2, they will be Wednesday March 10 at 5:30 pm and Saturday March 20 at 1:00 pm. You can click here for details, links to submit testimony, and to join the hearings - https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting/. This should be very interesting as Oregon is expected to gain another Congressional seat and it will likely be very controversial as to how the districts get divided up. (Maybe we can get rid of Cliff Bentz!) Our state rep, Daniel Bonham is on this committee. We really need to stay informed and hold him accountable.

WALKOUT PREVENTION BILLS..
And, there are four bills now being considered that are designed to discourage, penalize and prevent legislators from staging more walkouts. As you know, Republicans have now walked out 6 times in a little over two years. These bills are currently in going through the process to get endorsed by COIN, but I wanted to give you a heads up about them now as there is a hearing coming up and opportunities to submit oral or written testimony. Please keep reading as this is perhaps among them most critical legislation. If these bills pass, the business of government can be conducted. If they don’t, Republicans are likely to continue their pattern of holding Oregonians hostage to their minority demands by walking out, leaving the Democrats without a quorum needed to conduct business. Please keep reading to learn more about how you can help.

Summaries and links to more information about each bill are below. Please take the time to look them over. A hearing is scheduled in the Senate Rules Committee for Thursday March 18th at 1:00pm. Click here for the official agenda for that meeting which has a link on the left hand side to join the meeting at the scheduled time - https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/SRULES/2021-03-... Let’s show up and let our legislators know this is important to us.
Below the summaries are some talking points that you can use in written and/or oral testimony. It’s very simple (and very important) to submit written testimony. You can submit a statement until 1pm on Friday March 19th. Click here - https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Testimony/SRULES and then select “3-18-2021 1:00 PM” for the date, and click on each bill that you want to submit testimony for. It can be as little as one sentence: “Please pass this bill so other bills can get passed!” Or it can be more detailed and more personal. You can also sign up to submit oral testimony during the actual hearing. To do that, click here – https://survey.sjc1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bQ3HEWHApuphllk
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THE BILLS

SB 261 Prohibits members of Legislative Assembly from soliciting or using contributions to pay fines or legal expenses, replace salary, defray expenses or otherwise compensate members for monetary losses incurred as result of unexcused absences from sessions of Legislative Assembly. Declares emergency, effective on passage. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SB261

SB 262 - Prohibits member of Legislative Assembly who is absent and unexcused when Legislative Assembly is in session from receiving salary, per diem or expense reimbursement, and imposes fine of $500 per day of unexcused absence. Prohibits political contributions from being used to pay fines or legal fees, replace salary or defray expenses. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SB262

SJR 3 - Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to provide that member of Legislative Assembly who, without permission or excuse, does not attend 10 or more scheduled legislative floor sessions of Legislative Assembly is deemed to be engaging in disorderly behavior and is disqualified from holding office as Senator or Representative for term following member's current term of office.https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SJR3

SJR 4 - Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to modify portion of each house of Legislative Assembly needed to be in attendance for quorum necessary for house to conduct business. Proposes comparable changes to quorum requirements when Legislative Assembly convenes following declaration of catastrophic disaster by Governor. Refers proposed amendment to people for their approval or rejection at next regular general election. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SJR4

TALKING POINTS

Republicans are exploiting an arcane provision in the Oregon Constitution that requires 2/3 of each house to be present for a quorum in order to conduct business. Oregon is one of only five states in the nation that require more than a simple majority for a quorum.

Democrats holds three-fifths supermajorities in both the House (37D – 23 R) and the Senate (18D – 12R) and they hold every state office. This is because Democrats represent a large majority of voters in the state. And yet the minority can complete thwart the will of the majority of voters in Oregon by walking out. This is extremely anti-democratic.

There is no precedent for what Oregon Republicans have done in the past three sessions. The anti-democratic walkout has been used six times in a little over two years, more than in the previous 162 years, since Oregon gained statehood.
Check out this article by VOX for details of the past five walkouts in 2019 and 2020 - https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/2/29/21157246/oregon-rep...

The sixth and most recent walkout by Oregon Senate Republicans occurred on February 25, 2021 (https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2021/02/oregon-senate-republicans-wa...) over their objections to the Governor’s Covid restrictions and the state vaccination priority placing teachers ahead of seniors. Further, these AWOL Republicans demanded that all Oregon schools re-open fully in person immediately, even though only 4% of students nationally live in counties where transmission is low enough for schools to re-open safely according to CDC guidelines (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/02/us/covid-schools-reopen-c...) How many more times will the minority party derail the work that the majority of Oregonians want from their government?

Walking out on the job is a gross dereliction of duty and an insult to Oregon voters.

Hundreds of bills died as a result of Republicans’ walkouts in 2019 and 2020, including bills to restore forest health, to fund homeless shelters, to increase transparency in government, to expand community mental health treatment, to trim tax breaks for wealthy investors, and many more (https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/03/20-bills-that-died-in-oregon...).

In the 2021 session, the basic needs of Oregonians are on the line due to the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires, and the economic fallout. We can’t continue to let Republicans hold us hostage over their partisan demands.

Republicans claim they are not doing anything different than Democrats have done in the past. While it is true that Democrats have walked, it has been far less frequent and for much more substantial reasons. In 2001, Democrats walked out in protest over Republican efforts to redraw district lines and by-pass the governor approval process required by Oregon’s Constitution. In other words, they walked out over Republican’s efforts to break the law in order to gerrymander district boundaries. In 1975, Democrats walked out over Republicans’ refusal to ratify the US Constitution granting 18-year-olds the right to vote. (https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2019/06/20/oregon-legislator...

Republicans also claim that Democrats in the legislature are leaving them out of committee meetings, meetings with the governor, and even preventing them from speaking on the floor. These claims are untrue. In fact, the 2020 version of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill (cap and trade) had many changes made to it over the 2019 version of the bill to accommodate Republicans, so many changes that many Democrats could barely support it anymore. And yet, Republicans still walked out over this version of the bill they so severely weakened, killing it and hundreds of other bills in the process.

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