House Republicans are currently slowing down the Oregon Legislature which is trying to rush passing more than 4,000 wide-ranging bills in a pandemic session. I felt it was important to explain the reasoning behind this while addressing some of the concerns that the media portrays as well as the concerns from my colleagues in the House Democrat caucus.
I believe we are all familiar now with the difference between the Constitutional requirement to “read the bills” in their entirety and the traditional “waiving” or “suspending the rule” on reading. What may not be known is the “why” behind the reading of the bills or the suspension of the rules.
While most bills will have bipartisan consensus like the budget, there are still about 10% of the proposals that are partisan, and I believe could make life far worse for Oregonians. This bipartisanship is something Oregonians can be proud of but unfortunately the media does not often report on this important fact. The media constantly reports on the 10% or so of the bills that are controversial. When one party is in a majority or even more a supermajority, those 10% can be very contentious. I am asked often by my colleagues from across the aisle why we won’t suspend the rules when what we are currently voting on is not controversial. It is precisely the 10% that creates the need for a way to “slow down the process”. The statement is often made “this is the will of Oregon voters, they put us in the majority”. That may be true, but let’s turn the tables for a moment…
What if Republicans were back in control of the House? I would assume the minority party would do everything in their power to stop what they would consider to be extreme, partisan legislation, including the reading of the bills and even the nuclear option: walk out, which they’ve used before.
This past year has been a tough one for Oregonians. They need a unified Legislature to provide them with immediate help on the most pressing issues they’re facing. That’s what Republicans are calling for, and that’s why we will use every legislative tool at our disposal to encourage this kind of bipartisan consensus on relief measures.
No legislator was elected to this position based on that 10% of the bills. No legislator, when campaigning, really proposed any of the 10% controversial bills. We each were elected because we were able to connect with the voters who chose us because we represented their values better than our opponents. I believe it was because of the 90% of legislation that passes out of this chamber. I would hope that, especially in a pandemic session, we all would keep our eye on the prize of helping to heal Oregon, not promote divisive legislation promoted by special interest groups that is not important to the vast majority of Oregonians who only believe and desire that we should all work together to help our state.
(Bill Post represents House District 25. He can be reached at 503-986- 1425 or via email at [email protected].)