No More Costly Walkouts

Ally Update from Jacob Menefee

The No More Costly Walkouts (NMCW) coalition includes groups like: The Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Basic Rights Oregon, SEIU, Planned Parenthood Action PAC, and many others. I am reaching out to members of the Multnomah County Democratic Party with updates on our efforts to restore democracy and enact progressive change in Oregon.

You have likely heard that recently the Oregon Senate Republicans walked out for one day. They continued to show up to Committees and arrived for floor sessions in later weeks. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Senate is currently holding in-person floor sessions only once a week on Thursdays, so Senate Republicans can delay Legislative activity for an entire week while only refusing to appear once for one afternoon.

More recently this past Thursday a rule in the State Senate was up for a vote which would have made the Senate’s rules on fines for walkouts match the State House’s rules (Page 3, 3.03 Section (4)). The Senate Republicans hadn’t arrived one full hour after the floor session was set to begin, and the rule change was withdrawn from consideration. Competing press releases were then sent.

The press have harshly questioned these actions, with The Oregonian (article behind paywall) saying that this “…has become an increasingly common tactic by the party that holds a minority of seats in both chambers of the Legislature” and that “…their walkout so early in the session and without substantive matters up for floor votes raises questions about how much the Legislature will be able to achieve in its COVID- and wildfire-relief focused session.”

A number of bills have been filed which would address these ongoing walkouts in different ways. These bills are scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee at 1pm on Thursday March 18th.

This hearing will not be a very long one, so we do not recommend trying to testify on the 18th, but it is critically important that the Committee receive written testimony in favor of these bills. We will follow up with details in the coming days about how folks can do so.

Please feel free to spread the word and send this email to anyone in your activist networks who would be interested! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, email or text anytime.

Jacob Menefee (He/Him/His)