Oregon Republican leaders who walked out to stall bills barred from re-election in 2024

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced that Republican leaders who orchestrated a six-week walkout from legislative sessions will not be permitted to run for re-election when their term ends in 2024. This decision upholds Measure 113, a law passed by Oregon voters in 2022, which states that lawmakers with more than 10 unexcused absences will be disqualified from seeking re-election.

Griffin-Valade, a Democrat, stated that Measure 113 was intended to disqualify legislators from running for re-election if they had multiple unexcused absences during a legislative session. She emphasized that her decision aligns with the understanding of the measure when it was added to the state constitution.

Under Measure 113, House or Senate leaders who fail to attend legislative sessions will be disqualified from running for re-election in the term following the completion of their current term. Some Republican lawmakers argue that the language in the measure allows them to contest the 2024 elections since their current terms conclude in January 2025. They claim that they are disqualified from running only after their next term expires.

Republican legislators have used the walkout tactic in the past, and they believe it is a valid parliamentary strategy to prevent the passage of certain proposals. Lawyers for State Sens. Tim Knopp and Brian Boquist, who participated in the walkout, argue that the measure disqualifies them from holding office in the term beginning in January 2029.

However, Griffin-Valade disagrees with this interpretation and maintains that absent legislators cannot serve an additional term after accumulating too many absences. Republican leaders have indicated that they will challenge the Secretary of State’s decision in court.

The walkout, which lasted for six weeks from May, was staged by nine Republican lawmakers and one independent. They protested against Democratic lawmakers on issues such as abortion, pro-transgender health, and stricter gun control in the state’s budget plan. It was the longest walkout in Oregon’s history.

Republican leaders in Oregon have used similar tactics in the past to boycott legislative sessions on issues like climate change and tax proposals. This recent walkout ranks as the second-largest in any state, following only Rhode Island.