You have probably heard by now about the Oregon Senate Republicans’ big year-end field trip to deny Democrats a vote on a bill that would place new carbon emissions limits on businesses. But while House Bill 2020 is the reason 11 state senators are dodging the Capitol—and reportedly, the state—it isn’t the only bill delayed by their absence.
As the Oregonian reported on Saturday, the missing Republicans are keeping more than 100 different bills from passing a Senate vote. If the missing senators continue to deny the Senate a full quorum until June 30, the scheduled end of this legislative session, there’s a chance those bills won’t get a vote in 2019.
Just yesterday, the Senate will miss a total of 25 scheduled third readings (the point at which a bill or amendment is usually voted on), including a slew of necessary budget allocations for the Bureau of Labor and Industry, the Oregon Judicial Department, and other agencies. Here are a few other pieces of legislation that won’t get a vote:
Senate Bill 155 would broaden state requirements for following up on reported sexual abuse in K-12 schools. It would do so by updating existing Oregon law regarding abusive teachers to also include abusive school contractors and volunteers; and would prohibit school district employees from helping coworkers find a new job if they have reason to believe the coworker is guilty of sexual misconduct with a student. SB 155 had its second reading on June 19—the Senate’s last functional workday—and has been waiting for a vote ever since.
Senate Bill 24 would ease overcrowding at Oregon’s mental health hospital. Currently, judges are able to send any defendant deemed not mentally fit for trial to the Oregon State Hospital (OSH)—but crowding problems have worsened conditions at OSH, in some cases delaying patient intake for up to a week. SB 24 would require judges to consider whether a defendant could be diverted to a community mental health program, rather than being sent directly to OSH. A version of this bill has already passed the House and Senate, but a new, finalized version still needs Senate approval—which won’t come until Republicans return to the Capitol.
House Bill 2716 takes on campaign finance reform. Specifically, the bill would require that any time a political group puts out a TV ad, mailer, or other piece of campaign literature, it must clearly state the names of the people who paid for it. This bill wouldn’t take effect until after Oregonians vote on a broader campaign finance reform measure in 2020, but its passage is a necessary step to becoming law. HB 2716 passed the House earlier this month, and has been pending a Senate vote ever since.
Other bills scheduled for a Senate vote on Monday range from ceremoniously important resolutions to niche but substantial law changes. And those are just the ones ready for a vote—there are also scores of bills still waiting for a first or second reading.
Governor Kate Brown has said she’s open to scheduling a special legislative session on July 2 if the Republican Senators don’t return (or the state police don't capture them) before June 30. But because it would technically be a new session, all progress made on bills still waiting for a vote would be scrapped, and they’d have to start from the beginning.
In other words: If the GOP continues to play hooky for another week, a lot more than carbon emission caps will be lost.