The first test of a new constitutional amendment to punish elected officials who walk out of the Oregon Legislature passed by Oregon voters six months ago seems to be a failure in at least one regard: Preventing walkouts.
Now, Gales Creek and Banks’ Senator Suzanne Weber has made herself ineligible for reelection in 2026 by missing 10 days on the Senate floor.
The new law, Measure 113, passed with the support of 68.3% of voters in November 2022, aimed to stop walkouts by making elected senators and representatives ineligible for the next election cycle if they had ten unexcused absences during a legislative session.
But now, well into this year’s legislative session, and almost two weeks into a Republican-led walkout (one independent lawmaker, formerly a Republican, has joined the boycott), the law hasn’t seemed to have an effect: As of Thursday, ten senators will be barred from seeking reelection for the next term.
Oregon’s constitution requires that two-thirds of lawmakers be present for either chamber to pass bills. Most other states simply require a majority of legislators to be present.
In recent years, it’s become a frequent tool of the Republican minority to halt legislation they don’t like, simply by leaving the building—sometimes the state—and letting bills founder.
The walkout has been used by Democrats too, most recently more than two decades ago in 2001.
Weber, a former Tillamook mayor and Oregon House representative until she won the seat long held by former State Sen. Betsy Johnson, has been a leader in this year’s walkout.
How did voters in Banks, Gales Creek, Timber, Buxton, and Manning vote on Measure 113?
An analysis of precinct voting records for precincts 301 (parts of Gales Creek, Glenwood, and Timber), 312 (Gales Creek, David Hill), 305 (Banks), and 326 (parts of Buxton, Manning, Mountaindale, and other areas near Banks) showed that these areas of Weber’s district voted in favor of making legislators ineligible to run for the next term after ten unexcused absences.
Precinct 301: 54.7% in favor
Precinct 312: 56.3% in favor
Precinct 305: 60.2% in favor
Precinct 326: 54.7% in favor
Weber’s Senate District 16 stretches from the coast, across the northern Coast Range, and well into Washington County, bundling Tillamook County, Columbia County, Clatsop County, and a small portion of Multnomah County into one political map along the way.
Earlier in May, Weber, along with Rep. Emily McIntire (R-Eagle Point), filed for a temporary restraining order to halt House Bill 2002, according to a press release. The elected officials said the bill ignored legislative rules requiring bill summaries to be written at an 8th-grade reading level, and a constitutional requirement calling for simple language in bills.
“The Senate operates within the confines of the Constitution, state law, and chamber rules, all of which are being willfully ignored by the Senate President and the majority party,” Weber said in the press release. “It is clear that legislation we adopt must be plainly written and easy to understand. Anything less disenfranchises Oregonians across the state and violates the law in the process. If Democrats refuse to comply, it is our responsibility to hold them accountable to process and rules.”
As reported by the Forest Grove News-Times, Marion County Circuit Judge David Leith rejected the petition, saying “I don’t see any likelihood of success in persuading the court” to pass judgment on legislative process.
Meanwhile, in the Oregon House, Gales Creek and Banks’ State Representative Brian Stout is embroiled in scandal: Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Cathleen Callahan upheld a restraining order against him, writing that a woman who accused Stout of sexually assault and and a threat to push her off a cliff was credible and Stout was not, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported, leaving the future electability of this corner of Oregon’s state representative and senator in question.