Oregon Measure Aims To Limit Legislative Walkouts

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's public sector unions are pushing a ballot measure that would limit the ability of the minority party in the Legislature to use walkouts to block legislation.

Republicans have used the tactic frequently at the Capitol in recent years to try to thwart the agenda of Democrats, who have firm control of both the state House and Senate.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that under the proposal, a lawmaker who is marked unexcused by a chamber’s presiding officer 10 or more times in a single legislative session would be barred under the state Constitution from seeking re-election.

On Friday, backers of Initiative Petition 14, dubbed “Legislative Accountability 1,” said they submitted 183,942 signatures to the Oregon secretary of state.

To qualify for the November ballot, state elections officials will need to determine that at least 149,360 of those signatures are from registered Oregon voters.

“It’s long past time that there were rules in place to make sure politicians show up to do their jobs,” Oregon Education Association President Reed Scott-Schwalbach, one of two chief petitioners, said in a statement Friday.

Because of the proposal’s reliance on unexcused absences, the law would place a lot of power in the hands of the speaker of the House and the Senate president, the two presiding officers who decide whether or not a lawmakers’ absence is excused.

Excused absences are fairly routine in Salem, with lawmakers filing requests with presiding officers explaining why they are unable to attend. They are not granted in cases where lawmakers are absent in order to block legislation.