GOP absences stymie Oregon House on redistricting plans
A redrawn map for Oregon's six U.S. House districts failed to move Republicans in the Oregon House, which remained stymied Saturday as the deadline nears for lawmakers to complete congressional and legislative redistricting plans already passed by the Senate.
The House adjourned until 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27, which is the deadline for lawmakers to complete work on both plans or let others assume those tasks.
Only 34 of the 60-member House checked in, short of the 40 required to conduct business. Only one was a Republican.
If 40 do not show up by 9:30 Monday morning, Speaker Tina Kotek said, "We will be finished and the session will be over."
The new proposal unveiled Saturday would alter the political landscape for congressional districts, compared with the Democratic map that passed the Oregon Senate five days ago. But apparently it was not enough for the 23 Republicans in the 60-member Oregon House.
"At the end of the day, this is a more dressed-up gerrymandered map," Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany, the sole Republican member, said at the end of a 25-minute presentation to the House panel on congressional redistricting.
"You can clearly state your protest through a no vote," Chairwoman Andrea Salinas, a Democrat from Lake Oswego, replied. "But I do hope you will show up and make sure your voice is heard on behalf of those you represent."
But the committee took no vote. When it came time for the House to convene an hour later at 1 p.m., just 34 of the 60 members checked in. After 5 p.m., Kotek adjourned the session. Twenty-one members were officially excused. "I will say that in many cases, I took a very generous approach to some of the rationales for being excused today," the Portland Democrat said. "But that will not be the case on Monday." Five were absent. (See list at end of this story.)
The only Republican to have checked in was Rep. Ron Noble of McMinnville. All members will be paid their per-diem expense allowance, which is $151 per session day.
The new proposal for congressional districts would link Bend with the 5th District — which now would extend from Portland's south suburbs in Clackamas County through the mid-Willamette Valley and across the Cascades — instead of with a 3rd District extended from Portland east to Hood River County and south to Wasco, Jefferson and Deschutes counties into Bend.
Deschutes County grew by more than 25% in the past decade, Oregon's fastest rate among counties.
Wasco and Jefferson counties would remain in the 2nd District, which covers most of Oregon east of the Cascades and south of the Willamette Valley. The 2nd has elected only Republicans since its current configuration in 1982.
The revised 3rd still would take in most of Multnomah County, but also Hood River County and a larger swath of Clackamas County.
The Willamette River has been the dividing line between the 1st and 3rd districts, but the 1st would be extended across the river to cover inner Northeast Portland.
The 1st (northwest Oregon) and 4th (southwest Oregon) would remain as in the Senate-passed plan, and the new 6th would stretch south from eastern Washington County into Yamhill and Polk counties, and part of Marion County including Salem.
But Republicans have insisted that heavily Democratic Multnomah County should be its own district, even though its population of 815,418 exceeds the 702,000 that will constitute a single Oregon congressional district — and that the Willamette has divided the 1st and 3rd districts for at least 50 years. A sliver of the 5th remains in Multnomah County.
The House committee would have to substitute the amended congressional map in Senate Bill 881 for it to come to a vote of the full House, where the Senate-passed legislative redistricting plan (SB 882) awaits a vote. If the amended version of the congressional map passes, it would return to the Senate.
If lawmakers do not complete work on either plan by Monday, Sept. 27, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan would assume responsibility for legislative redistricting — she would not be bound by any action of the Legislature — and a special panel named by the Oregon Supreme Court would oversee congressional redistricting. Both would face new deadlines — Oct. 18 for Fagan, Oct. 22 for the judicial panel — and their work can be challenged in the court, which is the final arbiter for both plans. The court would make plans final by Feb. 8, one month before the filing deadline for the May 17, 2022, primary election.
Oregon gained a sixth U.S. House seat as a result of the 2020 Census, which requires the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts to account for population shifts during the past decade.
The No More Costly Walkouts Coalition, which consists of groups that usually support Democrats, says it will pursue ballot measures for the 2022 general election to allow voters to curb walkouts. Its statement in part:
"Today marks the fifth time in three years the GOP has shut down the legislature and prevented the work of the people from moving forward.Â
"In response to the increasing number of irresponsible, expensive and often lengthy walkouts, the No More Costly Walkouts Coalition continues to support petitions filed to hold lawmakers accountable and make such legislative shutdowns more difficult and rare. Signature gathering will begin on the measures in plenty of time to qualify for the November 2022 ballot."
Members officially excused from Saturday session of the Oregon House:
• Democrats (4): Brian Clem, Salem; Ken Helm, Beaverton; Nancy Nathanson, Eugene; Marty Wilde, Eugene.
• Republicans (17): Daniel Bonham, The Dalles; Shelly Boshart Davis, Albany; Vicki Breese-Iverson, Prineville; Jami Cate, Lebanon; Christine Goodwin, Roseburg; Cedric Hayden, Lowell; Bobby Levy, Echo; Rick Lewis, Silverton; Raquel Moore-Green, Salem; Lily Morgan, Grants Pass; Mark Owens, Crane; Bill Post, Keizer; Anna Scharf, Amity; David Brock Smith, Port Orford; Duane Stark, Grants Pass; Kim Wallan, Medford; Gerald "Boomer" Wright, Reedsport;
Members classified as absent from Saturday session:
• Republicans (5): Christine Drazan, Canby; Werner Reschke, Klamath Falls; Greg Smith, Heppner; Suzanne Weber, Tillamook; Jack Zika, Redmond.
Present:33 Democrats and Republican Ron Noble of McMinnville.
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