SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans and an independent senator in the Oregon Senate stretched a walkout Monday to 10 days, triggering a new constitutional provision that prohibits lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from being reelected.
The walkout that began May 3 has stalled action on hundreds of bills, including on gun control, gender-affirming care and abortion rights, as a deadline threatened to disqualify them from being reelected.
Three of the boycotting senators — two Republicans, Sen. Dennis Linthicum and Sen. Daniel Bonham; and an Independent, Sen. Brian Boquist — reached the 10-day limit on Monday, meaning they are automatically disqualified from holding office as a lawmaker for the next four-year terms.
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The walkout by GOP senators in the Democrat-dominated Legislature has prevented a quorum of the Senate, with two-thirds of members required to be present for the chamber to debate and vote on bills. Republicans have used the tactic in previous years.
On Monday, only 16 senators were present, four short of the quorum. All the Republicans and the lone independent stayed away.
This time, a constitutional amendment — approved by 68% of voters in a ballot measure last November — disqualifies lawmakers with 10 unexcused absences from reelection. At least some of the boycotting senators are expected to file challenges to their disqualification in court.
Election results from November 2022 show a majority of voters in all but two counties approved the 10 unexcused absences rule. The two counties that voted against were Lake and Sherman.
Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.