While the Oregon legislative session is slated to end on June 25, the legislature – at the time of this writing – has been unable to pass bills for over a month after a historic walk-out that may last until the end of session. If a deal is reached that brings Senate Republicans back, that body will need to focus exclusively on floor sessions to pass previously approved bills. If that does not happen, it could lead to a special session focused on passing critical budget bills.
Beginning in early May, Republican Senators, who hold 12 of 30 seats in the chamber, began skipping floor sessions, thereby denying the Senate the members needed to meet quorum requirements. Oregon remains one of the few states to have a legislative quorum of higher than fifty percent, instead requiring 20 of 30 members to be present in order to conduct business.
In an attempt to address this issue, Oregon voters enacted Measure 113 in November 2022 which bars legislators who have more than 10 unexcused absences from running for reelection. However, Republicans have chosen to ignore this rule, instead arguing that they will fight the legality of Measure 113 in court over the next year.
Because of this tactic, the bulk of bills that PROTEC17 has been tracking and supporting through the 2023 session are now stalled. This includes electronic authorization cards for new union organizing (HB 2573), bringing Oregon OSHA penalties in line with federal standards (SB 592), and improving school ventilation standards (HB 3031) along with many, many other important pieces of legislation.
If there is a political breakthrough before the end of session, there will be a rush to pass as many of these bills as possible, but because of the time crunch, some bills may be cut that otherwise would have become law. This will likely lead to significant competition between policy areas, and Labor will be urging leadership to prioritize workers’ rights and safety at this critical time.
If you would like more information about the Oregon legislative session or PROTEC17’s work to support workers in Oregon, please visit the PROTEC17 Political Action webpage at protec17.org/ political-action, or contact PROTEC17’s Oregon Legislative Advocate Elliot Levin at .