On Feb. 24, for the third time in under a year, Republican state senators walked out to deprive the Oregon Senate the quorum needed to vote on bills. The intent was to prevent a vote on a cap-and-trade carbon reduction bill, but it prevents the Legislature from passing any laws at all.
Fed up with lawmakers abandoning their duties, several Oregon unions helped draft prospective ballot initiatives to sanction the legislative deserters, and turned in initial signatures March 3.
Initiative Petition 63 is a constitutional amendment that defines 10 or more unexcused absences from a floor session as disorderly conduct, and disqualifies a legislator from running for a House or Senate seat in the subsequent election. Initiative Petition 64 levies fines of $500 a day on a lawmaker who walks out, and prohibits them from profiting from walkouts by stopping their salaries and per diem payments. It also prohibits lawmakers from using or accepting political contributions to pay their fines or other expenses for walking off the job.
Chief petitioners are Service Employees Local 503 Vice President Andrea Kennedy-Smith, a paralegal and union steward in the state Child Welfare Department; and Oregon Education Association Vice President Reed Scott-Schwalbach, a Spanish teacher in the Centennial School District.