SALEM — The Oregon House of Representatives voted 49-to-5 Wednesday to send a constitutional amendment to voters to create a process for impeaching the governor.
Oregon is the only state in the nation that has no mechanism for executive impeachment.
Rep. Jodi Hack, R-Salem, has been working on the joint resolution since 2015, the year Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned amid an influence-peddling scandal.
Hack and other lawmakers introduced the proposal to address the lack of an impeachment process. The proposal was not a direct reaction to the Kitzhaber debacle, said Preston Mann, a spokesman for the House GOP.
“I think most Oregonians would be surprised to learn that our state does not have a mechanism for executive branch impeachment already in place,” Hack said. “In fact, Oregon continues to be the only state in the nation without this kind of protection against executive branch misconduct. I am of course hopeful that we would never need to pursue an impeachment proceeding, but we should not pretend that Oregon is immune to potential political scandals.”
The measure would allow the House to impeach a statewide official on the grounds of malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, felonies or misdemeanors. The process would require a three-fifths majority vote in the House. The official would then face a trial in the Senate, where conviction would require a two-thirds majority vote.
The proposal was first offered in 2015 but stalled in the Senate, Mann said.
“As I have said since I originally introduced this concept in 2015, this resolution is not intended to create a new weapon for partisan politics, but rather a tool for holding our executive branch accountability when necessary,” Hack said Wednesday. “Let’s do right by the people of Oregon, pass HJR 10 out of the Legislature, and give Oregonians an opportunity to weigh in on this discussion.”
The resolution now heads to the Senate. If approved, the measure would appear on the 2018 general election ballot.