Legislators should use every tool available to protect their constituents. When the majority party proposes laws that place Oregonians at risk, one of those tools is the refusal to provide a quorum.
The requirement that a “quorum” be present before a body can act is to assure that action is based on more than just a few opinions. In the Senate, a body of 30 people, a quorum consists of no fewer than 20 senators. There are 18 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the Oregon Legislature.
This tactic is justified because the Democrats’ corporate activity tax and cap and trade tax are inequitable, regressive and damaging at every level. Other bills brought by Democrats restrict personal freedoms and are equally extreme. Topping this off is the Democrats’ willingness to pass a $2 billion gross receipts tax before stopping the real harm that the Public Employees Retirement System continues to wreak upon Oregon children’s educational opportunities. Essentially, the Democrats are pouring $2 billion of your money into a bucket with a huge PERS hole in it. Yes, if ever there were a time to step out and say “stop,” it is now.
The Republican senators’ decision to walk out should be understood for what it is: a predictable response to legislation that is seriously flawed. Or, to quote our Democratic governor, Kate Brown, who was the Senate Democratic Leader in 2001 at the time of a Democratic boycott: “Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us and stage a similar boycott.”