SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — This week the Oregon Senate enters week six of the Republican-led walkout which has halted hundreds of bills, including House Bill 2002. Senate Democrats took to the steps of the Capitol to make their case to voters over what’s at stake Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re not giving up on the session, we’re not giving up on Oregonians, we’re not giving up on these bills that are so critically important, we’re not giving up on the state budget and we’re not giving up on the Senate,” said Rep. David Gomberg, a Democrat representing parts of Lincoln, Benton and Lane counties.
Democratic lawmakers and several community advocates are still demanding Republican senators get back to work. They detailed bills on education, reproductive rights and wildfires that would fail if they continue not to show up.
The tenth and longest walkout in the Oregon legislature’s history continued this week, with Republican senators refusing to return until House Bill 2002 is removed. HB 2002 is a bill that would expand access to reproductive and gender-affirming health care — something Democrats say they don’t compromise on.
“We can’t negotiate our fundamental reproductive freedoms which Oregonians voted on and voted us into office to protect,” said Rep. Khanh Pham, a Democrat from Southeast Portland.
But it’s not just HB 2002 on the line. There are nearly 300 other bills at risk of failure.
Funding for wildfire programs is one matter on the chopping block. Senator Jeff Golden, a Democrat from Jackson County, said that if these wildfire bills are not adopted the state is looking at serious damage that can be life or death.
“If we don’t want a series of summers blanketed by toxic smoke over increasing expanses of the state we have to stay the course,” said Golden.
Two weeks ago, Republicans pledged to end their walkout on June 25, the constitutionally mandated final day of the current legislative session, in order to pass “substantially bipartisan budgets and bills,” Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp said in a statement.
KGW spoke with Knopp earlier in the day Tuesday during a press conference at the Capitol. He said the Democratic leadership could end the walkout tomorrow by being “trustworthy, bipartisan, constitutional and lawful.”
“They choose not to do that. So I really think that tells you the value, and how they value Oregonians. We said we are coming back and there’s no issue with the perceived emergency,” he said.
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