Oregon Senate walkout ends with a deal. Here are the terms

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — Thursday saw the end of a six-week walkout, the longest in state history, that ground business in the Oregon Senate to a halt. Enough Republican senators showed up in the chamber that morning to establish a quorum, allowing floor votes to resume and signaling a successful end to negotiations with majority Democrats.

So what do we know about the deal that Republicans and Democrats struck to end the walkout? There are still some unanswered questions, as initial statements from both sides preferred to highlight only what they accomplished — not what they were forced to concede. But between the two, we can discern the vague outline of a deal. Here’s what we know so far:

House Bill 2002

Reproductive rights bill HB 2002 made up the true core of Republicans’ complaints during the walkout. With it, Democrats hoped to shore up and expand access to abortion, reproductive rights and gender-affirming care following the Dobbs decision and amid a wave of anti-transgender legislation throughout the U.S.

Under existing Oregon law, people 15 and older can make their own medical decisions — up to and including, presumably, abortion. As passed in the House, HB 2002 would not only make that right explicit, it would extend the right to an abortion to minors 14 and younger without parental permission or consent. It would also require that insurers cover medically necessary gender-affirming care, among other things.

RELATED: Here’s what the Oregon bill on abortion, gender-affirming care would actually change

We did know immediately post-walkout that HB 2002 was not dead. But all signs pointed to amendments, perhaps significant ones.

Lawmakers worked quickly to churn out an amended version on Thursday, which they published and passed in a 17-3 vote on the Senate floor by late afternoon. A number of conservative senators remained conspicuously absent — there were just enough lawmakers in attendance to provide a quorum.

The bill will need to go back to the House for a concurrence vote on the new version.

As amended, HB 2002 still provides a pathway for minors 14 and younger to receive an abortion, but it hinges on the assessments of health care providers rather than the decisions of minors alone.

To provide an abortion to someone 14 or younger, a health care provider must reasonably believe that “involving the parent or guardian of the minor may result in the physical or emotional abuse of the minor or the neglect of the minor,” or that “requiring the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor would not be in the best interest of the minor, for the reasons documented by the health care provider after obtaining the concurrence of another health care provider who is associated with a separate medical practice or facility.”

Essentially, the health care provider must determine that the minor is in an unsafe situation at home, or they must get a second opinion if they think that notifying parents otherwise wouldn’t be in the minor’s best interests.

The alterations to HB 2002’s abortion provisions are undoubtedly the biggest changes, though not the only ones. The amended bill also drops funding for rural reproductive health care centers and abortion care at public universities.

The bill’s original requirements around gender-affirming care, however, remain fundamentally untouched.

House Bill 2005

Another major sticking point for Republicans was HB 2005, which passed the House as a package of gun control measures. It included a ban on “ghost guns,” raised the age to purchase and possess most guns from 18 to 21, and allowed municipalities to decide whether they want to prohibit all firearms in public buildings and on public grounds.

The deal that ended the Republican walkout pared much of that away, leaving only the ghost gun section of the bill.

As amended, HB 2005 creates punishments for building, importing or selling ghost guns, like the kind created with a 3D printer. It imposes a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine or both. Possession of a ghost gun comes with a maximum of 364 days’ imprisonment, a $6,250 fine, or both on first conviction, and 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both on a second and subsequent convictions.

It includes similar punishments for the trading of guns without serial numbers. For a first conviction, that can result in a $1,000 fine. Second convictions go up to 364 days’ imprisonment, a $6,250 fine, or both. Third and subsequent convictions could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.

For unfinished gun frames or receivers, gun dealers must treat them similarly to a completed gun — first conducting a criminal background check. Trading in these components without following the laws that apply to licensed gun dealers is punished in much the same way as guns without serial numbers.

The amended HB 2005 passed the Oregon Senate on Thursday as well. It will go to the House for a concurrence vote.

Readability standards

When Republicans first started their walkout in the Senate, they pitched it as a protest against Democrats proceeding with “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” bills, which violated a long-forgotten law requiring that bill summaries be readable at an 8th-grade level as established by the Flesch readability test.

While it’s true that those readability standards are enshrined in Oregon law and in legislative rules, the argument itself was something of a fig leaf. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were content to write above the comprehension of a middle-schooler for just about every single bill we looked at this year, right up until House Democrats passed House Bill 2002 and took it up in the Senate.

RELATED: Republicans cite Oregon’s arcane legislative readability standards for stance against bill

The Associated Press cited Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp as saying that a Republican staffer discovered the old readability law in April, and Knopp couldn’t say when it had last been followed. They dusted it off during arguments over HB 2002.

Fig leaf or no, House Republicans said in a statement released Thursday that they secured promises around readability as part of the framework that ended the walkout, ensuring that “bill summaries will be redrafted to comply with House Rules, Senate Rules, Oregon statute, and the Oregon Constitution.”

If this is indeed true, then any further bills that the legislature intends to pass must be sent back to committee for new bill summaries before they are brought back for a floor vote — potentially limiting the number of bills that lawmakers can actually pass before the session ends next Sunday, June 25.

It’s worth noting that amended bill summaries that emerged from the Senate rules committee on Thursday looked identical, readability-wise, to the originals.

Return of the ‘kill list’

When The Story’s Pat Dooris spoke to Senate President Rob Wagner during the walkout late last month, he said that Democrats were adamant as the long session began this year — bolstered by the anti-walkout Measure 113 — that they’d accept no more bill “kill lists” from Republicans.

“This isn’t a time for the minority to be able to determine a kill list,” Wagner said at the time. “I think that’s really bad policy. It’s bad politics. It’s not what the voters want us here doing. They want a democracy.”

But House Republicans, at least, boasted Thursday that they’d successfully killed several bills as part of the deal.

Those included Senate Bill 348 and Senate Bill 393. The former would have modified and clarified voter-approved gun control law Measure 114, currently held up in court. The latter would have directed the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to study the effect of different sentencing types on crime recidivism rates.

Republicans also bragged that they’d killed Senate Joint Resolution 33, which proposed an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing equal rights and banning discrimination based on sex, “pregnancy, pregnancy outcome or related health decisions,” “gender identity or related health decisions,” sexual orientation or gender. It would also repeal Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage, still technically enshrined in the Oregon Constitution.

An amended version of the bill proposed by Republicans at the beginning of May would repeal the ban on same-sex marriage and remove everything else in SJR 33.

For the time being, same-sex marriage is the law of the land due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell, but many people fear that the decision could be overturned just as Roe was. Prior to the Obergefell decision, a federal judge struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriages.

Democrats, in their statement, said SJR 33 and its companion Senate Bill 27 will be referred back to committee and “conversations on how to enshrine Oregon values in our Constitution will continue in the interim.”

The priority bills

In addition to bills amended or killed, lawmakers on both sides identified bills seemingly slated for votes as part of the deal.

House Joint Resolution 16 would give Oregon voters the opportunity to amend the state Constitution, giving the legislature the power to hold statewide elected officials accountable via impeachment. The resolution had bipartisan sponsorship but made little progress prior to the walkout.

Both sides stressed Thursday that the change would “align Oregon with every other state in the country.”

Democrats also named House Bill 2757, which would substantively fund 9-8-8, the national suicide prevention hotline number launched in Oregon in summer 2022. Republicans did not mention this bill in their release.

“This hotline is a critical resource for Oregonians experiencing mental health crises. Implementing the full 988 architecture will ensure access and quick response for communities across the state,” Democratic leadership said in a statement.

Republicans, on the other hand, mentioned Senate Bill 498, which would exempt family-owned farms, ranches and timber lands from Oregon’s estate tax.

These are just the bills specifically mentioned by each side as being part of the deal. Hundreds of bills, many of them with bipartisan support, have been stuck in the legislature since the walkout began in early May.

RELATED: Hundreds of bills at risk as Oregon Senate Republican walkout stretches on

Democrats highlighted the budget bills: investments in K-12 schools, drought and water security, rural infrastructure and economic development, public safety and accountability, public defense and higher education. They also said that Oregon’s first state-based child tax credit and bills concerning behavioral health, climate and other priorities now have a path forward.

The session ends in little more than a week, and it’s unclear how many bills lawmakers will be able to pass in the time remaining. In a press conference on Thursday, Senate President Rob Wagner indicated that lawmakers would not be working through this weekend or on Monday’s Juneteenth holiday.

“I’m hoping that, given the time that we have, if we work diligently, there can still be adequate conversation on the floor and that we’re going to be able to move through the bill stack,” Wagner told members of the press.

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