by Norman Turrill, Coordinator
The special session of the Legislative Assembly concluded Monday, the deadline, with passage of the legislative and congressional maps proposed by the supermajority Democrats. The session dragged on without agreement for almost a week! The drama was all about the congressional redistricting bill, SB 881, which the Senate passed along party lines. The original version would have produced 4 safe Democratic districts, one Democratic leaning district, and one safe Republican district. The most egregious district would have been CD 3 stretching from the Willamette River in Portland to Bend in central Oregon. Four CDs would radiate from the Portland area, clearly a gerrymander.
Republicans were clearly unhappy with the original bill, but a possible walkout was made moot when an undisclosed person in the Capitol tested positive for COVID-19, delaying a House session until Saturday morning. In the meantime, Democrats tried to lure Republicans with a -3 SB 881 amendment, which would have produced 3 safe Democratic districts, one Democratic leaning district, one swing district, and one safe Republican district. This plan’s most egregious feature was that three CDs crossed the Cascade Mountains, Oregon’s largest geographic barrier, and four CDs would still radiate from the Portland area.
After a game of chicken where most Republicans did not show up and denied a Saturday session quorum, the -3 amendment ultimately passed the House Monday on party-line votes. The Senate had to repass SB 881 with a party-line vote before final adjournment.
The legislative redistricting bill, SB 882, was by comparison relatively non-controversial; although, all Senate and House Republicans and two Democrats still voted against it. Various redistricting evaluation services rated the proposal as fairly well drawn.
Lawsuits have been threatened, so stay tuned!
Campaign Finance Reform
Because the legislature failed to adopt any campaign finance reform bill to implement the Measure 107 constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2020, a collaboration of organizations, including the LWVOR and organized by Honest Elections Oregon, have been meeting with stakeholders to draft an initiative petition for the 2022 ballot.
Two referendums to repeal HB 2681 about cleaning voter rolls and HB 3291 to repeal the election day postmark bill failed to collect enough signatures.