For most of this year’s legislative session, Oregon Republicans have been able to deny Democrats the opportunity to pass a sweeping gun control bill and other progressive priorities; not by voting down the legislation, which is impossible given their minority status in both the House and the Senate, but by not showing up for work. Without the prerequisite number of legislators in their respective chambers, Democrats have been unable to get a quorum, which has stymied their anti-gun plans (along with almost every other bill under consideration).
Now, however, GOP and Democratic leadership say they’re close to an agreement that will see Republicans return to the state capitol in exchange for a watering-down of the gun control legislation and a few other top priorities for the left.
While stressing that any agreement would still need to be approved by rank-and-file lawmakers — not a sure thing — three people briefed on the matter said a framework hammered out over the course of 10 hours of negotiations includes major concessions by Democrats on bills creating new abortion protections and gun restrictions. The sources declined to speak on the record, citing ongoing discussions.
Such an agreement would amount to a notable turnabout for the majority party. Top Democrats have said repeatedly they would not negotiate those priorities in the face of a Republican walkout.
If it moves forward, the deal would be a win in one respect for Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and his colleagues, who would have succeeded in watering down the policies they most oppose in exchange for allowing other bills to pass unfettered.
… Under the framework being floated to members, Democrats also might scale back an omnibus gun safety proposal, House Bill 2005. The bill included three major provisions when it passed the House in early May: prohibiting ghost guns that can’t be traced by authorities, raising the age to possess most firearms from 18 to 21 and allowing local governments to ban concealed guns.
Under the tentative deal, only the ghost gun provision would survive, though lawmakers also might create a task force to address suicide by gun.
I’m curious to see if the rank-and-file Republicans go along here. Under a ballot measure approved by Oregon voters last year, any lawmaker who racks up 10 or more unexcused absences during a single session is prohibited by law from running for reelection, and already most of the GOP senators have crossed that Rubicon. Will they go along with this agreement to get back to work given that they’ve already put their jobs on the line by walking out for most of the session?
I’d say at this point the phrase “in for a penny, in for a pound” is applicable here. The GOP strategy to date has been to play hardball with the quorum while prepping legal challenges to the ballot measure prohibiting the no-shows from running for re-election, and I’m not sure why leadership has decided to reverse course now that the legislative session is nearing its official close on June 25th.
As for the deal on the gun control bill, while I’m glad to see Republicans have taken the under-21 gun ban and weakening of the state’s firearm preemption law off the table, the ban on home-built guns and unserialized 80% frames and receivers is still deeply troubling given that a first offense can be subject to 364 days in jail, and a second charge can result in a ten-year prison sentence simply for possessing an unserialized firearm.
If I were an Oregon voter I’d be encouraging my legislators to reject this deal and stick with their plan to legally challenge the ballot measure prohibiting many of them from running for another term instead of bending the knee and accepting any infringement of our right to keep and bear arms. We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but the fact that the Senate failed to meet its quorum again on Monday may be a sign that a number of these senators are still not on board with the “compromise” worked out by leadership.