Where do we go from here?

While we wait to hear whom Governor Kotek will appoint to the Secretary of State, we also wait to see what bills will move this legislative session.

The Senate hit a screeching halt last Wednesday with Republicans denying quorum and preventing voting on any bills. It’s not the same type of walkout seen in years past due to the passage of Measure 113 in 2022.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp and State Senator Dick Anderson have remained present in the building with the rest of their caucus and Independent Brian Boquist not to be found in the Capitol. Knopp cites the controversial gun bill, abortion and gender-affirming care bill, and his caucuses’ complaint over bill summaries not following Senate Rules as the causes of this protest. Republicans have made it clear they will use all tools available to halt the passage of these bills.

Senate President Rob Wagner and Majority Leader Kate Lieber are using the tools they have at their disposal to minimize the impact of the walkout. With the passage of Measure 113, any legislator with 10 or more unexcused absences is prohibited from seeking re-election. Following the first day of quorum denial, President Wagner scheduled floor sessions for every day of the week including weekends to rack up Republicans’ unexcused absences as quickly as possible. As of now, it appears Republicans will only be able to deny quorum until May 12 without sacrificing any of their members’ ability to run for re-election. The threat of being barred from running for re-election appears to be of little deterrence at this point.

Two noteworthy dates in the coming weeks:

  • May 17 is the final session revenue forecast. It will be the forecast that determines the legislature’s final budget decisions.
  • May 19 is the last day for policy committees. After that date, policy committees will be shut down and all policy work will be funneled through a single committee, either the House Rules Committee or the Senate Rules Committee.

Issues We’re Tracking

SB 5 – This bill re-instates an R&D tax edit for manufacturers. The current bill limits the tax credit to the semi-conductor industry, but legislators are hearing from all around the state that the credit should be available to all manufacturing.

HB 3568 – This would broadly limit employers’ use of quotas and performance metrics in warehouse and distribution center operations. Oregon OSHA and BOLI already enforce Oregon’s strict workplace safety and rest break laws.

HB 2098 – Establishing a plan for funding Oregon’s portion of the I-5 bridge replacement project is quickly becoming the focal point of the remaining weeks of this year’s session. Last week saw the first major public hearing on amendment language related to the project. Already, typical battle lines over union work requirements, tolling, project costs, and environmental impacts have come to the fore.

SB 127 – It’s possible the Senate will again take up the issue of raising the exemption on the CAT tax for small businesses. Stay tuned for the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee to take up the issue again with discussions on how to move forward.

Content contributed by Bravio Communications, Salem Chamber staff, and OSCC.

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