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The Rules Are For The Little People

Ballot Measure 113, passed by the people of Oregon, said a legislator with ten or more unexcused absences would not be eligible to serve in the future.

(It should be noted that while this measure was the product of a collection of far left organizations, the Republicans who would be affected by it did not bother to file a single argument against it. Not one.)

In 2023, 10 Senators (9 Republicans and one Independent, Brian Boquist) had more than 10 absences that Senate President Rob Wagner refused to excuse. (It was an email newsletter from Brian Boquist that prompted this post.)

There is some debate about exactly when that prohibition would take effect.

What the measure says exactly is:

“Failure to attend, without permission or excuse, ten or more legislative floor sessions called to transact business during a regular or special legislative session shall be deemed disorderly behavior and shall disqualify the member from holding office as a Senator or Representative for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”

Emphasis added.

Because of the underlined language, Republicans who have been barred from future office for having refused to participate in the charade that was the last legislative session have argued that they may run and serve in the next election cycle but not the cycle after that.

“We believe the plain language of Measure 113 allows for members to run again in 2024 elections,” Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, one of the 10 senators who walked, said in a statement. “We disagree with the Secretary of State’s determination and will challenge it in court.”

The ballot measure summary echoes the language of the measure itself:

“Under measure, legislator who engages in ‘disorderly behavior’ through unexcused absences is disqualified from serving as a Senator or Representative for the term following the end of the legislator’s current term.

The Text of the measure can be seen on this page.  No direct link is available.

The “Explanatory Statement,” which is crafted by a committee determined by the Secretary of State, which in the case of Measure 113 was the disgraced Shemia Fagan, included the following:

 “A candidate may run for office in the next primary and general elections and win, but cannot hold office under this measure due to ten or more unexcused absences.”

While the debate about when prohibitions in the measure actually kick in will be resolved by the courts (no doubt in favor of the Democrats) what is more interesting is the decision by the new Secretary of State, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, a Democrat appointed by a Democrat governor. 

In a decision posted on the new Secretary of State’s website she says the following:

“The rule clarifies that Measure 113 disqualifies legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences during the 2023 legislative session from running for legislative seats in the 2024 election.

Emphasis added.

So while measure clearly states, and the explanatory statement (which is the partisan product of a partisan committee) clearly reiterates, that the measure does not prevent the affected senators from running for office, our new unelected SOS has decided unilaterally that it does.

To back up her position, the new Secretary of State quotes far left newspaper articles. We are not making this up.

For example, the Oregonian wrote on November 8, 2022 that legislators who run afoul of the measure “will be disallowed from serving in the Legislature during the subsequent term.” Similarly, the Lebanon Local News wrote in all caps that the measure would “BAN LEGISLATORS WITH 10 UNEXCUSED ABSENCES FROM SERVING NEXT TERM.” 

What the measure says does not matter. What the summary says does not matter. What the previous regime said does not matter.

The rules are for the little people.  Like you.