The Quest to End Single-Family Zoning in Oregon Crashes Up Against Fallout From the Republican Walkout

Drama at the Oregon State Senate continued Sunday on what is supposed to be the last day of the legislative session.

One of the highest-profile laws to be considered by the Oregon legislature failed to get the required votes at least temporarily this morning, as the fallout from the Republican walkout continued

House Bill 2001, which would end exclusively single-family zoning in Oregon cities, failed at least temporarily by a vote of 14-to-13, with 16 votes required for passage.

State Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) refused to be on the floor of the state Senate at the same time as State Brian Boquist (R-Dallas). Boquist voted for it. Gelser is expected to support it. (When the vote on HB 2001 failed by one vote, Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), and the majority leader, switched her vote to no, as well, and moved to reconsider the bill. Only the winning side of a vote can move to reconsider.)

During the nine day Republican walkout, Sen. Boquist implied he would shoot to kill an state trooper sent after him ("send bachelors and come heavily armed ") when he and Republicans walked out to block the climate change bill, House Bill 2020.

He did not enter the Senate chamber yesterday and was excused by the Senate President. According to the Salem Reporter, a legal opinion from outside counsel had advised that he could be barred over the comments.

Today, he was there.

But Sen. Sara Gelser, who was a leading voice in the Me Too movement and a whistleblower on the sexual harassment scandal in Salem nearly two years ago, was not.

The bill would be the first of its kind in the nation, and follows a similar effort by the city of Minneapolis last year to end single-family zoning in the city. It's a second top priority of House Speaker Tina Kotek on housing.

Related: Could Oregon Become the First State to Ban Single-Family Zoning?

HB 2001 passed on an overwhelming and bipartisan vote in the House 43-to-16 on June 20. In the Senate, Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), both of whose districts include affluent neighborhoods, which have been vocal opponents of the bill, were among those voting no.

Related: Oregon House Passes Bill to End the Exclusive Use of Single-Family Zoning in Cities

The Senate reconvenes at 1 pm. Two sources in the building say supporters of the bill are working to get Gelser back to the floor.

Gelser did not respond to request for comment.

She responded to a Tweet by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporting noting her absence of the close vote, saying that the "Senate president invited me to leave. This was his choice."

Gelser explained in a statement yesterday to KGW-TV that Boquist had been kept off the floor over his comments:

"I did not think it was appropriate for Senator Boquist to be on the floor because an outside investigator determined he poses a credible threat of violence and recommended he be excluded from the building to keep people safe through the conclusion of the Conduct Committee process. I asked Senators Baertschiger and Courtney to urge him to stay off of the floor out of consideration for the many people who have expressed concern for their safety. Whether or not he was carrying did not factor into my concerns."

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