The Oregon Senate Democrats announced today they will waive the proposed fines against the 11 Senate Republicans who twice walked off the job during the 2019 session in order to deny the Senate a quorum.
"Stopping the work of the people by denying a quorum is unconscionable and undemocratic," Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said in a statement. "I hope our Republican colleagues now see that this is not a tactic that should ever be used again, and that they will work with us to prevent either party from walking off the job."
Democrats had proposed to fine each Republican senator $3,500—or $500 for every day of session they skipped—but today abandoned that idea.
Burdick said she will introduce a constitutional amendment in the short 2020 legislative session that would reduce the number of members required in each chamber from the current two-thirds to a simple majority. (There are 30 members in the Senate and 60 in the House).
If voters were to approve that proposed amendment, it would bring Oregon in line with most states. Burdick said that all but three states currently require a simple majority to conduct legislative business.
In her statement, Burdick termed the decision not to press for payment of the fines was "difficult" but a better option than what she feared could be long and costly litigation.
"The 2019 Legislative Session is over," Burdick said. "It's time for us to focus on Oregon's priorities for 2020 and beyond."