The Oregon secretary of state said this week that Republican state lawmakers who staged a six-week strike to obstruct the advancement of pro-abortion legislation will be prohibited from running for reelection.
Democratic Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade claimed in a news statement on Tuesday that she was only upholding Measure 113, a law passed in 2022 that forbids lawmakers with more than 10 unexcused absences from legislative sessions from running for reelection.
“My decision honors the voters’ intent by enforcing the measure the way it was commonly understood when Oregonians added it to our state constitution,” Griffin-Valade said.
NEW: Sec. of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade makes official her position that lawmakers who walked away this year cannot run in next year’s election, per Measure 113. Expect a lawsuit. #orleg #orpol pic.twitter.com/qDjLZ0Umwb
— Dirk VanderHart (@dirquez) August 8, 2023
Republicans are outraged by the decision, and state senators Tim Knopp and Brian Boquist have written Griffin-Valade’s office to ask her to reconsider.
The letter says the absence of the GOP lawmakers was “a parliamentary strategy to prevent the passage of certain legislative proposals and for reasons they consider existential.”
“This parliamentary strategy has been employed many times in the past by members of both parties and in numerous states.”
Such walkouts, according to the letter, “involve expressive acts which are protected political speech.”
The Republicans also draw attention to the text in Measure 113 that suggests they should still be able to vote in the election of 2024.
According to the amendment, parliamentarians who commit offenses are ineligible to serve in office “for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”
The legislators claim that under Measure 113, they would only lose their eligibility for office after the 2028 election because their terms expire on January 14, 2025.
Griffin-Valade’s office responded to those claims in the news release.
“The Secretary found no suggestion prior to enactment — in the voters’ pamphlet, media, or otherwise — that the measure was understood or intended to allow absent legislators to serve an additional term after accumulating too many absences, and then be disqualified the term after that.”
The protest was organized by the ten Republicans and one independent to obstruct the Democratic agenda beginning in May.
According to ABC News, lawmakers opposed policies that supported abortion, transgenderism, and gun control.
Before they were able to get Democratic concessions on those matters, their walkout set a record for the lengthiest in Oregon history.