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Oregon House back on track after 2 Republicans break rank

By SARAH ZIMMERMANMay 29, 2019

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A GOP stalling tactic to slow progress on Oregon House Democrat’s platform came to an end Wednesday after two Republicans broke party lines, saying it’s time to “face the music of a supermajority.”

Reps. Bill Post and Mike Nearman joined House Democrats Wednesday in voting to suspend the requirement that all legislation be read from start to finish. That gave the chamber, overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, the votes needed to end a month-long stalling tactic that required that hundreds of pages of legislation be read aloud.

Post, from Keizer, said that he and Nearman are still “principled conservative Republicans,” but that the stalling tactic wasn’t productive with only four weeks left in the legislative session.

Democrats had already pushed through many of their main priorities, said Post, including a $1 billion school funding package dependent on a half a percent tax on some businesses.

“I think we’re all ready to vote and go home,” he said. “It’s time to move on and face the music of a supermajority.”

There are approximately four weeks left in session and Democrats still have a hefty to-do list including finishing up the state’s two-year budget and approving the nation’s second economy wide cap-and-trade program.

It’s customary to waive the requirement that bills be read in full, a move that needs approval by two-thirds of the House. But conservatives, upset with a long list of Democrat priorities including the new tax on business, moved that the rule be enforced and that clerks read the full measure before members take a vote.

Over 85 bills totaling 461 pages have been read since May 1. The chief clerk of the House said he can’t remember another time legislation has been forced to read in full for this long.

The stalemate slowed House business to a crawl for nearly three weeks, leading to a backlog of more than a hundred bills. To compensate, House Speaker Tina Kotek began scheduling multiple hours-long floor sessions a day, including sessions in the evenings and on weekends.

House Majority Leader Carol Wilson said in a statement that Republicans “have negotiated in good faith with Speaker Kotek and continue to seek a reasonable, commonsense resolution that will improve bills that in present form would hurt Oregon’s working families.”

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Follow Sarah Zimmerman on Twitter at @sarahzimm95

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