SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon House of Representatives will begin holding Saturday floor sessions next week.
Speaker Tina Kotek made that announcement Wednesday in the latest sign lawmakers are ramping up with an eye toward the Constitutional session deadline five weeks away.
“Because of the need to continue to move bills on the floor, I ask you to hold your Saturdays through the month of June, starting June 1. We will do 10 a.m. floors on Saturdays,” Kotek, D-Portland, announced on the House floor.
“I don’t know how long they will last; it will be dependent on where the calendar is,” she said. “But we are getting close to the end of session and sine die is imminent.”
The Statesman Journal reports that while legislative leadership hopes to end session by June 21, nine days ahead of their Constitutional deadline, the House is grappling with a massive backlog of bills ready to receive a vote.
It’s the byproduct of a slowdown tactic deployed by House Republicans for more than three weeks. Democrats control both the House and Senate.
House Republican Leader Carl Wilson said Wednesday that Republicans will continue their tactic of requiring bills to be read in full. This was popularized during the 2016 session and slows down the legislative process considerable, particularly when lengthy bills come to the floor.
The bill that sparked Republican protest was the $2 billion education funding bill, which was engrossed at 40 pages. It took the clerk more than 2 hours to read it.
Wilson said Republican and Democratic leadership have been in negotiations about the future of a number of bills that Republicans want to influence. At the top of their list are HB 2020 — the major greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill — and HB 2007 — which deals with reducing diesel emissions.
“Much of it comes just from a need to exert some kind of control in our political lives. Any time it’s 38-22, you’re in the superminority here in the chamber, you have no real impact on anything unless all currents are flowing your way on a good day,” Wilson said.
“So, this at least gives us a feeling of some self-determination and an ability to affect the process,” he said.