Eleven Republican senators have continued their walkout protest that is in its eight-consecutive day. Meanwhile, hundreds of loggers, farmers and ranchers assembled on the Capital steps on June 27. They were protesting a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill and showing their support for the missing Republican senators.
It was one of the biggest rallies of the 2019 legislative session. There were flags, signs and songs, along with a continuous flow of semi-trucks, pickups and farm equipment that surrounded the Capital for several hours.
Traffic blocked many streets as several large rigs from throughout the state showed up during the morning commute.
Inside the capital, 18 Democrats met once again for a floor session, not expecting their Republican colleagues to arrive.
The Democrats have the supermajority, with 18 members, but they must have two Republican senators in order to reach a quorum of 20. A two-thirds quorum is necessary to do any business.
Even if the Senate acquires enough members before adornment on June 30, they will still have to come up with a solution about House Bill 2020, the greenhouse gas emissions bill. This is true regardless of what Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said on Tuesday. He said that the bill lacked the votes to pass the Senate, and “that will not change,” as reported by the Statesman Journal.
Nevertheless, because of where HB 2020 is in the legislative process, it is essential that the Senate has an up-or-down vote on the bill. It’s either that or have a vote to send it back to committee.
Republicans want it to be guaranteed that the bill really doesn’t have the votes to pass. Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, trusts Courtney, according to legislative staff, but there is prevalent suspicion in his caucus of Democrats, now that the end of the contentious session is nearing.
Not all Democrats in the caucus are agreed on how they want to continue. Some have declared that they are not letting go of HB 2020, causing anxiety among Republicans.
Citizens from across Oregon rallied in support of the Republican senators. Some of them trekked nearly three hours Thursday morning. They stood in the rain, some wearing hard hats or holding American flags. Almost all of them had signs with phrases on them such as “rural lives matter,” “make Oregon ours again” and “they walked for me,” referencing the Senate Republicans.
Hunter Nash said that he came to Salem because, as a 6th-generation logger, he believes HB 2020 would wipe out his livelihood. Every one of his vehicles run on diesel.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the Oregon Eleven,” Nash told the Statesman Journal, referring to the absent Republican senators. “They are definitely representing me and all of the people here.”
Speakers spoke to the crowd, saying that HB 2020 would not help alleviate climate change at all, and that it would take away their jobs. Those that promote the bill admit that by itself it would have an insignificant impact on global carbon emissions.
“Those of us who make a living from the land are the best environmental stewards there are,” Marie Bowers, a 5th-generation farmer, said. She got a loud response from the crowd. “Those who work outside are more in touch with the climate that those who legislate the climate.”
Many House Republicans said that after trying and failing to amend the bill to support rural Oregonians, they were pleased that Republican senators took action to stop it.
After six hours of debate on the floor on June 17, the HB 2020 bill passed the House of Representatives. The bill has acquired more than 120 suggested amendments.
“Both chambers fought this in different ways,” House Republican Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, said during the rally. “There are people who have a greatly different vision of how Oregon should look. Their vision would take away your jobs. It already has and it will.”
If the Republican senators fail to return, about 125 budget and policy bills will die after June 30.
Negotiations to convince the Republicans to return to the capital are still in progress between Baertschiger, Courtney and Gov. Kate Brown.
Read the full story here.
Hunter Nash sits in front of the Oregon State Capital.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a pro-life bill on May 24 that protects babies in the womb after eight weeks of pregnancy.
“By signing this bill today, we are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn,” Parson said in a statement, as reported by U.S. News. “All life has value and is worth protecting.”
Earlier in May, Parson signed House Bill 126, the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” after it passed the state Senate and the House. Several similar bills have been passed recently that protect unborn babies after a heartbeat is detected, such as in Alabama and Georgia.
This Missouri bill protects the unborn after eight weeks of pregnancy, allowing exceptions for medical emergencies, such as averting the death or permanent physical impairment of the pregnant woman.
Like the law passed in Alabama, Missouri’s bill also protects babies conceived from rape or incest. Anybody who performs or induces an abortion will be considered guilty of a class B felony and could face five to 15 years in prison.
The bill also protects unborn children that have a diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome. In addition, unborn babies would be protected from abortion if their parent does not approve of their sex.
The bill comes with a provision that would eradicate abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Missouri is the eighth state to pass a “heartbeat” law regarding abortion in 2019, as reported by Jurist.
To read U.S. News’s story on this topic click here.
To read the Jurist’s story on this topic click here.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed a controversial abortion bill on May 15 that may have the ability to penalize doctors who conduct abortions with life in prison.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement, as reported by CNN. “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
The bill was approved 24-6 by the Alabama Senate on Tuesday, May 14. The law’s only allowances include “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the child in the womb has “a lethal anomaly,” as told by CNN. Democrats attempted an amendment to exclude cases such as rape and incest victims, but the motion was not successful, with an 11-21 vote.
Ivey mentioned in her statement that this law may be difficult to enforce because of the Supreme Court’s case, Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in every American state. The intention of this new law was to challenge Roe v. Wade, Ivey said.
“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable,” Ivey wrote. “As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
Alabama is now at the forefront of passing measures to protect unborn babies. Georgia’s Gov. Kemp recently signed a pro-life protection bill, you can read about it here.
Read more about this story here.
Two bills passed unanimously during Oregon’s 2017 legislative session that will help significantly to raise awareness for and accommodate disabled citizens. Both were sponsored by State Representative Cedric Hayden.
The first bill, House Bill 2591, moved to designate May as the awareness month for Williams Syndrome, which is a rare genetic condition present at birth that is characterized by numerous medical problems, particularly cardiovascular issues, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.
Representative Hayden, who is currently raising his six-year-old daughter with Williams Syndrome, was motivated to introduce the bill because of his personal experience with the disability. He stated that he hoped appointing May as Williams Syndrome Awareness Month would promote medical and fundraiser awareness for the genetic disorder. The other benefit to the bill he noted is that it could help parents identify the disorder in their children earlier and take the appropriate steps for helping their children deal with this disorder.
The other bill, House Bill 3029, allows for parents or legal guardians to postpone for one year the enrollment of their child in public school if the child’s sixth birthday occurs on or before September 1st. Hayden’s daughter, who is delayed around 24-36 months physically and cognitively like many other disabled children, was forced to go to public school at the age of six. The school held her back in kindergarten another year as a result, which Hayden says naturally caused emotional stress for her and the family.
Many parents with children who have cognitive disabilities (Autism, Down Syndrome, etc) have run into similar problems as Hayden. House Bill 3029 addresses exactly that issue by allowing the parents to delay a child’s education to better accommodate his or her cognitive ability. The decision is purely up to the parents without interference from the school board.
After months of scrutiny by the public and the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, Marion County Judge Vance Day maintains that he was denied his First Amendment rights by being charged with violating the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct. Now the commission is seeking additional money from the Oregon Legislature to pay for the expenses of this highly controversial religious liberty case.
Judge Day was brought under investigation by the commission last year because of complaints about his refusal to perform marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples. Not wanting to make a public statement about his choice, Day had initially been referring couples to other judges to perform such ceremonies. In the state of Oregon, judges do have the right to not perform marriage ceremonies, yet problems arose from those offended by his religious convictions. He later made the decision to refrain from carrying out any marriage ceremonies at all.
On January 25th, the commission recommended that Day be removed from the bench. The Oregon Supreme Court is expected to hear testimony about his case in June.
On Wednesday, members of the Commission appeared before the Joint Sub Committee on Public Safety in the Oregon Legislature to request more funds for what they refer to as “extraordinary expenses.” They requested an extra $172,000 to cover the costs of investigation and assisting in the prosecution of Judge Day. The sub-committee granted the request, which will be rolled into the 2016 session budget reconciliation bill which has yet to pass out of the Legislature.
The commission presented a list of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct that Judge Day had been found guilty of. These included his solicitations of funds for the non-profit Partnership for Veterans at Risk to display war memorabilia in the courthouse. This display included an original painting of Adolf Hitler, among other items, which some deemed offensive, though it was part of a World War Two memorial.
Aside from these complaints, the most public issue was Judge Day’s views of same-sex marriage. While the commission voted that he be removed from his position, Judge Day has confirmed that he will fight to remain on the bench and maintain his constitutional religious rights.
“Judge Day has not discriminated against anybody,” said Kevin Mannix, a Salem area attorney and friend of Day. “…Across the board he’s simply said ‘I’m not performing wedding ceremonies’.”
Discussing the problem of when constitutional rights come in conflict with one another, Judge Day said in an interview, “What are we going to do with judges like myself who have a firmly held religious belief, whatever area? Whether they be of a Judeo-Christian viewpoint, Muslim viewpoint…a Hindu viewpoint. Do those firmly held religious beliefs somehow…deserve a lesser species of protection? I don’t think so.”