Oregon Senate leaders meet but legislative boycott continues

By Lauren Dake (OPB)
May 10, 2023 9:08 p.m. Updated: May 11, 2023 2:22 p.m.

The Republican boycott of the 2023 legislative session stretched into its eighth day Wednesday.

Oregon state senators gathered in the upper chamber on Wednesday.

They prayed. They extended courtesies to constituents. And following Senate rules, they took a moment to ostensibly check the state Capitol for their missing Republican colleagues.


Finding none, Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, announced from the dais “a quorum is not present.”

The Republican boycott of the 2023 legislative session has now stretched into its eighth day.

There was one difference on Wednesday, marking a slight change in the otherwise monotonous rhythm of the latest walkout.

The leaders of both parties met for the first time behind closed doors early Wednesday morning.

They managed to agree on one thing: releasing a bland (but surprisingly difficult-to-read, according to the Flesch Kincaid calculator) statement with a promise to say nothing more.


“We met, we had a conversation, we are planning on additional conversations,” the statement reads.

State Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, in session at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, March 20, 2023.

State Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, in session at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, March 20, 2023.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

For the eighth consecutive day, most Republicans and one Independent senator were absent from the floor. Denying Democrats a 20-member quorum effectively stops their ability to pass laws.

Senate Republicans kicked off their boycott on May 3, arguing Democratic leaders had been refusing to follow a legal process for passing bills and were pushing bills that were too extreme. The GOP is calling on Democrats to follow a law that requires bill summaries to be written at an eighth-grade reading level. The latest strategy is a move to try to water down or kill bills that would expand abortion protections.

Last year, voters approved a law blocking lawmakers from running for reelection if they accrue 10 or more unexcused absences. A handful of lawmakers participating in the boycott could hit 10 absences by Friday.

Voters believed Ballot Measure 113 would stop Republicans from leaving the Capitol for extended periods of time. But GOP lawmakers have said they are willing to test the new law in court.

Advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, gun safety, housing and reproductive rights are planning a rally later this week urging Republicans to return to the state Capitol.

The 2023 legislative session is expected to adjourn by June 25, and legislators need to pass a new two-year state budget.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Rob Wagner’s title. He is the Senate president. OPB regrets the error.