Oregon lawmakers are busy with their legislative session but are keeping an eye on an issue that will not be resolved by the time the Legislature adjourns in June: redistricting.
While the Legislature is tasked with redrawing the lines for legislative districts and Congressional Districts, there is a growing call for creation of a independent commission to redraw the lines, which is done after every census. So far there is no move to create an outside panel, although there are lawmakers pushing the idea.
“It is the best way,” said Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, who represents House District 59 the western end of Senate District 30. A poll showed that the majority of Democrats in the state support an independent commission to redraw district boundaries. It is used in 26 other states, he said.
Bonham was participating in the monthly joint virtual town hall Wednesday conducted with Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, who represents House District 60, the large eastern end of Senate District 30.
Bonham recounted how the Republican minority used a forced slow-down of reading of bills on the Senate bill to gain a concession from the majority Democrats concerning membership of the Senate redistricting committee. The GOP lawmakers forced the reading of bill, the third time, in their entirety rather than by title only as is usually the case. That slowed the bills on their final reading and a vote down to a crawl until an agreement was reached.
The agreement was that there would be an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the redistricting committee for the Senate, Bonham said, and while some people have questioned the wisdom of using their leverage that, he stood by the decision, adding time would tell.
“I think it was the right thing to do,” Bonham said.
Census data used for redistricting was not expected out until later in the fall, but could be available as soon as August, Bonham said.
During Wednesday’s session, Findley was asked why he and other Republicans did not walk out of the Senate during the debate on Senate 554 that allow concealed weapons to be banned from some public buildings, as they had walked during the carbon reduction debate.
Findley said the carbon reduction bill had an emergency clause which would have put the bill into effect immediately upon passage, leaving no time or opportunity to fight it further.
As introduced in the Senate, SB 554 did not have an emergency clause and there were opportunities to oppose it, Findley said. However, since being moved to the House, SB554 has been merged with a bill requiring that guns/triggers be secured and the emergency clause had been added. Findley said Republicans, opposing the bill, will try to move the clause removed.
Later, Bonbam took some of time to rebuke those people who were always calling these lawmakers about bills they did not like, but never called lawmakers on the other side.
Bonham said one lawmaker had told him he had not received any protest about one of his bills, while Bonham had received many calls and emails about its.
Bonham said people should be contacting sponsors of bills they don’t like.
Findley encouraged people to be polite and respectful when they call, leave a message or email.