On May 15, three senators involved with the walkout—Daniel Bonham (R), Dennis Linthicum (R), and Brian Boquist (I)—accrued their 10th unexcused absences, a threshold making them ineligible to be re-elected to a subsequent term under Measure 113, a ballot measure Oregon voters approved in 2022.
The walkout began on May 3 when all but two members of the Republican Senate caucus were absent from the legislative session preventing a quorum. Democrats control the chamber with a 17-12-1 partisan breakdown with Republicans and one independent in the minority. Legislators need two-thirds of the chamber present for a quorum amounting to 20 senators.
The topics being considered at the time of the walkout were abortion, firearms, and gender-affirming care, which legislation defined as treatments that healthcare providers prescribe “to treat an individual for incongruence between the individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex assignment at birth.” Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D) said Republicans walked out because of the content of the bills. “It is no coincidence that Republicans are employing these embarrassing antics as the Senate is about to vote on bills that protect reproductive health freedom and establish common sense gun safety laws,” she said.
Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R) said Democrats broke chamber rules related to the plain wording of bills. “When the majority of bill summaries written demand a post-graduate degree to understand what the bills do, we disenfranchise Oregonians across the state and violate the law in the process,” he said.
Measure 113 was approved in November 2022 with 68% of the vote. The citizen-initiated measure amended the Oregon Constitution to disqualify state legislators from re-election following the end of their term if they are absent from 10 legislative floor sessions without permission or excuse. The 10 absences would be deemed disorderly behavior according to the constitution. This applied to both legislative attendance during regular and special legislative sessions.
Prior to 2023, Ballotpedia tracked five noteworthy legislative walkouts in Oregon, where legislators left the state for at least a week or received significant national media attention. The legislative walkouts occurred in 2001, 2019, 2020, and 2021.