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Oregon House GOP leader accuses top Democrats of ‘silencing democracy’

Oregon Capitol
KTVZ file

(Update: Adding House majority leader's reaction)

Says they allowed no motions for amending eviction moratorium bill

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, on Tuesday accused Democratic House leaders of an "unprecedented silencing of ideas" during Monday's third special session of the year.

Here's her full statement:

“The destruction of property and violence during protests under the banner of any cause is unacceptable and must end. But, while state troopers defended the Capitol building from violence at our door, Democrats were attacking our legislative process from within. 

"In an unprecedented, surprise move, Democrat leadership refused to allow any motions to adopt amendments to the eviction moratorium bill.

"To be clear, other legislation was amended in committee, but this legislation stood alone—there would be no motions made or accepted to amend. The votes were theirs—Democrat leaders control it all. But in this special session, it was not enough to control outcomes. They chose to silence ideas. 

"As Oregonians who were locked out of the building, protested and demanded their rightful place in the halls of government, Democrat leaders locked the minority party out of the lawmaking process inside the building.

"We came to the Capitol to pass meaningful and productive legislation for hardworking and hurting Oregonians. Communities ravaged by wildfires, small businesses, schools, renters and housing providers needed help and we responded with bipartisan support. We continued funding for Oregon’s COVID response and provided critical COVID liability protections for our schools—a key step to safely reopening to in-person learning.

"But the people of Oregon cannot continue to pay the price, with a closed Capitol, closed meetings and backroom deals. This must end.

"The Legislature must be responsive, transparent and accessible. We have more work to do for Oregonians and they must be at the table. It is their right to fully participate. It is their right to come to the Capitol to stand on their principles and through testimony or protest, challenge the status quo and change the course of our state. 

"The secrecy, the backroom deals and the suppression of public participation and minority party input must not and cannot continue in the 2021 Legislative Session.

"I hope Speaker Kotek and President Courtney will renew their commitment to a transparent and accessible Legislature as we work to support Oregonians next year. The Legislature is the people’s branch, and it’s time it started operating that way.”

State Rep. and House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner called Drazan's statement "deeply disappointing."

"After weeks of bipartisan cooperation and many hours of public testimony, it's stunning to have Legislative Democrats equated to violent right-wing extremists," the Portland Democrat said in a tweet. "This crisis requires us to build bridges, not burn them."

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