Gov. Brown signs legislation hours later
By SARA CLINE
Associated Press/Report for America
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Despite a threat to block new political maps, Republican state lawmakers returned to the Oregon Capitol on Monday as the Legislature passed -- on party-line votes -- boundaries that included a new, sixth U.S. House seat. Gov. Kate Brown signed the legislation hours later.
The congressional map, which House Republicans say is unfair and boycotted on Saturday by staging a walkout, passed in the House and Senate on party-line votes. Democrats hold majorities in the Oregon Statehouse.
Monday was the deadline for the Legislature to pass the new U.S. House districts, or the task would have gone to a panel of retired judges.
The new map includes four U.S. House seats that either are safe Democratic or lean in the party’s favor, one reliably blue seat and one seat that could be a toss-up. Republicans believe the proposed boundaries will likely result in the Democrats obtaining five of the U.S. House seats to the GOP’s one.
One seat that could be in play is held by moderate Democratic U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader, who has served as the the U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District southwest of Portland since 2009.
That new congressional map puts the newest congressional district south of Portland and mostly east of Interstate 5, same as in a previous plan. But it makes several changes to previously proposed borders of the other congressional districts, including keeping Portland and Bend in separate districts instead of combining.
The contentious redistricting year has been marked by a broken power-sharing deal, the lingering possibility of a Republican walkout and a COVID-19 case that paused the House floor session ahead of a tight deadline.
Stakes were high for both the GOP and and Democrats for redistricting — a once-a-decade process that determines how voters pick state representatives, state senators and members of Congress for the next five election cycles.
While the Senate swiftly passed legislative and congressional maps — without Republican support — last week, the House came to a standstill due to an even split on the redistricting committee.
During the 2021 legislative session, House Democrats gave up a powerful advantage. In exchange for the Republicans agreeing to stop blocking bills with delay tactics, House Speaker Tina Kotek agreed to share redistricting power with the GOP — essentially granting veto power to the minority party over what the six congressional districts and the state’s 90 legislative districts will look like.
But last week, Kotek voided that power-sharing deal, saying she was “disappointed that after many months of work, House Republicans did not engage constructively despite many attempts to address their concerns.”
Democrats accused Republicans of proposing last minute maps that were “highly gerrymandered’ - the manipulation of electoral district boundaries to win an unfair political advantage.
With Democrats having the majority on the new congressional redistricting committee and in the Legislature, it paved the way for them to pass maps they choose. However, Republicans had one remaining tool to block maps — a walkout, denying the House quorum to vote.
Quorum rules say there must be two-thirds of lawmakers - 40 representatives on the House floor – for votes to take place. Oregon is one of the few states that require two-thirds of lawmakers to be present for any work to be done, instead of a simple majority.
On Saturday Republicans in the Oregon House failed to show up for a floor session, upset Kotek earlier had rescinded the power-sharing deal and frustrated about the now-passed map.
Republicans returned Monday, the deadline to pass redistricting maps. Enough GOP lawmakers returned to the House floor to achieve a quorum required to vote. With the Republican reverse, the new congressional map passed through the Legislature. The bill must be signed by Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, by midnight.
The maps and details can be found at: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting
News release from Gov. Kate Brown:
Governor Kate Brown Signs Redistricting Bills
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement after signing the redistricting bills passed by the Oregon Legislature today:
“The right to vote is sacred. In Oregon, we know that every vote matters because every voice matters in our electoral process. I’d like to thank the Legislature for coming together, through adversity, to pass legislation for redistricting. We do not always all agree, but when we find common ground, we can work together to do what is best for Oregon.
“For the first time in forty years, Oregon is gaining a congressional seat––another delegation member to advocate for the common good of all Oregonians. After the past year and a half, during which Oregonians have faced unprecedented challenges that have urgently required federal attention and resources, I am particularly grateful that the Legislature has come together to pass today’s historic legislation.
“My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.”
Earlier this month, Governor Brown called the Legislature into a special legislative session in order to adopt new congressional and legislative maps. The Oregon Constitution directs the Legislature to reapportion legislative districts every ten years, following the U.S. Census.
According to the Oregon Supreme Court’s recent decision in State ex rel Kotek v. Fagan and Senate Bill 259 (2021), the deadline for the Legislature to complete redistricting plans for state legislative districts and federal congressional districts is Monday, September 27, 2021.
From House and Senate Democrats:
|Oregon Legislature Passes Congressional and Legislative Maps|
|SALEM, OR – Today, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 881, which creates six new congressional districts, and Senate Bill 882, which creates Oregon’s new state legislative districts. Following the bills’ passage, the Legislature closed the 2021 Special Session to address redistricting.|
This is the third time since 1911 that the Legislature has succeeded in passing electoral maps.
"These maps are fair, representative, meet the highest of legal standards and incorporate feedback we heard from Oregonians across the state," said Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), co-chair of the House Committee on Redistricting. "We followed the Census data to protect the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote."
“I appreciate the work of my colleagues in the Legislature to get where we are today,” said Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland). “Each district in these bills was carefully designed to ensure compliance with Oregon’s redistricting standards and ensure that communities across Oregon will have strong and accurate representation in the Oregon Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives."
Oregon received a sixth Congressional District following 10.6% growth from 2010 to 2020, above the U.S. average of 7.4%. This is the first time in 40 years the state has gained a seat. Oregon ranks 11th nationally in population growth rate over the last decade.
"Despite the delay in Census data, a drastically shortened deadline, and an ongoing global pandemic, we delivered on an inclusive and accessible process with 22 hearings and almost 2,000 pieces of testimony from Oregonians who made their voices heard,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland).
“The Senate and House committees accomplished a tremendous task in the face of incredible and overlapping challenges,” said Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego). “Additionally, over the past year Oregonians have consistently shown up to share their perspectives and shape these fair and representative maps. I extend my sincere gratitude and I was thrilled to vote ‘yes’ on Senate Bills 881 and 882.”
Senate Bills 881 and 882 now head to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
House Speaker Tina Kotek issues statement on successful redistricting special session
SALEM – On Monday following the successful conclusion of the 2021 special session on redistricting, House Speaker Tina Kotek issued the following statement:
“My thanks to every Oregonian who took the time to make their voices heard throughout this process, and to the legislators who answered the call to get this job done for our state.
“Redistricting is always a complex task, and this time we faced more challenges than ever before. Interference from the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic led to major delays in the release of the census data used for redistricting, which left the legislature with a much shorter timeline to complete our Constitutional duty.
“Against some incredible odds, we got the job done for the people of Oregon.”
|Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan Congratulates Legislature’s Passage of Redistricting Bills|
|(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan today congratulated the Oregon Legislature for completing their work to pass redistricting for Oregon. “Congratulations to the Oregon Legislature for completing their Constitutional responsibility of redistricting of Oregon’s Congressional and Legislative districts.,” said Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. |
“With leadership and persistence, they came together and got this done for the people of Oregon.” Secretary Fagan also noted that her office was prepared to begin redistricting. "I'm extremely proud of the work my team did to prepare, in case the Legislature missed today’s deadline," said Secretary Fagan. “We’ve been working for months, reaching out to hundreds of community and civic organizations, culturally-based groups and others to lay the groundwork for a transparent public process. We also did a tremendous amount of work to set up our People’s Commission, infrastructure for public hearings and testimony, and an Oregonian-centered redistricting process.”
“I’m especially proud of the work we did to prepare the People’s Commission that would have reflected our growing population: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, people of color, rural, suburban, urban – all those who call our beloved Oregon home. I want to thank the Oregonians from every corner of our state for stepping up to serve their neighbors. We will continue to engage these civic-minded Oregonians in the years to come."
By the numbers:
760: Oregonians applied to be on the People’s Commission
145: People’s Commission applications from District 1
151: People’s Commission applications from District 2
125: People’s Commission applications from District 3
142: People’s Commission applications from District 4
188: People’s Commission applications from District 5
265: Organizations who received outreach from Kathy Wai, Redistricting Administrator
4: Languages other than English for which outreach materials were translated: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian
From Oregon House Republican Caucus:
House Republicans move to censure Representative Tina Kotek for disorderly behavior
SALEM, Ore. – House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) made a motion to censure Representative Tina Kotek (D-Portland) for disorderly behavior today on the House Floor related to Representative Kotek’s decision to break her word to fellow lawmakers in order to force partisan redistricting maps through the legislative body.
Leader Drazan included the following reasons for the motion during her floor remarks:
“With the events of this past week when she chose to cheat Oregonians and breach an agreement, Tina Kotek has exhibited disorderly conduct and must be censured by this body.
I would assert that those with power demand our highest standards and greatest commitment to accountability.
The inability of the Speaker of the House to keep her word, or conduct her affairs in the execution of her duties at the highest ethical standards affects our ability as a body to function.
If we cannot trust Tina Kotek’s word, if we cannot trust that what she says is true in her capacity as Speaker of the House, if she is allowed to reap the benefits of an agreement without the obligations it imposes, this House cannot function. She has impacted the ability of this body to operate as a fair law-making body.
Today I willingly face political reprisals and urge this body to exercise the power given to us to hold our members accountable for their conduct when it has grave and far reaching impacts.
We cannot silence the voices of the minority when they are inconvenient to the majority.”
The motion failed, with all present House Democrats voting to defend Representative Kotek’s decision to break her promise to Republicans and Oregonians in order to pass gerrymandered redistricting maps.
From Oregon House Republican Caucus:
Rigged redistricting process fails Oregon
SALEM, Ore. – House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement after passage of Democrats’ gerrymandered redistricting proposals.
“These partisan maps are a wake-up call for Oregonians. They know Democrats had to cheat to get these maps across the floor.
Democrats in Oregon have passed rigged political maps that will guarantee super-sized majorities in the legislature and immediate control of more than 80 percent of Oregon’s congressional seats. They should be ashamed that they have gerrymandered Oregonians out of their shot at fair elections for the next decade.
We had an opportunity to put aside politics in the interest of fair representation. The actions during this special session prove this was never the Democrats’ plan.
This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure 5 out of 6 seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.
Oregonians will only get the fair maps they deserve, free of partisan influence, by supporting an independent redistricting commission in the next election. Politicians should not be drawing their own political lines. If Oregonians believe we need fair redistricting, then they should overturn what resulted from this charade of a vote at the ballot box.”
Senate Republican Leader’s Statement on the Passage of Gerrymandered Congressional Redistricting Plan
SALEM, Ore. – Today, along partisan lines, the Senate concurred in House amendments on a congressional redistricting plan that seeks to cement Democrat dominance in Oregon for the next decade.
Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) released the following statement:
“The law requires us to keep communities of interest together in the redistricting process. The only community of interest this map seeks to keep together are Democrat voters. In no world does it make sense for Bend and Portland to be in the same district. Spreading out urban voters by having four districts that include portions of Portland is the very definition of gerrymandering.
“There will undoubtedly be court challenges to follow. The best the principles of fairness and honesty can hope for is impartiality.”
The Senate vote was 18-6, with all Republicans voting no. The plan now goes to the Governor for her signature.
From state Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond:
Democrat Redistricting Maps A Far Cry from Fair Representation
SALEM, Ore. – Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) released the following statement after opposing Democrats’ redistricting proposals.
“Redistricting maps from Salem Democrats deny Oregonian’s fair representation and fail to follow the criteria for establishing impartial maps.
These redistricting maps have a blatant disregard for keeping communities together; to such an extent, Redmond is split through the middle of town, and kids in the same school and neighborhood are in two completely different districts. In addition, Central Oregon, one of the fastest-growing communities, will have to share representation with Portland at the Federal level and compete with Portland for resources furthering the East-West political divide. We all know Portland took most of the money from the Cares Act while the rest of Oregon scrambled for the leftovers.
Oregon has diverse political affiliations, with many Oregonians being Non-affiliated, others Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Tragically these maps only represent one group and ensure success for their incumbents and those running for higher offices.
Oregonians still have an opportunity to pass fair maps free of political gerrymandering with an independent redistricting commission. If the people believe that the redistricting process should be taken out of the hands of lawmakers, then they should vote to overturn these maps at the ballot box.”
From Fair Maps Oregon:
|Statement Regarding End of Redistricting Special Session |
Salem, Ore. - Fair Maps Oregon, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Oregonians from gerrymandered political boundaries, issued the following statement upon the conclusion of the Legislature’s redistricting special session today:
“It’s clear from what took place over the past week that Speaker Kotek and her counterparts never had any intention of passing fair maps. They rigged the maps, then they rigged the process to force them through, and now Oregonians will be forced to suffer the consequences for years. Oregonians should be incensed at the blatant political gerrymandering that took place in their state Capitol.
“Though we are extremely disappointed with the Legislature’s inability to deliver fair maps, we appreciate that members of both parties publicly condemned the sham of a process that produced them. We look forward to supporting potential legal efforts that seek to address the obvious gerrymandering contained in the maps adopted today, as well as efforts to reform Oregon’s approach to redistricting in the near future.”
From the Republican National Committee:
“Democrats are disenfranchising thousands of voters and have proved to Oregonians that the only thing their party cares about is political power. Joe Biden, Eric Holder, and every other outspoken Democrat critic of gerrymandering should be joining Republicans in urging Governor Kate Brown to veto this map.” –RNC Spokesperson Keith Schipper