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Full statement by Oregon secretary of state on M. 113 decision, reaction by Senate GOP Leader Tim Knopp of Bend

KTVZ file

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon's secretary of state announced Tuesday that Republican lawmakers who stayed away from the Capitol for several days during the recent legislative session won't be allowed to file for re-election next year, due to Measure 113, and Senate GOP Leader Tim Knopp of Bend quickly vowed a court challenge to that decision.

Here's the full statement from Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade and the response from Oregon Senate Republicans:

Legislators Disqualified Under Measure 113 Will Not Be Allowed to File to Run in 2024

Salem, OR – Today, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade directed the Oregon Elections Division to implement an administrative rule, providing guidance to candidates on Measure 113. The rule clarifies that Measure 113 disqualifies legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences during the 2023 legislative session from running for legislative seats in the 2024 election. This interpretation is consistent with legal advice provided to the Secretary of State by the Oregon Department of Justice.

“It is clear voters intended Measure 113 to disqualify legislators from running for reelection if they had 10 or more unexcused absences in a legislative session,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “My decision honors the voters’ intent by enforcing the measure the way it was commonly understood when Oregonians added it to our state constitution.”

Measure 113 states that 10 or more unexcused absences “shall disqualify the member from holding office as a Senator or Representative for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.” Some have suggested this language means a Senator who accumulated disqualifying absences in 2023 would be able to run in 2024 but be prohibited from running in 2028.

The courts, however, have emphasized that the text of adopted ballot measures must be interpreted in a way that is consistent with the voters’ intent. And voters universally understood Measure 113 would prohibit legislators who accumulate 10 or more unexcused absences during a legislative session from holding office in the immediate next term.

There are numerous materials supporting this interpretation. For example, the explanatory statement for Measure 113 in the voters’ pamphlet says the Measure disqualifies the legislator “from holding term of office after the legislator’s current term ends.” The Ballot Title states the Measure disqualifies the legislator from holding the “next term of office.” The Result of a “Yes” vote statement similarly provides that the legislator is disqualified from holding the “term following current term of office.”

Contemporaneous news reports are also consistent. For example, the Oregonian wrote on November 8, 2022 that legislators who run afoul of the measure “will be disallowed from serving in the Legislature during the subsequent term.” Similarly, the Lebanon Local News wrote in all caps that the measure would “BAN LEGISLATORS WITH 10 UNEXCUSED ABSENCES FROM SERVING NEXT TERM.” Arguments from the measure’s proponents also support this reading.

The Secretary found no suggestion prior to enactment – in the voters’ pamphlet, media, or otherwise – that the measure was understood or intended to allow absent legislators to serve an additional term after accumulating too many absences, and then be disqualified the term after that.

Voters intended the measure to prohibit legislators from holding the next term in office, and the Secretary has chosen to uphold the voters’ intent and apply Measure 113 to the 2024 election.

Senate Republicans to Challenge SOS on Measure 113

SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon Secretary of State announced that she has directed the Oregon Elections Division to implement an administrative rule restricting access for members of the minority to run for office on arbitrary, capricious, and retaliatory unexcused absences assigned to members by Senate President Rob Wagner. The rule states that legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences are barred from appearing on the 2024 ballot. The Senate President has sole authority in determining whether an absence is unexcused and does not need to give any form of explanation.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) released the following statement:

“After repeated unlawful and unconstitutional actions by President Rob Wagner and other Democrat leaders in the 2023 Session, Senate Republicans held them accountable by peacefully pausing the session to gain compliance with Senate Rules, Oregon Law, and the Oregon Constitution. In retaliation, Wagner was quick to impose unexcused absences on members who challenged his failed leadership.

It appears the Democrat Attorney General and the Democrat Secretary of State are willing to cover for the Democrat Senate President Rob Wagner’s decision to ensure Measure 113 quashes the free speech of minority Senate Republicans as it was designed to do by political special interests.

We believe the plain language of Measure 113 allows for members to run again in 2024 elections. We disagree with the Secretary of State’s determination and will challenge it in court.”

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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