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SPEAKER MINNIS REWRITES RULES OF DEMOCRACY

In a second Mid-Day Massacre on fairness for all Oregonians, Speaker of the House Karen Minnis rewrote the rules of Democracy in Oregon, cementing her supreme rule over the Oregon House of Representatives and blocking a potential House vote on civil unions and anti-discrimination legislation.

What she did was strike down a 140-year old rule called a “withdrawal motion.” This rule is part of the checks and balances of power that are supposed to prevent one person from having absolute power over the House of Representatives, by allowing a majority of members to extract a bill from committee and bring it to the House floor for an up or down vote, even if the speaker doesn’t agree or the committee hasn’t approved the bill. She did that explicitly because she was afraid the House would do that with our new civil union/antidiscrimination bill—HB 3508--against her wishes.  Now she, and only she, has the power to decide what comes out of committee to the floor for a vote.  It’s a complete abuse of power, anti-democratic, and all Oregonians should be worried about the fact that one person has that much power in her hands.

This move comes just one day before the Speaker is required to assign HB 3508, the newest effort at enacting civil unions and antidiscrimination laws, to a House Committee. Once in committee, under the standard House rules, legislators could have --by majority vote -- extracted the bill from committee (bypassing the need for committee approval or the approval of the Speaker) and allow an up or down vote on the bill on the House floor.

As a result of the Speaker's outrageous move, such options are banned for the remainder of the legislative session. The rule of the Speaker now outweighs even a majority of lawmakers.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle decried the maneuver as an abuse of power:

"This move flies in the face of the will of the majority and standard parlimentary rule," said Representative Steve March (D-Portland). "This is a tyranny move and I oppose such a move. It is not appropriate to do this."

"I want to note my concern about this rule change. I am very sorry that it had to come to this," Representative Billy Dalto (R-Salem)

Represenative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland): "This is an absolute outrage and a pure affront to the rule of the majority and the minority. As it stands now, the leadership of the House has absolute ability to stop any bill or any vote from happening."


The rewriting of the rules is a done deal, but don't let this brazen disregard for democratic principles go unnoticed!

First, tell your lawmakers to take a stand against Minnis's political ploys! Click here to find your legislator and call now!

Next, send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. For letter-writing tips and contact information for your local paper, click here!
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