Oregon's Redistricting News
Statesman Journal: "Public
debates lines at hearing.
Time ran out on many of the speakers Saturday in Salem during the first hearing on Secretary of State Bill Bradburyís legislative redistricting plan.
Launching a series of 21 public hearings on the plan throughout Oregon, Bradbury placed a two-minute time limit on testimony, ìso everyone is guaranteed a chance to speak.î
About 80 people turned out for a 90-minute
session at the Salem Public Library. Thirty-six people offered
wide-ranging comments. Nancy Jackson of West Salem praised Bradbury for
ìdoing a splendid job.î But Irv Blake, also of West Salem, told the
secretary of state that he had ìviolated your trust of officeî and ìabused
the voters of this state.î
Although Bradbury invited everyone to submit written testimony for his consideration, the time limit clearly grated on some speakers.
Billy Ralto of Salem capped his remarks with a series of questions for Bradbury, then pressed him to respond. The secretary of state declined. ìNo, Iím not answering questions today,î he said. Bradbury added: ìI certainly would love to have a private conversation.î
Later, though, Bradbury reversed himself, saying that it would go against his policy to have private conversations concerning the politically sensitive redistricting plan.
ìThis is a very public process, but it
needs not to be a private process,î he said.
Several speakers expressed concerns about Bradburyís plan to put all of Keizer into a separate district, House District 31, that extends into Newberg in Yamhill County. Keizer and Newberg share little in common and should not be lumped into the same district, said Clarke Coburn of Keizer. ìI want proper representation,î he said.
Likewise, Glen Runge of Salem expressed his concerns about putting northeast Salem and Woodburn into House District 33. ìI think this plan was set up too fast,î he said. ìMore studies should be done.î
As proposed, the Salem-to-Woodburn seat would establish the stateís first heavily Hispanic legislative district. ìWe have nothing in common with them,î Runge said, referring to Woodburn residents.
Frank Garcia of Salem, director of the Oregon Latino Voter Registration Education Project, said he welcomed the proposed district. Hispanics represent Oregonís largest minority group, at 8 percent of the population, with the latest census figures showing that their numbers have grown by 144 percent to 275,000, Garcia said. Yet only one of the 90 members of the Legislature is Hispanic, Sen. Susan Castillo, D-Eugene.
ìWe are interested in ensuring that the Hispanic voting strength is not diluted,î Garcia said.
Bradbury, who traveled to Newport for a second hearing on Saturday, emphasized that the plan is still in draft form. His final version is due by mid-August.
Alan Gustafson can be reached at (503) 399-6709.
Democrats would boost their chances of capturing Salem-area House seats under the legislative redistricting plan proposed by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
Democrats would outnumber Republicans in two GOP-held House seats where Republicans have healthy voter-registration edges, according to a Republican Party computer analysis. GOP leaders fear that could imperil Republican control of the South and West Salem House seat held by Jackie Winters and the Woodburn seat held by Cliff Zauner.
The Salem area is critical to Democratic hopes of regaining House and Senate majorities lost in the 1990s, and for Republicans hoping to retain their lock on the Legislature.
Republicans hold all seven House seats serving Marion and Polk counties despite the areaís heavy share of state workers, union members and minorities, who traditionally cast Democratic votes. Democrats pin some of their dilemma on the 1991 redistricting plan by Bradburyís predecessor, Phil Keisling.
Redrawing of House and Senate districts comes every decade to reflect population shifts in the U.S. Census. The job fell to Bradbury when the Legislature and the governor failed to agree on new district lines.
Redistricting was the most explosive issue before the 2001 Legislature because a tweak of the lines here and there can mean a shift in majority control. The issue sparked a one-week walkout by House Democrats when Republicans tried to circumvent Gov. John Kitzhaber and enact their redistricting plan by resolution rather than a bill subject to veto.
While releasing his draft redistricting maps Monday, Bradbury said he ignored party registration and other political considerations. He pledged to listen to public testimony at upcoming hearings, then retool his maps in final form by mid-August. After that, they must withstand an expected court challenge.
The blame game
Just as Democrats blame the 1991 redistricting plan, in part, for their weak electoral performance in the 1990s, Republicans fear Bradbury is trying to help his fellow Democrats with his proposed maps.
ìThis is the most blatant partisan grab that Oregon has ever seen,î said Darryl Howard, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party. ìIt appears that what Bradbury did is take every competitive seat that he possibly could and drew the district lines so that a Democrat had the best opportunity to win.î
Bradbury has said he will not comment on the maps ó or respond to criticism ó except at public hearings.
In addition to the Winters and Zauner seats, four other GOP House seats would shift from a Republican registration edge to a Democratic advantage, the GOP analysis shows. Those are the seats held by representatives Cedric Hayden of Elmira, Bill Witt of Cedar Mill, Jim Hill of Hillsboro and Greg Smith of Heppner.
Registration data for Democratic House seats was not available Wednesday.
Democrats counter that they donít like much of Bradburyís plan either. At least three House Democrats could be forced from their seats or forced to move because of new boundaries suggested by Bradbury, and no Republicans would suffer such a fate.
Riding along the edge
In at least one case, a seat with a Democratic registration edge would shift to a Republican edge. Thatís the seat now held by Republican Janet Carlson of Salem.
ìI donít know that registration edge means as much as it used to,î said Rep. Dan Gardner, the Democratic Minority Leader from Portland. He ticked off several seats where Democrats and Republicans overcame registration disadvantages to win their races.
Both Winters and Zauner said the shifts in party strength would have no bearing on their plans to run next year. Zauner plans to seek re-election, while Winters plans to run for an open Senate seat.
Former Rep. Bryan Johnston, a Salem Democrat, said he also may seek an open Senate seat under the new boundaries.
Political power could shift in Salem-area House seats under the draft redistricting plan by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Democrats would gain a party-registration edge in two seats where Republicans have an advantage, and one seat would go from a slight Democratic edge to a solid Republican edge.
Steve Law can be
reached at (503) 399-6615.
The voting strength of Latinos in
Oregon would increase dramatically under a draft legislative redistricting
plan that Secretary of State Bill Bradbury released Monday.
Bradbury's plan would realign the
borders of Woodburn-dominated House District 38, which currently is 30
percent Hispanic, according to 2000 Census figures, to stretch from Salem
to Woodburn. That would make the district almost 40 percent Latino,
creating one of the largest single-minority-group districts in Oregon.
African Americans, meanwhile, would
make up 30 percent of a newly-drawn Northeast Portland district.
Bradbury's plan also would create a
new Washington County district toward the eastern side of the county in
the Aloha/Beaverton area. And in Central Oregon, Bend would lose
representation under a plan to keep the city within one district instead
of splitting it into two.
The draft is Bradbury's first
attempt at redrawing legislative district boundaries to reflect the past
decade's population changes. He will hold 21 public hearings to solicit
comments before creating a final plan by Aug. 15.
Bradbury said he expects his plan
to be challenged in court. By law, a final plan must be in place by Dec.
The job of redistricting fell to
Bradbury after Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed the Legislature's plans for
redrawing legislative boundaries.
Kitzhaber also vetoed the
Legislature's map for congressional redistricting, sending that plan to
the courts. Democrats and Republicans have sued in state court, saying the
state's five congressional districts are overpopulated in some areas and
underpopulated in others, violating the U.S. Constitution's "one person,
one vote" guarantee.
Bradbury emphasized Monday that he
had drawn a plan without the input of his fellow Democrats, a nod to
charges that he'd undertake the politically sensitive task with the main
goal of benefiting his own party. Redistricting, which will affect the
political landscape in Oregon for the next 10 years, already has sparked
one blowup -- a boycott of the Capitol by House Democrats, who were upset
when the Republican-controlled Legislature attempted to pass their plan
without the input of Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
"I know it's not a perfect plan,"
Bradbury said Tuesday. "The lines you see today are my lines. If the plan
needs to be changed, I'll change it. If I've made any mistakes, I'll fix
Republicans and Bradbury's fellow
Democrats couldn't say who would benefit more from his plan, although
Democrats said it appeared none of their incumbents would be hurt in the
Republican leaders, though,
objected to Bradbury's decision to extend a southern Oregon district
across the Cascade Mountains, a traditional dividing line for legislative
boundaries. In the mid-Willamette Valley, they said, the heavily Latino
district would dilute some Latino voting strength in Salem. And a
Keizer-area district shouldn't include Newberg, Republicans said.
"Through traditional political
boundaries like county lines and school districts, Keizer associates more
with the city of Salem," said House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood
Latino activists reacted to the
plan, saying they'd start recruiting candidates to run against Rep. Cliff
Zauner, R-Woodburn, who would represent the proposed heavily Latino
district. Activists objected to Zauner's efforts to end bilingual
education during the past legislative session.
The departure of Sen. Susan
Castillo, D-Eugene, who is being forced out because of term limits, leaves
the Legislature without a representative of Latino descent, the activists
said. The newly created district, combined with increased get-out-the-vote
efforts, gives Latinos a chance to fill the void left by Castillo's
"I think it's monumental. It will
leave a lasting legacy for Latino politics over the next decade," said
Frank Garcia Jr., executive director of the Oregon Latino Voter
Registration Education Project.
"The goal is to build a Latino
political culture in Oregon," Garcia said. "I think the Latino community
can feel really strong about rallying a Latino elected leader."
Suo of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
The voting strength of Latinos in Oregon would increase dramatically under a draft legislative redistricting plan that Secretary of State Bill Bradbury released Monday.
Bradbury's plan would realign the borders of Woodburn-dominated House District 38, which currently is 30 percent Hispanic, according to 2000 Census figures, to stretch from Salem to Woodburn. That would make the district almost 40 percent Latino, creating one of the largest single-minority-group districts in Oregon.
African Americans, meanwhile, would make up 30 percent of a newly-drawn Northeast Portland district.
Bradbury's plan also would create a new Washington County district toward the eastern side of the county in the Aloha/Beaverton area. And in Central Oregon, Bend would lose representation under a plan to keep the city within one district instead of splitting it into two.
The draft is Bradbury's first attempt at redrawing legislative district boundaries to reflect the past decade's population changes. He will hold 21 public hearings to solicit comments before creating a final plan by Aug. 15.
Bradbury said he expects his plan to be challenged in court. By law, a final plan must be in place by Dec. 15.
The job of redistricting fell to Bradbury after Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed the Legislature's plans for redrawing legislative boundaries.
Kitzhaber also vetoed the Legislature's map for congressional redistricting, sending that plan to the courts. Democrats and Republicans have sued in state court, saying the state's five congressional districts are overpopulated in some areas and underpopulated in others, violating the U.S. Constitution's "one person, one vote" guarantee.
Bradbury emphasized Monday that he had drawn a plan without the input of his fellow Democrats, a nod to charges that he'd undertake the politically sensitive task with the main goal of benefiting his own party. Redistricting, which will affect the political landscape in Oregon for the next 10 years, already has sparked one blowup -- a boycott of the Capitol by House Democrats, who were upset when the Republican-controlled Legislature attempted to pass their plan without the input of Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
"I know it's not a perfect plan," Bradbury said Tuesday. "The lines you see today are my lines. If the plan needs to be changed, I'll change it. If I've made any mistakes, I'll fix them."
Republicans and Bradbury's fellow Democrats couldn't say who would benefit more from his plan, although Democrats said it appeared none of their incumbents would be hurt in the 2002 elections.
Republican leaders, though, objected to Bradbury's decision to extend a southern Oregon district across the Cascade Mountains, a traditional dividing line for legislative boundaries. In the mid-Willamette Valley, they said, the heavily Latino district would dilute some Latino voting strength in Salem. And a Keizer-area district shouldn't include Newberg, Republicans said.
"Through traditional political boundaries like county lines and school districts, Keizer associates more with the city of Salem," said House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village.
Latino activists reacted to the plan, saying they'd start recruiting candidates to run against Rep. Cliff Zauner, R-Woodburn, who would represent the proposed heavily Latino district. Activists objected to Zauner's efforts to end bilingual education during the past legislative session.
The departure of Sen. Susan Castillo, D-Eugene, who is being forced out because of term limits, leaves the Legislature without a representative of Latino descent, the activists said. The newly created district, combined with increased get-out-the-vote efforts, gives Latinos a chance to fill the void left by Castillo's departure.
"I think it's monumental. It will leave a lasting legacy for Latino politics over the next decade," said Frank Garcia Jr., executive director of the Oregon Latino Voter Registration Education Project.
"The goal is to build a Latino political culture in Oregon," Garcia said. "I think the Latino community can feel really strong about rallying a Latino elected leader."
Suo of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
ìA war between two bald men fighting over a comb.î
Jorge Luis Borges, the celebrated Argentine poet and novelist, is credited with offering that succinct opinion of the Falkland Islands War, the 1982 mismatch between his homeland and Britain about a windy group of islands in the South Atlantic.
The same description could apply to last weekís standoff ó and walkout ó in the Oregon House of Representatives.
Republicans and Democrats say their fight was about such lofty principles as the Legislatureís right to pursue an untested idea, upholding the Oregon Constitution and the duties of elected office.
But last weekís battle actually was about political power ó who has it and who wants it. And it didnít matter who won the battle because the outcome of the larger legislative redistricting war was settled long ago.
Redistricting is required after every 10-year U.S. census to adjust for population changes in House and Senate districts. Trouble brews when Democrats and Republicans try to manipulate the drawing of lines to gain an advantage for their party.
Neither side prevailed last week because it was clear since at least last year that the secretary of state and the Oregon Supreme Court would have the primary roles in determining the new boundaries.
The reason: voters made conflicting decisions last year.
First, they left Republicans in control of the Legislature, giving the GOP the power to develop and pass a legislative redistricting plan over the objections of minority Democrats.
Second, they elected Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, secretary of state over the Republican nominee, Lynn Snodgrass.
That was crucial because voters in 1998 re-elected Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, giving him the authority to veto any redistricting plan passed by the 2001 Legislature ó and hand the responsibility to the secretary of state.
Lawmakers convened scores of hearings statewide and in Salem this year to gather redistricting testimony, but the public largely ignored them. No surprise there.
Oregonians may care who represents them in the Legislature but have shown almost no interest in getting involved in how actual House and Senate boundaries are drawn.
House Republicans tried to reach a redistricting compromise to avoid a veto by the governor, but House Democrats were not motivated to give an inch. They knew Kitzhaber would veto any plan deemed unfair by Democrats, putting Bradbury in charge.
When House Republicans finally figured out that House Democrats never planned to compromise, they got angry and advanced their redistricting plan. It passed the House and Senate on party-line votes, beating the June 30 redistricting deadline but facing a veto.
Thatís because Kitzhaber warned from the start that he would veto any redistricting plan that lacked bipartisan support.
Then things got interesting.
House Republicans tried an untested strategy to avoid Kitzhaberís veto: they inserted their redistricting plan into a resolution, which did not require the governorís approval.
Democrats protested that resolutions do not have the force of law and alleged the GOPís move was unconstitutional.
Republicans responded that the state constitution is vague about how a redistricting plan must be approved, and they insisted a resolution was permissible. Republicans also said that if Democrats didnít like the resolution, they could always file a lawsuit and let the courts decide.
Republicans were sure they would pass the resolution last week and avoid the governorís veto.
House Democrats foiled the strategy by boycotting floor sessions all week. That denied Republicans the quorum needed to do business ó and pass the resolution.
Outmaneuvered Republicans complained that Democrats were shirking their constitutional duties and voted to issue summonses to compel them to return. Democrats ignored the summonses, saying they were staying away to prevent an unconstitutional vote on the resolution. They finally returned Saturday ó too late for House and Senate Republicans to enact the resolution.
Adding insult to injury, Kitzhaber vetoed the GOPís redistricting plan and Bradbury held a news conference at which he laid out his strategy for drawing new districts. Republicans, certain Bradburyís eventual plan will unfairly favor Democrats, promise to ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the secretary of stateís plan.
Republicans and Democrats will continue blaming each other for the redistricting mess until the legislative session ends. They also may attempt to turn it into an election issue next year, but itís hard to imagine the partisan spat will mean much to voters.
Thatís why the overwhelming sentiment at the Capitoló even among legislators ó is that nobody won the standoff. More important, the public didnít pay attention and doesnít care.
Richard R. Aguirre can be reached at (503) 399-6739.
House Democrats return to the Capitol today after a five-day walkout. Theyíll face a huge backlog of bills and a possible effort by majority Republicans to punish them for their week-long absence.
At a minimum, House Democrats will be expected to give up their pay and daily expense allowance for the week they skipped work, House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, said Friday.
Republicans also might consider other sanctions, Simmons said, though he also was hopeful partisan tempers will cool, so lawmakers can bring the 2001 session to a close.
ìIím going to direct my energy to moving forward and concluding the session on a positive note,î Simmons said.
House Minority Leader Dan Gardner of Portland said he and fellow Democrats were ready to get back to work.
ìIt would be best for both sides to move forward with the work of the people of Oregon,î he said.
One of todayís essential bills would provide stopgap money to keep state services and schools afloat until two-year budgets can be passed. The stateís fiscal year ends today, and many agency budgets have yet to be approved.
There also are at least 70 other bills awaiting House action, Simmons said.
ìI think the pressureís on the House now to get their business done,î said Senate Majority Leader Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton. His chamber has now dispensed with most bills ready for floor votes.
Democrats were no-shows in the House all week to prevent a Republican move to enact a GOP redistricting plan via resolution and thus avoid the governorís veto. Time has now run out on that strategy, because the Oregon Constitution stipulates that new House and Senate districts must be drawn by the Legislature by July 1.
The Senate wonít be in session this weekend, so the GOP resolution couldnít clear both chambers by the deadline. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury will take over the legislative redistricting job.
House Republicans still could try to pass their resolution this weekend, Simmons said. But that would appear to be a symbolic move at best.
The GOPís parliamentary maneuver and Democratic response frayed relations between House Republicans and Democrats, prompting angry words on both sides all week. Leaders of both parties say they hope the dispute will not spill over into other business. Todayís session could determine if thatís the case or not.
Despite the Legislatureís failure to pass many agency budgets by the start of the new fiscal year, employee paychecks and payments to needy Oregonians are unaffected.
State administrators have been instructed to assume the stopgap budget bill will be OKíd by the House Saturday, and send payments on time, said Karmen Fore, spokeswoman for the Department of Administrative Services.
ìEmployees have already received their paychecks for June,î she said. ìAll public assistance is being mailed and distributed in its normal fashion.î
Even if the House erupts in partisan strife and the temporary budget bill is delayed, those checks will be in the mail by Saturday, she said.
Steve Law can be reached at (503) 399-6615.
House Republicans aren't going to wait for the Democrats to end their legislative boycott, voting instead Wednesday to issue legal summonses this morning to force the Democrats' return.
For their part, the Democrats -- who are protesting a Republican maneuver to pass a redistricting plan without the input of Gov. John Kitzhaber -- say they will remain in hiding. Republicans need only seven of them to reach a quorum, but Democrats said even if a process server finds them, they won't come back to vote.
"I don't think it serves anybody's purpose," Hannon said. "We're here to conduct the people's business, not the Republicans' or the Democrats' business."
Republicans last week changed the redistricting bill, which has passed both chambers, into a resolution that wouldn't need the Democratic governor's signature. Republicans want to bypass Kitzhaber because if he vetoes their plan, as he has promised, the job of redrawing legislative boundaries would fall to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, another Democrat. With Kitzhaber out of the picture, any challenge of the redistricting plan would send it to a nonpartisan state court to determine the boundaries.
Democrats, however, say the resolution is unconstitutional and have stayed out since Monday to avoid voting on it.
That has left the House unable to do anything except assemble, adjourn and vote to compel their absent colleagues to return, which, according to the Legislature's lawyer, can be done by force.
On Wednesday, 31 of the chamber's 32 Republicans voted to do just that. Republican leaders planned to hire a process server to find the Democrats, and Legislative Counsel Greg Chaimov said Democrats could be arrested if they refused to comply.
When the Democrats return, Chaimov said, Republicans could vote to punish them by censuring them or withholding money for office supplies and other expenses. They cannot be denied their $41-per-day legislative salary.
House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, said Republicans also may vote to charge Democrats for the cost of hunting them down. A Portland process serving company she called Monday said its going rate was $50 a head.
Only Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, was absent for the vote to send the summonses. Although he supports the Republicans' redistricting plan, he said ordering back the Democrats was "a bit of a charade."
"It's getting to the point where it's positioning and not reality," he said. "We're trying to salvage political advantage."Democrats say they'll be out
Democrats still planned to avoid answering their doors today. Some have arranged to be away from home, although they didn't seem to be difficult to find Wednesday. Employees at the Trust for Public Land made no attempts to conceal the whereabouts of Rep. Chris Beck, D-Portland, saying he was out buying berries at a weekly farmer's market near his downtown Portland office. Beck, a project manager, was found buying ripe Oregon strawberries among dozens of people. He said he was "bemused" by the standoff.
"Life goes on," Beck said about his fulfillment of nonlegislative duties this week, such as catching up on e-mails at work.
Rep. Gary Hansen, D-Portland, said if a process server came to him with a legal summons, he would "save the paper for posterity's sake."
"I don't think it would cause me to participate in an unconstitutional passage of legislation," he said. "I'm going to go about my regular business. It's going to depend on whether they stumble upon me, or if we cross paths."Negotiations ongoing
Democrats have said they'll return by Monday, a day after the deadline for the Legislature to pass a redistricting plan. Republicans said state operations could be endangered if they don't come back earlier, because the state's fiscal year ends Saturday and several major budgets have yet to be passed. But Democrats said agencies can continue to operate into early next week if they don't make expensive purchases.
House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, has offered to negotiate a new redistricting plan, but Minority Leader Dan Gardner, D-Portland, said he wants a signed letter from Simmons that says he'll table the resolution. He also wants a guarantee that Democrats won't be censured when they return.
Rep. Mark Hass, D-Raleigh Hills, who has spent the week making calls from home, visiting a summer school program and a veterans group, said he has been busier than he usually is in Salem. On Wednesday he joined other Democrats in a teleconference from his house in Raleigh Hills.
The stalemate, he said "is a little frustrating for me" and "isn't what I signed up for." But he added that the Democratic walkout made a point about preserving the minority's voting rights, which Democrats think may be compromised by the Republican redistricting plan.
"I don't think," Hass said, "standing up for fairness and protecting the constitution is something we need to hide from."
Republicans lined up process servers Tuesday to force the Oregon House's Democrats back to the Capitol, but they stopped short of sending out legal summonses in hopes the 25 boycotting legislators would return on their own.
The Democrats' leader, Rep. Dan Gardner, D-Portland, said even he didn't know where his colleagues were hiding and had no intention of calling them back to work unless Republicans abandoned their maneuver to bypass the governor on legislative redistricting. If that doesn't happen, Democrats might stay out until Sunday, the deadline for passing a redistricting plan, Gardner said.
On the second day of the Democrats' walkout, Republicans said their colleagues' absence -- which denies the House the two-thirds quorum necessary to conduct business -- could shut down state government. The state's fiscal year expires Saturday, and lawmakers must give agencies temporary spending authority if their budgets haven't been approved by then.
But Gov. John Kitzhaber said there is no danger state services will halt as the result of the walkout by his fellow Democrats. He said the attorney general told him spending could continue for at least a couple of days as long as agencies don't make any extraordinary purchases.
"We don't believe there is going to be a problem," Kitzhaber said. "The checks will be written and (state agencies) will be able to cover their operating expenses."
Democrats said they would donate each day's legislative salary of $41 a legislator to the Common School Fund. They also said they would refuse their $85 per diem for expenses. Among the 27 House Democrats, only Gardner and Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, who is on the budget-writing committee, showed up the past two days.
It was unclear Tuesday when the legislative standoff would end. Democrats said they were prepared to stay out until Sunday's redistricting deadline. Republicans drew up 25 summonses and asked a Portland process-serving company how much it would cost to deliver them to the missing Democrats, most of whom live in the Willamette Valley. Answer: $50 a head.
"My hope is they understand the seriousness of stopping the whole process over one bill," said House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village. "They've just picked up the ball and gone home."
But Republicans did not issue the summonses, offering instead to negotiate with Democrats on a new redistricting plan. The Republican-drawn plan, in legislative bill form and already passed by both chambers, is on Kitzhaber's desk, where he plans to veto it by Friday. That would send it to Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who Republicans think would draw lines favorable to his party.
The Republicans in committee last week changed their redistricting plan from a bill to a resolution. Resolutions, unlike bills, don't need the governor's signature. Democrats said the move was an unconstitutional effort to cut the governor out of the redistricting process and refused to go to the Capitol Monday.
Gardner declined to discuss his talks with House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, but called the redistricting resolution a "blatantly unconstitutional act" and suggested Republicans join Democrats in donating their salaries.
At the start of Tuesday's House session, Rep. Jim Hill, R-Hillsboro, pressed Democrats to return by sponsoring a motion that all absent members be compelled to attend. The motion carries little weight other than recording the names of the absent legislators.
"We have a constitutional requirement to be in the building. There is no provision that says if you don't feel like coming, you can't come," Hill thundered. "There are critical budgets and critical programs that if we do not pass a continuing resolution, the business of government will cease."
The Senate passed a temporary spending bill Tuesday, and Kitzhaber said he expected the House to do the same by Monday morning. "I don't think anybody wants to play games with that," the governor said.
"If we get something early in the week, then it's no longer an issue," said Michael Greenfield, who heads the state's Department of Administrative Services. "If we're running past that, then we need to think about what action we will take."
Unlike the federal government, which had a well-publicized shutdown in 1995 after the Republican Congress and then-President Clinton were deadlocked about the budget, Oregon's government has never shut down because of the slowness in passing budgets, Greenfield said. The Legislature commonly passes temporary spending bills when the session extends beyond June 30. That has happened in three of the past five sessions.
The largest agencies without a budget for 2001-03 are the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, the Oregon University System, the Oregon Youth Authority, community colleges and the judiciary. The budgets for the legislative branch and the governor's office also haven't been approved.
Democrats brought half of the Oregon Legislature to a halt Monday by refusing to meet until majority Republicans back off in a fight over redistricting.
Protesting lawmakers havenít shut down a session so dramatically since 1971, when Senate Democratsí left the Capitol in a dispute over ratifying the federal constitutional amendment allowing 18-year-olds to vote.
House Minority Leader Dan Gardner of Portland said the Democrats would refuse to provide a quorum to do business until Republicans scrap a tactic to push through a redistricting plan that would bypass Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Two-thirds of the 60 House members, or 40, have to be present to do business. Republicans control the chamber on a 32-27 count, with one independent.
Gardner, D-Portland, said only two Democrats came to the Capitol on Monday.
If a redistricting plan is not enacted by June 30, which is Saturday, the state constitution says the task of redrawing legislative districts goes to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat.
Lawmakers have adopted a Republican-backed plan for reshaping legislative districts thatís opposed by all Democrats, and Kitzhaber says he wonít sign any plan that lacks bipartisan support.
Among other reasons, Democrats oppose the GOP plan because it eliminates a House district along the coast that often has elected Democrats. Also, Democrats say the plan dilutes urban voting strength by dividing too many small cities.
Republicans pushed a measure out of committee Friday that put the GOP-backed plan into a resolution, which unlike a bill wouldnít go to the governor.
Gardner said a law canít be passed without the governor participating.
ìHouse Democrats refuse to be a party to an unconstitutional Legislature that reinvents rules to suit its needs,î he told a news conference. ìWe hope that the speaker will come to his senses and allow us to get back to the business of the state.î
House Speaker Mark Simmons had no immediate comment on the development.
Gardner produced a written opinion from Greg Chaimov, the Legislatureís chief lawyer, that says although the state constitution is not clear on the issue, ìthe most persuasive readingî is that the Legislature ìmust reapportion legislative districts through a bill that is subject to veto.î
Senate Majority Leader Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton, called the walkout ìabsolutely irresponsible.î
Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, called the House Democratsí actions ìvery appropriate under the circumstances.î
ìUnder certain circumstances, itís fair to say we would use all tools available to usî and stage a similar boycott, she said.
Legislative districts have to be redrawn after each 10-year federal Census to reflect population shifts. Gardner said he was refusing his $85 per day expense payment thatís given during sessions and was urging other Democrats to do the same.
The Legislature completed action Tuesday on a Republican-backed plan for redrawing congressional districting boundaries thatís doomed because it lacks Democratic support.
The House approved the Senate-passed measure 32-28 on party lines, with independent Rep. Jan Lee of Clackamas aligned with all the Democrats against the plan.
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber has said he wonít sign any redistricting plans that donít have bipartisan backing, so the issue will head into federal court unless lawmakers try to work out a compromise.
House Minority Leader Dan Gardner, D-Portland, said he doubts if that will happen: ìI donít see much chance.î
Boundaries of the stateís five congressional districts as well as state legislative districts have to be adjusted to reflect population shifts shown in last yearís federal Census.
Reshaping legislative districts also appears to be a lost cause. If lawmakers and the governor donít agree on a plan by June 30, that job falls to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
Oregon Map Goes to Court.
Rejecting Gov. John Kitzhaber's (D) demand for a House map with bipartisan backing, Oregon's GOP-controlled Legislature passed a redistricting plan along party lines that would remove Rep. David Wu (D) from his Portland-based 1st district.
Kitzhaber, who's eyeing a challenge to Sen. Gordon Smith (R), has vowed to veto the bill, a move that could ultimately throw the state's redistricting process into the courts. Kitzhaber's veto, which would be his first this session, would send the plan to Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (D), but Republicans would likely challenge his decision in court.
"We are counting on the governor's veto," said Wu, who is drawn into a district with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) under the GOP plan.
The sticking point is the roughly 25,000 voters in the Portland area. Republicans want to move some Multnomah County voters, mostly Democrats, from Wu's district to an adjacent one, a move that could make life tougher for Wu. Democrats want to keep most of those voters in his district.
"Our plan meets all the requirements, and it's dead legal," state Sen. Steve Harper (R) told the Oregonian newspaper. "This is as clean as we can possibly get."
Wu clearly disagrees. In an interview last Thursday, he called the Republican plan "raw politics" that "does violence" to local communities. "I hope Republicans come to their senses and accept a Democratic plan. All we need is some bare-bones population adjustment."
A session-long attempt by Republicans and Democrats to agree on new legislative and congressional district boundaries crumpled Tuesday, virtually assuring the task will be completed by the courts instead of the Legislature.
The Republican legislative plan, which the House approved 31-27 on a party-line vote, heads to the Senate and then to Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber. He is expected to veto it, which would throw the job to Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Republicans probably will challenge his decision in court.
The Senate passed the Republican congressional plan by a 16-12 vote, also strictly along party lines. The difference between it and the Democrats' plan is about 25,000 Portland-area voters that each party wants in a different district. Because Kitzhaber probably will veto the Republican plan, the task of redrawing the boundaries would fall directly to the courts.
Republicans were confident Tuesday that their plans would stand up.
"Our plan meets all the requirements, and it's dead legal," said Sen. Steve Harper, R-Klamath Falls. "This is as clean as we can possibly get."
Early in the session, the more optimistic members of both parties thought they could agree on redistricting, which the Legislature must complete every 10 years to reflect census changes.
In the House, which tackled legislative redistricting, both sides wanted to preserve the voting strength of African Americans in Northeast Portland and Latinos in the mid-Willamette Valley. In the Senate, which redrew congressional boundaries, the parties largely agreed on districts in Eastern Oregon and the mid-Willamette Valley.
But in the past few weeks, the talks collapsed. Republicans complained that Democrats weren't interested in compromising on a legislative plan because they had Bradbury as a backup. Democrats accused Republicans of deliberately drawing U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., out of his 1st Congressional District in Northwest Oregon.
The Republican plan is rock-solid, said Senate Majority Leader David Nelson, R-Pendleton, and should pass legal muster. "We analyzed the numbers, we were very open, did our hearings, laid the groundwork," he said. "I just feel we're in a good position. We were not political about it."
Republicans said their congressional plan follows state law by keeping "communities of interest," such as Multnomah County, intact as required by law. Their proposal for the 1st District would move some Multnomah County voters, mostly Democrats, from the district to an adjacent one and could make it tougher for Wu to keep his seat.
The Democratic alternative would keep some of those voters in Wu's district. Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said a portion of Portland should remain in the district with Washington County because they represent a community of interest, sharing transportation boundaries and other links.
"That area doesn't look at county lines; it sees itself as a region," he said. "This is what people wanted."
Bradbury will hold hearings
In the House, Democrats called the Republican legislative proposal "a very flawed plan" Tuesday. They said the proposal would reduce the number of mostly coastal districts from five to four and dilute the voting strength of Latino voters in Washington County.
But Rep. Dan Doyle, R-Salem, said the proposal would protect communities of interest by maintaining Asian Americans' voting strength in two Senate districts in Multnomah County and putting the entire Warm Springs Indian Reservation in one House district.