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A Caucus Divided
This most certainly violates some free speech rights.

In case you haven't been paying attention, there is a rift in the Senate Republican Caucus. The dispute started over SB 554 which was the gun control bill. About half the Senators wanted to deny quorum and prevent the bill from passing.

You'll also remember that back in January, a group of Senators, two sitting and one former, essentially took over the leadership of the Oregon Republican Party. Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) was elected chair, Former Senator Herman Baertschiger was elected Vice Chair and Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) was elected Treasurer.

One of the battles being fought in this war is SB 865, introduced by Senators Findley and Hansell, as well as by Democratic Senator Rob Wagner. This raises some questions. Why is he sponsoring a bill that's essentially just a family feud on the other side of the aisle? And, if Wagner is so concerned about conflicts of interest, why does he continue to serve on the Lake Oswego School Board?

SB 865 prohibits a person from simultaneously serving as holder of state office and as officer of state central committee of political party and establishes fine of up to $250 per day for violation. This, of course, is targeting what is going on in the Republican party.

Senator Hansell penned an op-ed in which he claims to want to root out conflicts of interest, but why just stop at party officials? Certainly Rob Wagner has much more of a conflict of interest in voting for billions of dollars to go to school districts, upon one board he serves, than Dallas Heard who controls little, either as a Senator or as a party chair.

Two former Republican Senators are now caucusing as Independents. The scorecard looks like this:

Dallas Heard (R)Fred Griod (R)
Dennis Linthicum (R)Dick Anderson (R)
Art Robinson (I)Lynn Findley (R)
Kim Thatcher (R)Bill Hansell (R)
Chuck Thomsen (R)Bill Kennemer (R)
Brian Boquist (I)Tim Knopp (R)

The bill is in the Senate Committee on Rules, where it is scheduled for a public hearing and committee vote this week. Assuming it passes the full Seate, it will be interesting to see if the House has any appetite for a bill that is the result of a Senate war and most certainly violates some free speech rights.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-17 07:38:55Last Update: 2021-05-17 11:38:56

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