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Can the Grand Old Party GOP Survive in Oregon?
Bill would make it illegal to simultaneously serve as a state officer

Oregon politics has been dominated by the Democrat party since 2007 when the party took over controlling majority in the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office, and the Republican party has struggled to regain a balance of power ever since. Difference of opinions within the party at the national and local level have dominated conversation in recent years and in some cases possibly cost the party elections. Now, Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale), and Senator Bill Hansell (R–Athena) and Senator Rob Wagner (D– Lake Oswego) have introduced SB 865 at the request of the Malheur, Baker and Morrow County Republican Executive Committees which would change who may serve as state elected officer of a party Central Committee. The bill appears to be targeted at the Republican party as the Chair and Treasurer are both current sitting Republican Senators; Senator Dallas Heard, Chair (R–Roseburg) and Senator Dennis Linthicum, Treasurer (R–Klamath Falls). The Democrat Party State leadership has no sitting elected state officials in their executive Committee.

The changes would make it illegal to simultaneously serve as a state officer (Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, state Senator or Representative, Judge of the Supreme Court or Judge of the Court of Appeals) and hold an elected officer position of the State Central committee of a major political party.

SB 865 proposes to add to existing law in ORS 248.072. The section of law that covers the Authority of the State Central Committee for major political parties.

“The state central committee is the highest party authority in the state and may adopt rules or resolutions for any matter of party government which is not controlled by the laws of this state”.

However, the bill does not address other statues in the same section of law that cover fair representation within the State Central Committee.

ORS 248.005 Partied to insure widest and fairest representation of members.
Each political party by rule shall insure the widest and fairest representation of party members in the party organization and activities. Rules shall be adopted by procedures that assure the fair and open participation of all interested party members.

ORS 248.007 Organization of major political party.
(1) Subject to ORS 248.005 (Parties to insure widest and fairest representation of members), a major political party may organize and select delegates to national party conventions in any manner.

In addition, there is also the possibility that the change in statute would be in conflict with federal law under free speech and associational rights of political parties and their members guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Rules, chaired by one of the main sponsors, Sen. Wagner on May 18th. As of press time there were over a hundred pieces of submitted testimony, the majority of which is against the bill. However, this session many bills have been overwhelmingly opposed by the voters and the super majority has pushed the legislation through anyway. The Oregon Republican party was established in February 1857 as the Free State Republican Party of Oregon and held its first state convention on April 1, 1859. However, with an emergency clause in SB 865, and a fine of up to $250 per day for violation, the Oregon Republican Party could be using their next state convention to replace half of their State Executive Committee.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-18 07:44:55Last Update: 2021-05-17 16:05:58

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