A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Preventing bad laws is part of the job

Written May 29th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

As long as the Senate chamber is empty, like here, lawmakers can’t make bad laws.

You may have been reading that Oregon senators who have kept the Senate from meeting were “not doing their jobs.” That’s the wrong way of looking at it.

In fact, these sentors are doing what they were elected to do, which is to prevent bad bills from becoming law.  That is their job, and they are doing it.

One of the bills they oppose would, among other things, promote the medical mutilation of children confused about their sex. (The euphemism is “gender-affirming care.”) Another would do an end-run around last year’s initiative on firearms while the initiative’s constitutionality is being challenged in the courts.

Boycotting the Senate is the only way the Republican senators have to stop such bills in a one-party state government and in a legislature dominated by Democrats unwilling to make any compromises at all.

What about democracy, you ask. Shouldn’t the majority rule?

Democracy needs checks and balances if it is to work, and it needs protections for the minority view. Without checks and balances, democracy can quickly become hard to distinguish from tyranny.

Last year’s Ballot Measure 113 is an example. It was approved by a big majority, and its aim was to remove the ability of the minority in the legisature from getting in the way of the majority’s steamroller.

Under that change in the state constitution, the senators who now have more than 10 “unexcused” absences will be barred from running for re-election to what would be be their next term.

They are willing to pay that price, though not having to serve in this kind of one-sided legislature may come as a relief to them. And if they really miss it, even under Measure 113 they can run again for the following term. Chances are their supporters — a majority in their districts — will remember their fight to stop bad bills and vote for them again.

In the meantime, the voters that elected these senators the last time will have to choose somebody else. But unless the districts have changed drastically since the last election, they’ll send people to Salem similar in outlook to the senators they replace.

That could lead to a long stalemate during which the legislature can’t function. (Not exactly a disaster, either. The legislature meets far too often as it is.)

All this could be avoided if the leaders of the majority were less determined to enact their party line no matter how much it offends politicians and voters on the other side. (hh)

61 responses to “Preventing bad laws is part of the job”

  1. Abe Cee says:


  2. Cap B. says:

    So, the bills on climate change, abortion, gun control, and gender affirming care are bad law in your opinion, Hasso, and the opinion of your old, white men followers of your blog. That doesn’t make it so. If the Dems were not showing up for quorums, and the votes on bills were not happening because the Repubs were the only ones at the Capitol, you would all be screaming like banshees.

    • Terry says:

      Nice blind allegiance to the party!

    • Ectoplasma says:

      They’re called elections, STUPID. I realize that your education is rather lacking, but come on. Try to learn a bit something about how democracy works. Hasso Hering…what a fool!

      • thomas earl cordier says:

        Just the name ectoplasma defines stupid/fool/coward who hides his name. If you don’t like hh blog just stay off the blog.

        • Davy says:

          But then, Hasso did approve that post, didn’t he? It appears that he was ok with it, although he may have cringed more than just a little.

        • I Hope This Name Meets Your Approval says:

          Looking at prior discussions, I see there are some who identify themselves with a letter or two. Why are you so hung up on what name that person used?

      • Joe says:

        This is a constitutional republic. A form of democracy not an all out democracy. Until you learn the difference you should probably just stay on the sidelines. It’s not mob rules. Our founders were smart enough to know the right way to it.

    • James Harrison says:

      Thanks Cap B. These are my feelings exactly.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Want to take an IQ test vs “the old white men” that follow this blog? How about the loser pays $100 point to the winner?

      I don’t know why Hasso continues to allow your bigoted vile.

    • Goodbye, Hasso says:

      I used to have a high regard for Hasso. I remember him way back from when he appeared on that OPB public affairs program that Stephanie Fowler moderated. I saw that post of his from several days back about the need for greater civility. I wondered how’d he really handle things going forward since he always seemed to give the knuckleheads a pass. At this point, I’m very disappointed with him; he appears to have rather flexible principles. If if wants a better quality forum, he needs to walk the talk. Instead, this forum is reminiscent of a dive bar, with a few drunks sitting at the end of the counter, muttering “SEZ YOU.”

      I will say this: there’s an old saying that you get what you pay for. The value of this blog is fast approaching my subscription fee, which is zero.

    • Anony Mouse says:

      “…old, white men followers of your blog.”

      Good point.

      I heard carbon dating was used to determine the age of Hartman.

    • Ben says:

      “Cap B.” you are clearly ignorant to history, and instead resort to racist ang ageist remarks to try an make your point. In 2001, then Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown staged such a walk out. She called the House Democrats’ actions “very appropriate under the circumstances.” “Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us, and stage a similar boycott,” she said. 
      AP, June 25, 2001

    • Joan Weaver says:

      The Dems did do this… as I remember the Republican worked out a compromise. The Dems at this point are the ones stonwalling

  3. Chuck Kratsch says:

    Thanks. Takes courage my friend!

  4. Lexis says:

    I have been a faithful voter since Eisenhower. The majority has always won, either side, red or blue. Do you seriously want that to change? The voters spoke on the measure you mentioned. We may not always like the outcome, i.e. former president, but the voters spoke. What good is voting if it doesn’t have meaning?

  5. Wil Hoehne says:

    I appreciate all of your insights concerning our local community. Spreading your wings and giving us your political personal insight damages my desire to follow your pieces. Not that I cannot respect your political insights, whether I agree or disagree; but, becoming a buzz political person doesn’t seem to fit the image I have of someone who edited true news for decades.

  6. Anony Mouse says:

    So a biological male in Oregon can get “gender-affirming treatment” like a penis-preserving vaginoplasty and the law mandates that the treatment be covered by insurance.

    What happens if you are part of the 30% who experience medical harm or feel regret and want to detransition?

    Sorry, the law says insurance doesn’t have to cover that expense. Use your own money.

    In Oregon, detransitioners will not have the same rights as transitioners.

    There is a word for that – injustice.

  7. Rick Staggenborg MD says:

    Whatever happened to “elections have consequences?” The idea is meaningless if the minority can ignore the fact that 63% of Oregonian voters told them to do their job or they will be allowed to hold office.

    Have the people who are monomaniacal about the tyranny of the majority never heard of the tyranny of the minority? That’s the way things work in communist countries, remember? I thought this was a Republic.

    • Anony Mouse says:

      Such ignorance.

      The Oregon Constitution requires two-thirds of lawmakers to be present to conduct business.

      In Oregon both parties have used walkouts. It’s not tyranny. It’s a constitutional right.

      Don’t like it? Change the Oregon Constitution.

      • Panzer says:

        Right you are Anony Mouse! How dare people think that folks who were hired for a job actually show up to work.

        • Abe Cee says:

          The issue is as Hasso noted. They very well may be “not showing up for work” as that is what their constituents want their elected officials to be doing. Since many/most Republicans (in this walk out case) are from less urban settings, they most likely oppose many of the Bills that are being proffered in the legislature this term. As they do not have the numbers to counter the populated districts, they get brushed aside with little to no consideration for what their constituents would support. Thus a walk out to attempt to make a compromise an option.

          • Curtis says:

            If the Republicans oppose these bills they should try winning some elections so that they have sufficient votes to stop them from passage. Unfortunately, the GOP goes out of its way to alienate suburban voters. I’ve got some news for you: limiting yourself to rural areas means you’re not going to have the clout to get your way.

            You alienate people, so you lose big election time. That means Democrats get the majority of the votes. That’s how democracy works.

  8. Hartman says:

    Hasso, you need not worry. There are several GOP Whack Jobs in the wings, ready, willing and able to fail to convince the people of Oregon that the GOP Way is the correct way.

    It seems clear that the only people the Oregon GOP appeals too are the Reactionaries and Christian Nationalists – people who are determined to strip away voting rights under the guise of “election fairness.” Again, why can’t the Right convince the voting block which matters (Portland-to-Eugene) as to the righteousness of their cause?

    What the GOP offers Oregonians is a blend of rehashed John Birch Society nonsense mixed in with religious bigotry and a biblical-based hatred of the gay people of this world. Why Oregon’s GOP fails to see their lack of appeal points directly to the myopic vision of those backing the Right.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      “It seems clear that the only people the Oregon GOP appeals too are the Reactionaries and Christian Nationalists –” The Dems have shown the result of their bigoted path.

      Been to Portland lately?

    • Cap B. says:

      Hartman, Thank you for all your comments re Hasso’s blogs and comments on his followers’ writings.. You can’t change a right-winger. Some medical research university back East a few years ago did a study on the brains of cadavers who were thoroughly conservative and those who were liberal progressives. The areas of the conservatives’ brains that control empathy were not developed and therefore not working when they were alive.

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        And just EXACTLY which university was this? Exactly how many didn’t? Prove you aren’t making up crap.

  9. William Ayers says:

    Thanks for standing up for the children!

  10. Alisa says:

    Cap B., as a matter of fact, I have done a lot of work towards educating (or trying to educate) our lawmakers on the racist history of gun control laws and how the “so-called” Gun safety measures they are attempting to push through are not only ‘unconstitutional,’ but directly and disproportionately affect Black communities more than any other community in Oregon. I have demonstrated this historical facts as well as current statistical data. However, because I’m the only Black person who was able to consistently show up, I was discounted and belittled.

    So, please, before you discredit this article as merely pandering to old white men, I implore you to do some research on the racist history of gun control laws. And while you’re at it, perhaps even dig a little deeper into the history of Planned Parenthood; and take a look at where most of Planned Parenthood clinics are as well as whom they serve the most with what type of procedures.

  11. William Ayers says:

    I don’t understand the rush to get under age children sex change surgery.
    They could dress as the opposite gender until reach maturity and many might be spared the anguish of having had a surgery they later regret.
    Again, I jwant to give support and appreciation to Hasso for taking a position, You are a brave man Hasso.

  12. Bob Woods says:

    I’d bet a new initiative will be brought forward soon that will change the State Constitution to “,,,a majority of members present” which is what the vast majority of states have.

    • RICH KELLUM says:

      It is ironic that liberals are whining about “the other side” leaving when it was them who left the state to do the same thing first..

      • Bob Woods says:

        You do realize that this has generated more news stories across the country?

        I Googled “oregon republicans boycott state legislature” and got 1,220,000 results in 0.44 seconds of search.

        You Right-Wingers must be so proud of making Oregon look like a silly political basket case. Great for attracting business and investment to Oregon?

        I don’t think so.

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          Been to Portland lately?

          • Bob Woods says:

            Yep. It’s still there and a great place for the Arts and dining.

            I’ll be there again on Sunday.

        • RICH KELLUM says:

          Our last governor was one who left the state the first time around, Now the whiny liberals complain, if it is awful now???? Why wasn’t it awful then Bob, why were you not all in a kerfuffle then Bob?

  13. Brandon Rodriguez says:

    I am sorry but this post feels biased for sure. They are elected leaders and should show up for their job or be fired from it. If they don’t have the majority then maybe they should try harder next time.

  14. RICH KELLUM says:

    Hasso, I am a little surprised at you. You speak about our Democracy, You know better, we are not now nor have we ever been a Democracy, we are a Constitutional Republic,
    A democracy is two Wolves and a Lamb deciding what is for lunch.

    • RICH KELLUM says:

      By the way, I agree with you about the need for GOP to leave.

    • Curious says:


    • Bob Woods says:

      Good grief Rich, your lack of understanding is inexcusable for a man your age.

      From the Oxford Dictionary: DEMOCRACY:
      “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

      Similar: representative government, elective government, constitutional government
      popular government, self-government, government by the people, autonomy, republic,

      From Merriam-Webster:
      1 a: government by the people especially : rule of the majority
      b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
      2 : a political unit that has a democratic government

      The United States IS a DEMOCRACY; the form is a Republic with elected representatives. To dwell on ultra Right-Wing tropes designed to divide our nation through semantics reveals your soul.

      It’s not a pretty sight.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        Oh , Learned scholar, democracy is not in either of our founding documents,. Republic is however in 1 of them

  15. Richard Vannice says:

    Hartman says, “can’t convince the voting block that matters (Portland to Eugene)”—Sounds like he doesn’t feel that anyone else in the State “matters”
    We are supposed to have equal representation at all levels of government, at least that is what I was taught back in the dark dark ages. If that was followed today those elected would be forced to compromise. As it stands now, the only compromise is if I get my way.

    • Bob Woods says:

      Garbage, The Republicans decided that they would not compromise on some bills and used a tool open to them to stymie the process.

      They just didn’t have the votes, and there hasn’t been much coverage as to whether they even tried to negotiate.

  16. MarK says:

    All of these negative comments remind me of a shirt I have that says, “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right”.

  17. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Cuertainly glad I’m non-affiliated! Methinks some of the best governance we had was back in the day when it was a 50/50 split between parties. Compromise was required. Probably fewer laws promolgated, neither party was totally satisfied, and Oregon was better for it. Where’s Frank Morse!

    • Bob Woods says:

      Instead of Frank Morse, the Republicans have gone full Donald Trump.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      I’m non affiliated too. It means nothing. Trying to pretend it does is just idiotic.

  18. Thomas J. Busse says:

    One of the problems with Oregon’s part-time legislature is it doesn’t do its job of oversight. Instead, we have these rogue state agencies such as the Oregon Health Authority that operate without even the most basic audit by the partisan secretary of state. Nobody in government is held accountable, and the legislature is so part-time that there are never any hearings, witnesses, or transparent testimony of state officials. I’ve been told it costs about $2,000,000 to get elected to state office all for a job that pays $30,000 a year.

  19. Hj.anony1 says:

    Truly horrendous post to the HH blogosphere!

    Shame on you Hasso!

    Longing for a day I can walk out. Yes! WALK out on my job and still be paid.

    3 to 1 now with the Qs in the lead.

    Big dead mega kudos to CapB and B Woods. Agree!!!

    Dancing on a grave! Check out my moves

  20. centrist says:

    HH et al
    I look at the R behavior as non-constructive, isolationist, regressive claptrap. Their only claim to “victim” results from their own behavior.
    Bye all

  21. Ray Kopczynski says:

    The “rules” are there for everyone to play by. Folks can whine, weep, wail, gnash their teeth, and flagellate themselves (or others), but don’t complain about it being unfair until/if/when those rules are changed.

    And while I viscerally disagree with the process/outcome, now (and when the other side did the same thing), there are no rules that were/are being broken. As long as those senators are willing to abide the outcomes (their inability top run for re-election), it’s how the process works.

  22. Bob Zybach says:

    As an old, fat, white man I dislike being publicly belittled because of my race, age, or physical condition. That being said, it is obviously the “anonymous” nitwits who are belittling those of us they disagree with that are resorting to this juvenile (and stupid) name-calling. I’m guessing they are mostly urban voting Democrats, and several might be old white guys themselves. That’s another reason they hide behind pseudonyms. We used to call them trolls and ignore their nonsense. I suggest following that tradition.

    Also, thanks, Hasso, for expressing your opinion. And I do agree with it, despite my age, race, and lack of physical fitness. Also, I am not a Republican, but I fully agree with what these elected officials are doing. There’s trouble in River City, and it needs to be fixed. A problem needs to be identified before it can be resolved, and these folks are doing just that.

  23. TLH-ALB1 says:

    It’s ironic that some think it’s appalling for Republican members of our legislature to stay away from Salem, so that a quorum is not met. A little research exercise will show that this tactic has been utilized, even before the Oregon Constitution was signed…over the issues of slaves and slavery…and it was the Democrats of the time who staged the walkout…in my relative’s barn. Eventually, the issues were discussed and my relative signed the Oregon Constitution bringing Oregon into the USA.

    • Anony Mouse says:

      Enjoyed your comment. There is a good book, “The Closed Partisan Mind: A New Psychology of American Polarization,” that analyzes the irony you identify.

      Sadly, politics have been simplified into an us-vs-them conflict.

  24. George Baker says:

    Hey here’s an idea: The Republicans drop their crazy beliefs, and run candidates who are a bit more grounded in reality than QAnon-types, and actually start running candidates who maybe, just maybe, can win elections in the suburbs. That way they’ll have lots more seats in the legislature and they won’t have to resort to such pathetic antics. You can do it, GOP: remember those good old days when your could actually win elections, even statewide ones the way Gordon Smith did? But then Gordon always seemed to be fairly rational, and that doesn’t fly with today’s GOP. Oh well, enjoy the political wilderness.

  25. Joe Dirt says:

    Throw out the Republican trash, conservatives, and religious bigots and send them to Idaho.. Including the HH author who wrote this trash. Write about the news.


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