Oregon Democrat Senator: The Oregon Senate Conduct Committee has lifted a restriction that had been placed on Senator Brian Boquist, a Democrat representing Dallas, for comments that he made during the 2019 walkouts by Republican senators.
The restriction, which was the first of its kind, forced the former Republican, who is now a registered Independent, to provide a notice of at least 12 hours before showing up for work at the Capitol. This allowed the state to make preparations to have more state police present.
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The limitation was imposed when Republican members went on a strike that lasted for nine weeks during the legislative session. Their goal was to prevent legislation that Democrats were attempting to advance (most notably the cap-and-trade package) by preventing a quorum from being met.
It had been threatened by Senate President Peter Courtney and Governor Kate Brown that the Oregon State Police would be used to coerce members into returning to the session. During a session that took place in the Senate while Boquist was present, he confronted Courtney and said, “You send the state police to grab me, hell is going to visit you personally.”
Later on, Boquist stated to a variety of media sources that he would put up a fight against any attempt to coerce him into returning to the state Capitol. He also stated that the Oregon State Police would need to “deploy bachelor and come heavily armed” in order to successfully capture him.
On Monday, the Senate Committee on Conduct cast a vote to lift the safety limitations, which passed with a 3-1 majority.
“Since the committee agreed unanimously to require Senator Boquist to comply with certain safety measures, there have been no instances of him breaking the demand that he do so that have been reported. In addition, Senator Boquist has not been asked to leave or had his access to the Capitol building revoked “remarked Senator Floyd Prozanski, who was serving as the committee’s co-chair.
Boquist filed a lawsuit against Courtney, the conduct committee, and legislative staff after the 2019 restrictions, claiming that the safety requirements were unconstitutional because they were a form of retaliation against him for exercising his rights under the First Amendment. The lawsuit was prompted by the 2019 restrictions.
Oregon's Senate Conduct Committee reversed a 2019 decision that imposed restrictions on State Republican Senator Brian Boquist after he made threats ahead of a lawmaker walkout that year.https://t.co/cIydBxYrvm
— KATU News (@KATUNews) November 29, 2022
The case was initially thrown out by a district court, but it was then brought back into play by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the ruling of the circuit court, the committee is going to have to demonstrate that the limits were imposed not as a form of retaliation but rather as a safety measure.
Prozanski feels that the committee was well within its powers when it acted, despite the fact that he was the one who first proposed lifting the limits.
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“The committee acted on July 8, 2019, under the rules that we were working under, and we feel that we do in fact have the ability to follow the recommendations that were made on that day,” he added. “The committee acted in accordance with the regulations that we were working under.”
Senator Dick Anderson cast the lone “no” vote, although he did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the matter. In place of a statement, Boquist referred back to the assertions that he made in the legal action because he was unavailable for an interview.
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