Redistricting bills pass in special session

By on Monday, September 27th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Columbia Basin Top Stories

SALEM – Oregon House of Representatives Republicans backed away from a planned walkout during the Legislature’s redistricting special session. GOP members did not attend floor sessions Saturday to deny a quorum over the Democrat-majority drawn proposed maps.

Democrats gave a little ground on the lines for a new Congressional district, but not much according to Republicans. However, if an agreement hadn’t been reached by midnight tonight the redistricting for both Congressional and Legislative districts would have gone to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s office. It was clear the GOP didn’t want to allow that to happen.

The Senate then had to convene to approve the changes in Senate Bill 881 and 882. Minority Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyon) believes the Congressional map passed by the supermajority in both houses of the Legislature will be challenged in court.

“The law requires us to keep communities of interest together in the redistricting process,” he wrote in a prepared statement. “The only community of interest this map seeks to keep together are Democrat voters. In no world does it make sense for Bend and Portland to be in the same district.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan of Canby agreed with Girod that a court challenge of the maps would succeed.

“This is by no means over,” she wrote. “The illegal Congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing Congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) is pleased with the process under difficult circumstances.

“Despite the delay in census data, a drastically shortened deadline, and an ongoing global pandemic, we delivered on an inclusive and accessible process with 22 hearings and almost 2,000 pieces of testimony from Oregonians who made their voices heard,” she wrote.

Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) believes the maps will stand any challenge. “Each district in these bills was carefully designed to ensure compliance with Oregon’s redistricting standards and ensure that communities across Oregon will  have strong and accurate representation in the Oregon Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives,” she wrote.

Gov. Kate Brown has signed both bills into law.