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Oregon GOP senators’ absence from statehouse delays action on gun safety, gender-affirming care legislation

By Andi Babineau, CNN

Republican state senators in Oregon were absent from the chamber Thursday, denying a quorum for the second day in a row, during a week in which gun safety, reproductive health and gender-affirming care legislation were scheduled for discussion.

Twenty members are required to reach a quorum and conduct Senate business, but just 18 were present.

The delay in business comes as HB 2002, a bill relating to reproductive rights and gender-affirming care, and HB 2005, a gun control measure, are scheduled to be read on the Senate floor on Friday, according to the Oregon State Legislature website.

State GOP leadership said the lawmakers were “engaging in a constitutional protest” of bill summaries not being written plainly.

“Laws are to be plainly written and easy to understand,” Oregon state Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, a Republican, said in a statement Wednesday. “When the majority of bill summaries written demand a post-graduate degree to understand what the bills do, we disenfranchise Oregonians across the state and violate the law in the process.”

The Republican leader added that “to comply with state law, every bill must return to its original sponsor so Legislative Council can redraft the bill summaries. The bill must then be sent back through committees to be reconsidered before being heard on the Senate and House floors.”

In response, Democratic Majority Leader Kate Lieber on Wednesday called on the absent senators to “do your job,” and referenced a constitutional amendment passed in November that disqualifies legislators from reelection at the end of their term if they have 10 unexcused floor absences.

“It is no coincidence that Republicans are employing these embarrassing antics as the Senate is about to vote on bills that protect reproductive health freedom and establish common sense gun safety laws,” Lieber said in a statement.

“Voters were clear last year when they passed Measure 113 by an overwhelming margin and in every state senate district: elected lawmakers should be in the Capitol doing their jobs.”

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CNN’s Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.

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