As the legislature heads toward sine die, there's some serious wrangling popping up. From Gay Rights Watch:
Outraged at what Speaker Minnis did today to destroy House rules - [Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley] did not hold back. He was gavelled about 4 times before either being told that his microphone would be turned off - or it was actually turned off by Speaker Minnis. He was called into Speaker Minnis' office to discuss the floor 'dispute'. Pretty intense.
It's easy to dismiss rules fights as partisan bickering over parliamentary procedure. From the AP:
Democrats have used that parliamentary move nearly a dozen times so far this session — all without success — to try to score political points with voters by highlighting bills that have no chance of winning passage in House, [Speaker Karen] Minnis said. "It was their behavior that prompted the change," the Wood Village Republican said.
Of course, process is policy - and the rules of the game determine the outcome.
Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland): "This is an absolute outrage and a pure affront to the rule of the majority and the minority. As it stands now, the leadership of the House has absolute ability to stop any bill or any vote from happening."
Questions: How far should Democrats go to protect their right to debate, to bring bills to the floor, to ensure a full discussion of important legislation (especially regarding bills passed by the Senate)? How much is too much? Will the GOP get any blowback from voters 15 months from now? Will grassroots Oregon Democrats reward the House Dems for their principled stands - or shrug their shoulders about "politics as usual"?