A few days ago I wrote "Oregon Dems surrender to Republicans like scared little mice."
Now I'm even more irritated at what Governor Kate Brown and her spineless cronies in the state legislature (notably Sen. Peter Courtney and Rep. Tina Kotek) did -- needlessly killing much-needed bills to enhance vaccination rates and control guns in a misguided effort to entice Senate Republicans to end their short walkout, which denied a quorum in the Senate.
I'll let excerpts from some newspaper stories do the explaining for why this was such a bad idea. I've boldfaced parts for emphasis.
(1) Nigel Jaquiss' Willamette Week story, "Oregon Lawmakers Abandoned Vaccination Requirements in Order to Raise Taxes. That Could Make Oregon an Anti-Vaxx Haven."
An attempt to compel Oregonians to vaccinate their children morphed into perhaps the most emotional and polarizing debate of the 2019 legislative session. Then, on May 13, it blew up in a way nobody expected.
After a brutal process, the bill passed the Oregon House on May 1. As proponents and critics prepared to relitigate their differences in the Senate, Democrats agreed in a backroom deal May 13 to kill the bill—in exchange for Senate Republicans' agreement to return from a self-imposed exile and allow passage of a $2 billion tax measure to fund schools.
...Although the bill passed the House 37-21, five Democrats voted no and at least two Democratic senators opposed it. One of them, Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), told Oregon Public Broadcasting he didn't think the votes were there. Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), a chief sponsor of the bill, disagrees. He thinks the votes were available in the Senate—but the courage wasn't. "The Senate is a hospice where good bills go to die," Greenlick says.
...Greenlick says he wasn't consulted about senators' capitulation on his bill and only learned about the deal Monday morning. He says he hasn't decided whether to try again next year or leave that task to future Legislatures. "I'm not very happy," Greenlick says. "This really is an important issue. And when you get blackmailed, you shouldn't fold."
(2) AP reporter Sara Zimmerman's "Oregon vaccine bill dead as US measles count soars."
Critics blasted a decision by Oregon lawmakers that killed a bill aimed at getting more children vaccinated for measles and other preventable diseases in order pass a tax on large businesses, saying it jeopardized public health.
Despite passing the House and having the necessary votes in the Senate, the measure to make it harder for families to opt out of required vaccinations was nixed as part of a deal announced Monday to end a week-long Republican walkout over a multibillion school funding tax.
Under the vaccination measure, sponsored by state Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, children would only have been be able to forgo vaccine requirements with a doctor's note, otherwise they'd be unable to attend public school.
...Oregon has the highest rate of unvaccinated kindergartners in the country, with at least 7.5% of toddlers claiming an exemption. In some schools, more than 40% of children are unvaccinated through the state's lax exemption process. That makes Oregon uniquely susceptible to an outbreak, according to Diane Peterson, associate director for Immunization Action Coalition, which receives funding from the CDC.
"Oregon in particular is a hotbed for a measles outbreak," Peterson said. "All you need is to introduce one person with the disease into the community and it will spread like wildfire."
(3) AP reporter Andrew Selsky's "Enough GOP senators return to end Oregon tax bill standoff."
The sergeant-at-arms of the Oregon Senate had a new regular duty in recent days: Searching the state Capitol for Republican senators who had been staying away and brought the legislative body’s business to a halt.
...To get the Republicans to return, Democrats, who hold a supermajority, agreed to not advance a measure requiring vaccinations for children to attend public schools, unless they have a doctor’s note. Democrats also agreed to drop gun-control legislation. Senate President Peter Courtney told reporters it was a painful but necessary move.
“We had a crisis of government shutdown on us. It could have gone on and on and on,” Courtney said. “It could have involved the state police. It would have been a nightmare.”
Rep. Cheri Helt, a Republican and co-sponsor of the vaccination bill, was incensed that it was sacrificed. Few Republicans were for the measure that vaccination opponents had flocked to the Capitol to protest.
Helt tweeted on Monday that “the loudest/most extreme voices in our politics prevailed.”
...Senate Republican leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., had negotiated with Courtney to end the stalemate, officials said.
The November 2018 election gave Democrats a three-fifths supermajority in Oregon’s Senate and House of Representatives, enabling them to pass tax-raising measures without getting Republicans on board. But they didn’t have enough seats for a quorum.
“The tactic of denying a quorum doesn’t mean we shut them down forever,” Baertschiger said on the Lars Larson Show, a conservative talk radio program. “We all know that we’re gonna have to return. But what it does do is shine a light on what the Democrats are trying to do to us.”
Baertschiger attended the Senate on Monday afternoon, allowing the body to reach its minimum 20 senators for a quorum.
So the Senate Republican leader admitted that the R's weren't going to walk out forever, just long enough to draw attention to the tax bill that they didn't like.
But in an amazing display of political idiocy, Governor Kate Brown gave Republicans way more than they deserved, and expected to get.
Grover Norquist was ecstatic. Which is why I'm not, being a Democrat who believes that hardball tactics by Republicans that amount to political ransom should be fought, not rewarded.