Legislators strike deal to speed up floor votes as policy committees slow down
Monday, April 19, 2021
The logjam has broken in the House, and more education bills are moving downstream.
The Legislature is also entering a new and more deliberate phase of its calendar. The education committees will be working fewer bills, and the bills before them will have already achieved one chamber’s support.
Last week, House Republicans agreed to end the constitutional requirement to read the entire text of every bill aloud before a vote can occur, drastically speeding up the bill voting process. In exchange, Republicans will have more influence on the House committee drawing district boundaries, which will affect the Legislature’s makeup for the next decade.
Republicans, such as Rep. Lily Morgan of Grants Pass, are describing it as a “huge win” for the party. Salinas, in her newsletter, was less enthusiastic but did appreciate that the House would be able to start clearing the backlog of bills waiting for a vote.
The deal took effect Thursday, April 15. After weeks of voting on about five bills per day, the House moved 46 bills that day alone.
For education stakeholders, it is a resumption of a more familiar process. Education bills that had been bound up in the backlog are moving quickly off the House floor, including HB 2631, on bullying notification; HB 2954, on charter school lotteries; HB 2474, on employee leave; and HB 2605, on building codes in tsunami zones.
It comes at a time when the education committees in the House and Senate will drastically reduce their work. On Tuesday, April 13, the Legislature passed the first chamber deadline to vote on bills in policy committees. Any bills remaining in education committees that originated in the same chamber as the committee are effectively “dead” (although there is almost always a way around in extraordinary circumstances).
The chairs of these committees have acknowledged the changing pace. House Education Chair Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, announced that her committee would not be meeting for a week. Senate Education Chair Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, scheduled meetings for bills that are procedurally dead but contain topics of broad interest or concern, including a bill to ensure sufficient and meaningful instruction on the histories, contributions and perspectives of African Americans.
For education advocates, it is now clearer which bills have a real chance of passage. Lobbyists can more tightly focus their energy on bills of the greatest benefit or concern.