Republicans in the Oregon Senate gained something from their weeklong walkout that ended Monday when they returned to the Capitol in Salem.
But the state, as a whole, lost.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the GOP’s tactic of staying away temporarily to deny the majority Democrats the quorum necessary to pass bills.
Republicans don’t have the ability to prevent Democrats from passing a tax on gross receipts for businesses with $1 million or more in annual sales. But by walking out on May 6 the GOP senators delayed a vote and gave themselves bargaining power.
This resulted Monday in a compromise.
A bad compromise.
Democrats agreed to drop two bills. The good news is that one of those, Senate Bill 978, was a misguided piece of legislation that, among other things, would have allowed businesses to refuse to sell firearms to people younger than 21.
But that small victory seems pyrrhic because the other scrapped bill is one that should become law — House Bill 3063, which would eliminate nonmedical exemptions parents can use to avoid having their children vaccinated before they attend public school.
Oregon’s vaccination requirements are laughably lenient. Not that there’s anything amusing about the topic in 2019, when more Americans have contracted measles than any year since 1994. One of the larger outbreaks was centered in Vancouver, Washington.
The return of communicable diseases such as measles, once believed to be eradicated due to vaccines, is a direct result of the puzzling refusal of people to recognize the unimpeachable reality that vaccines are with exceedingly rare exceptions effective and safe.
Until the GOP senators’ boycott it seemed likely that Oregon, following the lead of California, would recognize this dangerous trend and tighten up its vaccination requirements for students.
The House passed House Bill 3063 by a 35-25 vote on May 6.
Nationally, vaccine opposition is not a decidedly partisan stance.
Surveys from the Pew Research Center show that people who are either strongly conservative or strongly liberal are more likely than moderates to believe that vaccines are not as safe as the overwhelming evidence over more than half a century shows they are.
Some of the more vocal (or at least the more publicized) anti-vaccine advocates, including Robert Kennedy Jr. and many celebrities, are liberals.
But in Oregon it’s the Republicans who will carry the shameful mantle of perpetuating the state’s medieval attitude about one of the great medical achievements in human history.
When the House approved the exemption bill, just two of 22 Republican representatives voted in favor (Baker County’s representative, Lynn Findley of Vale, was not one of the two “aye” votes), while just five of 38 Democrats voted no.
Rep. Cheri Helt, a Bend Republican who is the bill’s chief co-sponsor and one of the two GOP representatives who voted for the legislation, said after Monday’s compromise was announced that “it’s disappointing that once again the loudest, most extreme voices in our politics prevailed.”
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor