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Oregon Measure 113, aimed at preventing walkouts by state lawmakers, projected to pass

As of Wednesday evening, more than 68% voted to amend Oregon's constitution to disqualify state lawmakers from reelection if they have 10 or more unexcused absences.

SALEM, Ore. — In the midterm election, Oregon Measure 113 is projected to pass, according to The Oregonian. The measure aims to prevent state lawmakers from running for office again if they have 10 or more unexcused absences during their term. It's a way to stop legislators from using walkouts as a tactic.

The measure wasn't pushed by lawmakers. Instead, it was a grassroots, union-backed, citizen-initiated measure.

Of all the ballot measures voters could've approved or denied, Measure 113 had the most support. As of Wednesday evening, more than 68% voted to amend Oregon's constitution to disqualify state lawmakers from reelection if they have 10 or more unexcused absences from legislative floor sessions. 

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"I think the public, or certain portions of the public, just got fed up to their eyeballs with all of the maneuverings and manipulation," said Judy Stiegler, an Oregon State University-Cascades political science instructor and one-time state representative. "It's been a maneuver that's been utilized by different groups in the legislative process and it's been used by both House members and Senate members."

Stiegler said walkouts have been used by both Democratic and Republican parties, although no-shows have been used most recently by the Republicans to fight, for example, cap-and-trade bills.

"The problem is when you have a party that's in the minority and they don't feel like their voice is being heard at all, they get frustrated," Stiegler said. "They get frustrated and I totally understand that ... they want to make a make a point and sometimes you have to go to fairly lengthy extremes to make that point."

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But now, Stiegler said the people have spoken, not only through votes, but through the creation of the ballot measure. 

"This was not a legislatively referred initiative. This was done by the citizens themselves. This was done by a group of people who went out and got signatures on a petition and got it qualified for the for the election," she said.

Though no organized group opposed the measure, several candidates and publications spoke out against it, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan and unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson, who said it would give the majority party too much power. 

As for what comes next, Stiegler believes there will be some discussion around what an unexcused absence looks like, since there is no formal definition in the Oregon constitution.

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