House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, and House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, confer with Republican Chief of Staff Mark Cruz during a break in a House floor session Friday. (Photo by Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

The Oregon House and Senate will return Saturday and possibly Sunday for the last gasps of a 160-day marathon that reached its quickest pace this week.

Sunday at 11:59 p.m. is the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to adjourn sine die and end its work for the year, though lawmakers could opt to extend that deadline by five days with a two-thirds vote. Legislators, however, are eager to head home.

But before they can call it a year, lawmakers plan to act on dozens more bills, including high-profile measures that would:

  • Cap rent increases at 10% in years with high inflation. Lawmakers in 2019 capped rent increases at 7% plus inflation, but high inflation last year cleared the way for landlords to hike rents by 14.6%. Senate Bill 611 passed the Senate on a party-line 17-8 vote on Tuesday and still needs a vote in the House. 
  • Ask voters to set up a new commission to hike pay for elected officials. Senate Joint Resolution 34 would trigger a 2024 vote on creating a commission to set salaries for the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, lawmakers and other state elected officials. It cleared the Senate on a bipartisan 21-4 vote on Wednesday and is scheduled for a vote in the House on Saturday. 
  • Create a research and development tax credit for the semiconductor industry. House Bill 2009, approved by the House on a 47-4 vote Wednesday, would allow companies to receive a 15% tax credit for research done in Oregon, with a maximum credit per company up to $4 million annually. Business leaders contend a tax credit is necessary to help Oregon compete with other states for a share of the $52 billion in federal funding from last year’s CHIPS and Science Act. The Senate is expected to vote on the tax credit on Saturday.
  • Provide $61 million for community-based renewable energy projects and update state building codes.  House Bill 3409, a package of 15 climate-related proposals, cleared the House on a 34-15 vote with all Democrats in favor and still needs a Senate vote.
  • Spend $145 million to improve student literacy through House Bill 3198. The Senate still needs to vote on the bill, which passed the House on a 51-1 vote on Thursday. It’s a top priority for Gov. Tina Kotek. 

On Thursday evening in Woodburn, at the tail end of a day-long tour of Marion County, Kotek told reporters she spent her drive on the phone with legislators about end-of-session priorities, though she declined to say what those were.

Kotek sees no reason to call lawmakers back into a special session, something that had seemed a foregone conclusion until last week, when Senate Republicans ended their six-week walkout that prevented the chamber from doing business.  

“​​I think it’s good that the Legislature got back to work and are on the path and finishing what they need to do,” Kotek said. “We can always do more and we might have disagreements, but I think they are going to end with good budgets and good investments on things that matter, and my job as governor is to implement them and make sure they work.”

The House continued working and passing bills throughout the Senate walkout, and representatives have spent much of the past week watching the Senate make progress on bills. By midday Friday, House members who had been optimistic about ending the session before the weekend were resigned to spending Saturday or even Sunday in Salem. 

Some remained optimistic about salvaging part of their weekend – Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, hoped that 12:30 p.m. on Saturday would be the end of the session, while Reps. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, and Dacia Grayber, D-Tigard, were optimistic about ending at 4 p.m. and 4:44 p.m. on Saturday, respectively. Republican Greg Smith of Heppner, the longest-tenured member of the House, used game-show logic from “The Price is Right” to reach his 7:31 p.m. Saturday sine die guess after learning that House Chief Clerk Tim Sekerak was betting on 7:30.

And House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, declined to guess on when the session could end, saying that depended on the Senate – speculating that the older average age in the upper chamber meant they couldn’t move through bills as quickly as the younger, sprier House. 

But Rayfield rejected the idea of ending work unilaterally as the House, something the Senate has done to the House before. 

“We leave no senators on the field,” he said. 

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.