The Oregon Senate conducts business on Thursday with the GOP-led walkout over. (Photo by Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

The deal between legislative Republican and Democratic leaders softens two bills on abortion rights and gun control that had been at their heart of their negotiations.

Republicans hailed the deal as a major victory because Democrats agreed to drop a provision that would have allowed minors younger than 15 to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge. Instead, providers will have to inform parents unless doing so would put the child in danger or at least two providers from separate facilities agree informing parents isn’t in the child’s best interest. 

A rewritten version of House Bill 2002 also eliminates proposed grants to expand abortion access on college campuses and in rural areas.

Democrats, who had insisted they wouldn’t back down on House Bill 2002, stressed that the agreement solidifies current abortion rights, protects providers who perform abortions or transgender care and ensures that health insurers cover “medically necessary gender-affirming care.”

The Democrats also agreed to water down House Bill 2005 on gun control, eliminating a provision that would have raised the legal age for buying most  firearms from 18 to 21 years old and a provision allowing local governments to ban guns on their property. But the bill still would ban “ghost” guns, which are untraceable and don’t have serial numbers.

For Oregonians, the agreement means: 

• The Legislature can pass dozens of bills affecting the lives of Oregonians across the state that had been blocked by the Republican walkout. They include proposals on homelessness, nurses, mental health care, public defenders, reading and public education and the semiconductor industry.

• The state will dedicate “substantial” resources to 988, the new mental health crisis hotline.

• Voters will not be asked, as Democrats had hoped, to decide whether examples of equal rights that are constitutionally protected should be spelled out in the state constitution or to remove a constitutional section stating that a marriage is between one man and one woman. Senate Joint Resolution 33, which was dropped in the deal, would have asked the electorate to vote on those changes.

• A permit requirement for a firearm purchase will not start on July 1, 2024 as directed in Senate Bill 348, which is being dropped. The bill also would have enacted a permit requirement on July 1, 2026 for a purchase of certain ammunition and shotguns. And it would have prevented those convicted or found guilty except for insanity of a violent misdemeanor in the previous four years from buying a firearm. The bill closely resembled voter-approved Measure 114, which hasn’t yet taken effect because of ongoing legal challenges.

• The Legislature also won’t vote on Senate Bill 393, which was amended to require a 72-hour waiting period before a firearm could be sold to someone with a gun permit.

• Voters likely will get a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to impeach statewide elected officials. The Senate will vote on House Joint Resolution 16, which would go to voters in the 2024 election. If voters pass the amendment, the Legislature could impeach officials with a three-fifths vote in the House and two-thirds vote in the Senate.

• Summaries of bills will be easier to read. The two sides agreed to rewrite summaries that are now too complex for some Oregonians to understand. As part of that agreement, senators presenting bills for a vote will read rewritten summaries aloud and have those new summaries recorded in the Senate journal.

• Constituents of Republican and independent senators may not be able to re-elect their senators. Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, refused to retroactively waive unexcused absences accrued by the striking senators, meaning they’ll be affected by last year’s voter-approved Measure 113, which prohibits lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from serving another term. Republicans intend to challenge the measure in court. 

Deputy editor Julia Shumway and reporter Ben Botkin contributed to this story.

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.