SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown on Friday called for the Oregon legislature to convene a special session in order to adopt new congressional and legislative district maps. The session is scheduled to begin on Monday, September 20.
The Oregon constitution calls for the legislature to reapportion legislative districts every ten years after the new US Census. Though delayed by the pandemic, the 2020 Census successfully wrapped up in October, and Oregon officials learned in April that the state would be one of a handful in the nation to gain a new Congressional seat.
“In Oregon, we believe your vote is your voice, and every voice matters,” said Governor Brown. “This special session is an opportunity for legislators to set aside their differences and ensure Oregon voters have their voices heard at the ballot box. Based on my conversations with legislative leaders, and the ongoing public testimony we are hearing from Oregonians across the state this week, I believe the Legislature is ready to begin the next step of the redistricting process.”
Oregon House and Senate committees composed of equal parts Democrats and Republicans revealed the options for Oregon's redrawn legislative and Congressional districts earlier this month, kicking off a series of virtual public hearings to gather input. The hearings end September 13.
The Oregon Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State ex rel Kotek v. Fagan that the deadline for the legislature to complete the redistricting process will be September 27 after lawmakers passed a bill allowing for an extension to that date. If the legislature fails to adopt new maps by that date, the duty falls to Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan who has pledged to create a People's Commission of Oregonians to advise her.
A group called People Not Politicians is again championing a ballot measure, this time for 2022, that would remove the redistricting process from lawmakers and put it in the hands of a bipartisan commission. A similar push in 2020 ultimately faltered amid the pandemic after the Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling that would have given the group more time to gather signatures.