Every bill that comes before the state Senate this session will receive a “no” vote from Sen. Dallas Heard unless members of the public are allowed back into the building.
Currently, the Capitol is closed to the public for COVID-19 safety reasons.
But Heard, who in December pulled off his mask on the Senate floor in protest of safety rules, thinks the building should be reopened.
Heard said the Oregon Constitution requires all legislative deliberations be open.
“That means open, unimpeded, and fair opportunities for the people to engage their Legislature. Legislatures across the country are finding ways of allowing the people in, yet the Democrat supermajority and its leadership have taken the liberty upon themselves to ban ‘we the people’ from the Capitol building,” Heard said in a press release.
He also said virtual committee meetings have been discriminatory, blocking people who can’t afford the internet from participating.
He said it’s been heartbreaking to watch people trying to navigate an unfamiliar virtual environment.
“I have seen older Oregonians frantically trying to get their mic to work, and have seen the pain in their eyes as the Chairs move on,” he said.
He also objected to virtual committee meetings being resumed while people in many parts of the state still were without power due to last month’s ice storms.
He called the virtual sessions “twisted and perverted.”
“I will continue to be a ‘no’ vote on every bill until the people are allowed back into their building and we can move forward with an honest and open process,” he said.