Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek pulls back on redistricting deal

6 min read
The Senate passed new political maps Monday, but an ongoing impasse in the House could blow up a highly charged special session.
The Oregon Senate convened to vote on new Congressional and legislative maps as part of the state's redistricting process Monday, Sept. 20. Sam Stites / OPB

House Speaker Tina Kotek on Monday backed out of a deal granting minority Republicans equal say in the state's redistricting process, signaling she'd seek to muscle through new political maps that will advantage her party over strenuous objections by the GOP.


In an announcement that threatens to upend a special legislative session, Kotek announced she was creating two committees to consider new political maps, rather than a single House Redistricting Committee that had been working on the issue for months.

One of the new committees will consider a proposal to pass new congressional maps that are likely to give Democrats five of the state's six congressional seats. Democrats will have a 2-1 advantage on that committee.

The other committee will take up a proposal to rejigger the state's 90 legislative districts. It will be evenly composed of Republicans and Democrats, and contain the all the original members of the House Redistricting Committee. But Kotek also added two new lawmakers to the committee, including state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, a frequent ally of the speaker's on tight votes.

The decision led to quick action.

Late Monday afternoon, the two new committees took up their respective bills. In a meeting of the congressional redistricting committee, Republican Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, her party's lone member on the bo dy , declined to attend. Democratic Reps. Andrea Salinas and Wlnsvey Campos passed the proposal in her absence.

On the committee taking up legislative plans, Smith joined with Democrats to pass their proposal on a 5-3 vote. Both proposals now head to the House floor.

Kotek's maneuver came as a shock to many in the Capitol, who had expected the speaker to honor an agreement she reached with Republicans earlier this year — that she would…
Dirk VanderHart
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