BY Jeremy Ruark | St. Helens Chronicle | September 19, 2021

The Oregon Legislature is to convene Monday, Sept. 20, in a special legislative session to adopt new congressional and legislative district maps, as the next step in the census and redistricting process, but one one group is opposing the state legislature’s redistricting efforts.

“We believe Oregon voters should choose their politicians. Politicians should not choose their voters,” People Not Politicians (PNP) Chairman Norman Turrill said, adding that PNP seeks an independent redistricting commission.

Turrill said PNP is a diverse coalition of organizations, and he referred The Chronicle to the group’s website that lists such organizations as Common Cause of Oregon, League of Woman Voters, the Oregon Farm Bureau, and the Independent Party of Oregon as sponsors.

The current process

The special session will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20. The Oregon Constitution directs the state legislature to reapportion legislative districts every 10 years, following the U.S. Census.

“In Oregon, we believe your vote is your voice, and every voice matters,” Gov. Kate Brown said. “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.”

According to the Oregon Supreme Court, the deadline for the Oregon Legislature to complete redistricting plans for state legislative districts and federal congressional districts is Sept. 27, 2021.

Portland State Sen. Kathleen Taylor is the Oregon Legislature’s Redistricting Committee Chair. Taylor’s Legislative Director Katherine Morrison told The Chronicle in a published interview last April, that the benefits for Oregon with an additional congressional district include greater representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“So Oregonians’ voices are heard proportionately in the federal legislature,” she said. “It also gives Oregon an additional vote in the electoral college, which will increase Oregon’s influence in presidential elections. As our population has grown, Oregon can expect to see a greater portion of federal dollars to support our students, our infrastructure and human services.”

Oregon’s currently Congressional delegation includes, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Cliff Bentz, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader.