Frustrating end to the session

Senator Wagner

Is this what democracy looks like?

As an elected State Senator, my oath of office is a sacred charge.  Under the Constitution of the State of Oregon, I am duty bound to come to the Oregon Capitol to represent my constituents. I consider legislation, make my case, and vote consistent with the wishes of my constituents and their values. Please see the article I wrote for our local papers for an explanation of why the recent walkouts are an attack on our democracy.

Over the past 10 months in the Oregon Senate, a handful of Republicans have walked out three times and gone on a taxpayer funded vacation - leaving the state for 30 days and shutting down our government.  The first walkout was over funding our schools, public health and sensible gun safety legislation. The second and third walkouts were over addressing our global climate emergency. Threats were even made against state police and the Senate President if they sought to compel Republicans’ attendance.  This last walkout cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars and killed bills and budgets that are vital to Oregon.  

Why do walkouts happen?

Oregon is the only state in the nation that has legislative sessions with required end dates and a two-thirds quorum requirement to conduct the affairs of state. This allows legislators to run out the clock on the legislature’s work, setting a dangerous precedent for future sessions.  As former Republican State Representative Lane Shetterly said in testimony last week - “If walkouts to deny a quorum are accepted, they will become expected.”

Where do we go from here?

Elections matter. Public opinion does not support abusing our constitution and taking taxpayer funded vacations to avoid voting on tough issues.  I will be working to support accountability measures for people who walk off the job and expect to have lobbyists and special interests pay their way.  This week, the Governor will be using her executive authority to announce measures to address our climate emergency, and may be calling legislators in for a special session.

My bills and priorities that died

Working with a talented constituent, my priority bill this session would have made a technical fix to Oregon law so that vulnerable youth between the ages of 18 and 21 could ask an Oregon court to appoint a trusted adult as their guardian. The bill would have protected an estimated 70-100 young people in Oregon each year from the threats of homelessness, trafficking, and sexual assault. If you’d like to learn more about the bill, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is available here and you can click on the photo below to see my speech on the Senate floor.



Some of my other priorities were securing $3 million for Children's Advocacy Centers so that abused children could receive trauma-informed care, and providing easier pathways for students to transfer credits between institutions of higher education.

A special moment from session

When I worked as a legislative aide in the late 1990s, I donated blood for the American Red Cross and signed up for the Be The Match Registry. This registry connects those with healthy bone marrow to those in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Chrissy was seven years old at the time and in critical condition with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Out of incredible good fortune, my bone marrow was a match. Non-familial matches are extremely rare, so I chose to move forward through the donation process. 

Chrissy reached out over the years by sending a birthday card, and eventually connecting over Facebook. She traveled to Oregon in mid-February and we had the opportunity to meet for the first time. Click on the photo below to see my speech on the Senate floor welcoming Chrissy to Oregon.


Resources for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you haven't already signed up to receive updates from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) on Coronavirus (COVID-19), please do so at this link.

OHA has made a variety of informative videos about the virus, when you should seek treatment, and how to properly wash your hands.


In the community - upcoming town halls


I'm also organizing a town hall series focused on children's well-being

  • Representative Rachel Prusak; Melissa Erlbaum, Clackamas Women's Services; and Chris Coughlin, Children First for Oregon
    Sunday, March 22, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
    West Linn Public Library, Community Room
    1595 Burns St, West Linn, OR 97068, USA

Save the dates! Locations and additional details for the April and May town halls will be sent out in the coming weeks.

  • Sunday, April 5, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
  • Sunday, April 19, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
  • Sunday, May 3, 2:00 - 4:00 PM

I look forward to seeing you at these town halls!

Favorite photos from session

session favorites

Thank you for reading my newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or comments.


Senator Rob Wagner


email: I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-215, Salem, OR, 97301