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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Political Impasse Could Lead To Lengthy Floor Sessions In Salem

Chris Phan
Flickr -

A political showdown at the Oregon Capitol could result in some very long floor sessions this month. And at the heart of the debate is a clause in the state Constitution that dates back to 1859.

Technically, every bill in the Oregon Legislature has to be read out loud the entire way through. But there's an easy out: Lawmakers can suspend that requirement with a two-thirds vote. And they always do, as far back as anyone in Salem can remember. In fact, they generally suspend the rule for the entire legislative session.

This year Republicans haven't agreed to that. They say the five-week session is so chock full of major policy bills that they want to give lawmakers another chance to hear the measure before voting.

But some bills are dozens of pages long and could potentially take an hour or more to read out loud. The House Clerk's office is considering the use of a computer program to speed things up.

But for now, the plan in both the House and Senate is to have a human read the bills out loud. Republicans say they might relent some time before the session is over.

The "read aloud" policy will get its first significant test on Thursday. The House is considering five bills that add up to 13 pages.