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Hill to Hall Feb. 21–25

Feb. 21: Facing expulsion, Oregon Democratic Lawmaker Rep. Diego Hernandez resigns


State Rep. Diego Hernandez announced his resignation to OPB on Feb. 21, facing an upcoming vote that could have made him the first state lawmaker in Oregon’s history to be expelled from the Legislature. After monthslong allegations of harassment, the Oregon House Conduct Committee concluded Hernandez created a hostile work environment for women, and decided unanimously to bring a vote to expel Hernandez to the full House. Hernandez filed a lawsuit to prevent the vote to expel—however, the effort failed after United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken refused to intervene in the case, insisting the Oregon Legislature has the power to police its own members. Hernandez’s resignation will take effect March 15. 


Feb 24: Portland no longer considered an anarchist jurisdiction under Biden administration


President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday, which included rescinding a memo by the Trump administration labeling three Democrat lead cities as “anarchist jurisdictions,” including Portland. According to The Oregonian, Portland, New York City and Seattle had earned the label in September—from the Justice Department under former President Donald Trump—for meeting certain criteria, including that each city “disempowers or defunds police departments.” The Trump administration also used the designation as a threat to withhold federal funding, leading the cities to file a lawsuit against the administration. 


Feb 25: State Republicans walk out once again 


Republicans staged another boycott against the Oregon Legislature Thursday, denying the State Senate a quorum over Governor Kate Brown’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 11 Republicans and one independent senator skipped the senate’s weekly floor session, demanding Legislation to reopen schools, make speedier efforts towards economic recovery and a have stronger focus on vaccinating seniors, according to OPB. According to Willamette Week, the boycott has yet to have as major of an impact as Republicans’ previous walkouts, which shut down the Legislature in 2019 and 2020 to prevent the passing of climate change Legislation from Democrats—but it could be an indicator for more disruptive disappearances later in the session. 


Feb. 25: Judge dismisses lawsuit against pageant for banning transgender competitors


A federal judge in Portland threw out a lawsuit by a transgender woman against the Miss United States of America pageant corporation, ruling that the company was not breaking any laws by excluding transgender women from its pageants. Anita Noelle Green of Clackamas filed a lawsuit against the organization in 2019, accusing the pageant group of discrimination after being denied the right to compete, according to Willamette Week. However, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled that, because the pageant group resembled more of an expressive association than a commercial business, they are allowed to exclude participants that don’t align with the message they aim to express. According to AP News, the attorney for Miss United States, John T. Kaempf, insisted his client was not transphobic, but only wanted to restrict pageant eligibility to cisgender women.