A Minority Report When There is No Minority

This week, something rare in parliamentary procedure happened in the Oregon legislature: A minority report was passed in the House and approved by the Senate.

Two House Democrats voted in favor of the minority report offered by Republicans for Senate Bill 301, which is a housekeeping bill dealing with the federal tax code. Michelle Cole at The Oregonian has a summary of SB 301 and its contents.

A minority report is an alternative set of amendments offered in committee by members who voted against the the bill as it passed.

What's interesting about this minority report is that there is no political minority in the Oregon House, which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The bill passed out of the House Revenue Committee with support from Republicans because the committee membership is also evenly divided.

Dissenting Republicans served notice of the minority report, which included some business tax credits left out of the bill. On the House floor Monday, Democrats Mike Schaufler of Happy Valley and Jeff Barker of Aloha joined Republicans to pass the minority report of SB 301 instead of the amended version approved by the committee.

That in itself is a very rare occurrence in the Oregon legislature. But then the following day, the Democrat-led Senate approved SB 301 with the minority report changes.

That the Democrat-controlled Senate would go along with a Republican minority report from the House is the clearest evidence to date that legislators are setting aside partisan bickering in favor of moving forward in the 2011 session.