On Wednesday, Oregon Senator Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, ground the budget/tax express to a screech halt with his vote aligning with Senate Republicans on the first of two major tax bills - a vote just enough to defeat the House-passed first bill (and by implication, the second) on the Senate floor.
This morning, reversal. "I believe it's okay to say, 'stop the music,'" he said of his Wednesday vote - but today he opted to restart it, rejoining the other Senate Democrats on two key bills (3405 and 2649) which fill in the last of the budget pieces. Things had changed, he said, including some legislation proceeding in the House, including some changes in the rainy day fund and elsewhere. He made allusion, though, to intensive discussions with other legislators "over the last 12 hours," and no doubt they were intensive. Would've been a great fly-on-the-wall situation.
The Republicans knew it was coming: Wednesday, there was little Republican debate on the bills, but today, there was plenty - most of the Senate Republicans (all in opposition to the bills) had their say on the floor. There were some unusually passionate debates, on both sides (Larry George and Brian Boquist standing out among the Republicans, and Vicki Walker among the Democrats). Hass spoke but relatively briefly.
The upshot this morning is that the Senate did pass both both bills, with just the 18 votes needed.
Just before the debate began, Majority Leader Richard Devlin made a passing reference to the speedy approach of sine die adjournment. After this morning's action, it surely got a little closer than it seemed yesterday afternoon.