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Long session could start two weeks earlier

Moving the start date would allow lawmakers to finish their work before the Fourth of July.

The 2019 legislative session could start about two weeks earlier if the legislature passes SB 1542.

The bill would have the session start the day after the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, which falls on the third Monday of January.

Currently, the sessions begin Feb. 1, unless the 1st falls on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, in which case the session begins the following Monday.

The reason for the proposed date change?

Pushing the session back would mean that the constitutional deadline for lawmakers to adjourn would come sooner, and that means being able to return to districts before the Fourth of July, said the bill's carrier, State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene.

Prozanski noted during a recent committee hearing that legislators tend to get "grumpy" after the Legislature is still in session after July 4. In the 2017 session, lawmakers adjourned July 7, and, anecdotally.

The Constitution requires that the legislature finish its business in odd-numbered years within 160 days.

The Oregon Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill on Thursday, with two Republican Senators voting against it.

State Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, who voted against the bill, was blunt in his criticism on the Senate floor:

"If Floyd wants to be at home with his family so bad on July 4, don't run."