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2013 review: Car crash delays Johnson's legislative participation


JohnsonSen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, had to temporarily sideline in-person participation in the 2013 special session of the Legislature following her involvement and subsequent injury in an April car crash (“Johnson injured in crash, absent from Legislature,” April 26).  

Johnson remains in physical therapy today and has said she is now able to drive for short-distance trips.

“I’m now driving. I’m walking with a cane,” Johnson says. “I’m making progress.”

The crash occurred April 22. Johnson was approaching the Havlik Drive intersection with Highway 30 when she struck a car stopped in front of her. As Johnson exited her car to check on the driver of the vehicle she struck, she realized she was injured.

Johnson, 62, suffered a broken pelvis and had to be transported via ambulance to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. She subsequently missed a month in the legislative session as co-chair of the influential Ways and Means Committee. Johnson was a key swing vote as Democrats held only a narrow 16-14 majority over Republicans in the Senate. While she could participate by phone in legislative discussions, Oregon rules require voting legislators to appear in person.

Several high-profile votes were delayed due to her absence, but, as she says, “I didn’t miss any critical vote.” One example had been legislation that placed further restrictions for parents desiring to exempt their children from immunizations for non-medical reasons. Republicans had filibustered the bill during Johnson’s absence, as Democrats were unable to rally a constitutional majority. Johnson’s return allowed the legislation to pass following a party-line vote. 

Johnson did draw criticism for breaking party lines and opposing Democratic-led legislation on increased gun control and voter registration (“Johnson joins GOP to defeat voter registration bill,” July 12), the latter prompting former head of the Democratic National Committee and presidential candidate Howard Dean on Twitter to call for a challenger to unseat Johnson in the 2014 election.