Although the Monsanto Protection Act, SB 863, which the legislature passed in its special session last week, appeared to come from nowhere, it was a remnant of the regular session earlier this year, when it made it through the Senate under the name of SB 633, only to die in the House. Its original sponsors were a bipartisan mix: Democratic Senators Betsy Johnson (Scappoose) and Arnie Roblan (North Bend) and Republican Senators Herman Baertschiger (Central Point), Bill Hansell (Pendleton), and Jeff Kruse (Roseburg). In the regular session, the Senate passed it on not quite party lines: 14 R's and 3 D's voted yes, and 12 D's voted no.
In the special session the bill passed the Senate on the same 17-12 vote, with one interesting switch: Senator Johnson, one of the sponsors of the original bill, voted against it. The final tally was unchanged because Senator Prozanski, who had voted against the first incarnation, did not vote the second time around.
Though designed to prevent local governments from regulating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the bill is written so broadly as to have some unintended effects, including on blackberries and bongs. I'll have some more to say about the bill's side effects presently.