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Lawmakers stripped of committees amid workplace culture change

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland. (Jaime Valdez/Portland Tribune)

SALEM – Growing political tensions at the Legislature boiled over Thursday as House Speaker Tina Kotek stripped a powerful Portland Democrat of two committee chairmanships because of his behavior.

Kotek at the same time booted a Republican legislator off a committee, justifying both steps as moves to keep governance in the Capitol civil.

She acted, she said in a statement, “to uphold the new standards we are all trying to model.”

Committee placements are not just a matter of ceremony or title. Chairs have significant influence over legislation, with authority to kill a bill by never giving it a hearing or advancing legislation to a floor vote.

Legislators came into the session already under a cloud over behavior, relating to complaints and investigations of harassment of legislative employees and . . .