facebook linkedin twitter

Oregon Climate Bill Is Dead, But Republican Lawmakers Still AWOL

June 28, 2019 by Elin Johnson
The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem, Ore., on October 12, 2018. A planned meeting for Oregon senators on Saturday, June 22, 2019, was canceled amid threats from militia groups, who authorities said intended to demonstrate outside the capitol building in support of 11 Republican lawmakers, likely hiding out in a different state to avoid a vote on climate-change legislation. (Walter Arce/Dreamstime/TNS)

With only days left in Oregon’s legislative session, a Democrat-backed climate bill is dead, and the awol Republican state senators who helped kill it now appear to be considering what to demand before they agree to return.

Last week 11 Republican state senators bolted out of the state Capitol and went into hiding to deny the Democrats the quorum they needed to vote on a cap and trade bill

As it happened, the Democrats were a vote shy of passing the bill anyway, a point they conceded on Wednesday. But that still left the matter of the wandering Republicans, who still want to claim a victory from a stunt that has garnered them international attention.

A spokesman for state Senate Democrats said Thursday “there’s nothing new to report” about the negotiations for the Republican’s return, and published reports suggest some of the wayward GOP lawmakers are now pushing for a delay in a statewide vote on Oregon’s new business tax for education until November 2020.

Both the House and Senate have approved the tax, in a bill called the Student Success Act, and Governor Kate Brown has signed it.

But opponents of the bill, led by the state manufacturers’ alliance, have vowed to gather enough signatures to put the tax up for a public vote. To do that, they need to collect at least 75,000 signatures. If they succeed the tax would be on the November 2020 ballot.

But the Democrats want to move the vote up to January 2020 and had planned to vote on a measure authorizing that date on either Thursday or Friday — all dependent on the Republicans coming back.

Tracked down by the Oregonian newspaper, which reached him in his car is Idaho, Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger hinted at some dissention in his party’s ranks and that internal discussions over what to ask for are “extremely sensitive.”

He also suggested his caucus members may already have backed off the Student Success Act delay, although he wouldn’t say so definitively.

If Democrats were to agree to postpone a vote on the tax until November 2020 to appease Republicans, that could delay the tax from taking effect for nearly a year even if voters approve it.

If that happened, published reports suggest it would cause a $266 million shortfall in the K-12 school budget for the 2019-2020 school year and delay $1 billion in improvements in public schools and early childhood programs slated for 2020-2021.

For her part, Governor Brown has repeatedly said the Senate Republicans have “turned their backs on Oregonians and they are turning their backs on the democratic process.”

In an interview with CBS, Brown said “Oregonians should be furious. This is unacceptable. In Oregon this is not how we solve problems.”

The stand-off has also blown up on Twitter.

The Oregon Senate Republican Twitter account, @Oregonsenators, quoted Brown from her days as the Senate Democratic Leader saying “under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us and stage a similar boycott.” 

This was in reference to a 2001 situation during which House Democrats walked out.

Democratic State Representative Paul Evans then took to Twitter to imply his awol colleagues are terrorists.  

“My own military experience taught me the difference between respectful diplomacy and giving in to terrorists,” Evans wrote adding “negotiating with people who are not invested in shared outcomes … is a dangerous path.”

Earlier this week, Republican Representative E. Wener Reschke and House Republican Leader Carl Wilson of Grants Pass issued a joint statement through the Oregon House Republican Office in which they claimed it wasn’t the GOP that had changed, but the Democrats, who strayed from their longtime centrist traditions.

“HB 2020 was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the Republicans said. “But there is a far more fundamental reason for the Senate Republican absence from the State Capitol and that has to do with the strong-arming Democrat leadership who have a supermajority in both House and Senate as well as control the Governor’s office. 

“This absolute control on this legislative process has meant that Democrat leadership could do whatever they want, and indeed they have,” they said.

This legislative session ends on June 30.

State News

California Oil Spill Renews Calls to Ban Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara spill that sparked the modern environmental movement, and the latest spill off Huntington Beach is prompting fresh calls for an end to such drilling. That's easier... Read More

September 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner
State and Local Governments Will Drive Broadband Deployment Success

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed... Read More

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed for nationwide high-speed broadband within President Biden’s infrastructure bill.  The broadband-related funding of the bill itself shows the federal government recognizes broadband as essential as a... Read More

April 22, 2021
by TWN Staff
New Caucus Aims to Bring Main Street Priorities to Capitol Hill

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that... Read More

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More

April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff
35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs... Read More

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More

Plan Afoot to Extend PPP Deadline to May 31

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House... Read More

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More

March 2, 2021
by TWN Staff
Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the... Read More

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5.  That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top