facebook linkedin twitter

Republican State Lawmakers In Oregon Go Missing Ahead of Climate Change Vote

June 24, 2019 by Dan McCue

Eleven Senate Republicans in Oregon high-tailed it out of the state capitol of Salem this past week, and the Democratic governor has ordered state police to go and round them up.

At issue is a vote on House Bill 2020, a sweeping climate bill that would make Oregon the second U.S. state, after California, to mandate economy-wide reductions in emissions.

As mandated by the bill, emissions from every sector of the state’s economy would need to decline 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The bill would also bring Oregon into a regional carbon trading system, the Western Climate Initiative.

The Republican senators, all of whom oppose the bill, claim that if passed, it would devastate their districts.

The problem for Republicans is they have only one way to see that the measure doesn’t pass — to run.

Though Democrats currently have supermajorities in both chambers of Oregon’s legislature, they need at least two Republicans to be present to hold a quorum to conduct business. The walkout by all of the Republican members of the Senate, has brought the chamber to a standstill.

On Friday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, also a Democrat, sent the state police to retrieve them, and also imposed a fine of $500 a day, per senator, for each day they don’t show up for work.

In doing so, Brown relied on a provision in the state constitution that states lawmakers can be compelled to attend a floor session in the Senate. There is also a state law that says the governor can order the state police to enforce that rule.

Because there are rumors that some of the fleeing Republicans may be hiding out in Idaho or Montana, Oregon’s state police are coordinating their search for lawmakers with counterparts in those two states.

As of Monday morning, none of the Republicans had been found.

Last Thursday, the day the Republicans took off, Brown expressed disappointment over what she sees as a misguided stunt.

“It would have been historic for Oregon, historic for the country, and frankly historic for the world,” she said of the climate bill shortly after the senators disappeared.

“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have failed to show up and failed to do their jobs,” she said.

In announcing her decision to call out the Oregon State Police Brown said the missing Republicans had turned “their backs on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent in this building.”

The Republicans, who want significant changes to be made to the bill, remained defiant on Monday, the fifth day in a row their absence from the state capital prevented a vote on the climate change.

Oregon Senate Republican leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said in a statement that Republicans were being “bullied by the majority party.”

Another Republican state senator, Brian Boquist, went further, taking to Twitter to threaten the police who are trying to find the wayward lawmakers.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner,” Boquist said.

Also showing up on social media posts were right-wing militia members vowing to protect Republicans if police come for them.

The Oregon Capitol building was then shut down on Saturday due to a “possible militia threat.” A group of local Republicans were expected to protest inside the Capitol that afternoon and anti-government groups, including the Oregon Three Percenters, threatened to join in support, thereby prompting state police to recommend the closure.

The GOP lawmakers have distanced themselves from those statements and said they don’t condone them.

A GoFundMe campaign aimed at covering fines for the wayward lawmakers has already exceeded its $20,000 goal. The fund-raiser raked in more than $22,000 in less than 24 hours.

“Please support their decision to protect your family against this disastrous bill. All the money raised will pay for expenses for the senators,” the campaign’s page said over the weekend. “The ruling majority has prohibited them from raising funds on their own.”

Exactly how — and when — it will all end is anybody’s guess.

In May, the Republicans avoided the Oregon Senate chamber for four days to extract concessions in a school funding bill.

What’s different this time is the ticking of the clock. The Oregon legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 30, and the fate of several bills — not to mention the state budget — hangs in the balance.

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