A state version of cap and trade has been making its way through the Oregon legislature this year. The bill passed the House last week, with two democrats joining the republicans in a futile effort to oppose it. Now that the bill is in the state Senate, all 11 republicans who make up the minority have apparently fled the state in order to deny the democrats a quorum so that no business can take place on the Senate floor.
After pleading with republicans to return, the democrats have asked Governor Kate Brown to exercise her authority to dispatch the state police to arrest the missing republicans and forcibly drag them to the capitol building.
Oregon’s Democratic governor, Kate Brown, has dispatched state troopers to find missing Republican senators and bring them back to Salem to legislate.
All 11 Republican senators are in hiding, at least some of them out of state, in order to prevent the Senate from having the quorum it needs to operate. They can’t abide the Democrat-backed carbon cap and spend bill that is up for a Senate vote today.
When Republicans failed to show up on the Senate floor for today’s 11 a.m. session, Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem, a Democrat, asked the sergeant at arms to search the Capitol for the missing lawmakers. That search proved fruitless.
In response to the walkout, Courtney formally requested that Brown dispatch Oregon State Police troopers to round up the missing Republicans.
Brown quickly granted that request. “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building,” she said in a statement. “They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do.”
Speaking on the partially vacant Senate floor, Courtney said, “I apologize to the citizens for taking (state troopers) off the streets to look for (missing lawmakers).”
Oregon’s constitution allows the majority party to “compel” the attendance of absent members of the legislature. The process is rarely used, though.
In 2001, Oregon Senate Democrats walked out and hid to stop a vote on a Republican legislative redistricting bill. They stayed away, bringing Senate business to a halt, for almost a week.
The senate Republicans have issued this statement:
Senate Republicans made the decision to walkout and have left the state to protest cap and trade because it should be referred to the ballot so every Oregonian has a voice. #capkillsjobs pic.twitter.com/Cwszwvdsbx
— Oregon Senate Republicans (@ORSenateRs) June 20, 2019
A few days ago, republican Senator Brian Boquist issued veiled threats to anyone who might come to drag him away, talking about how heavily armed he is:
Tensions were already smoldering in the Oregon Senate Wednesday, when Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, poured gasoline on the situation, suggesting he would shoot and potentially kill any state trooper sent to haul him unwillingly back to the Capitol.