News

Oregon GOP senators walk out; OSP looking for them

Say 'out of state resources' are assisting

Senate Republicans walk out of session

(Update: GoFundMe page started to pay senators' fines; OSP using 'out of state resources')

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -  None of the Oregon Senate's 12 Republicans appeared for a vote Thursday on what could be the nation's second statewide cap and trade law, and Gov. Kate Brown authorized the Oregon State Police to go find them and return them to Salem. But some, if not all, are out of state.

Senate President Peter Courtney asked Brown to deploy the state police to physically compel members back to the Statehouse.

Members will be fined $500 a day starting Friday for every day Republicans continue to delay a vote.

OSP said "out-of-state resources" are helping them as they try to compel the 12 Republicans to return to Salem. They said Thursday evening only that resources outside the state were assisting them and that they had no additional comment.

Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Gillem confirmed that some members left the state to avoid a vote because state police don't have jurisdiction outside Oregon.

State police also said the agency had been in contact with several of the lawmakers. At least one was reportedly in Idaho.

Courtney said he "had no choice" but to call the Oregon State Police and added, "This is the saddest day of my legislative life."

He begged Republicans to return to take a vote, calling their behavior "extraordinarily dangerous and explosive."

A Go Fund Me page to raise money to pay the fines for the 12 Oregon senators had collected $4,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

The fines will begin Friday if enough GOP senators remain absent to prevent a vote on the cap-and-trade bill.

Under a cap and trade program, the state would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution "allowances" for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit.

Republicans want the proposal, aimed at lowering the state's greenhouse gas emissions, to be sent to the voters for approval. A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans said Thursday that negotiations with Democrats fell apart late Wednesday evening, prompting conservatives to pursue a walkout.

The spokeswoman also confirmed that some members have even left the state to avoid a vote. State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, confirmed he was among those who did so.

The governor's office said Wednesday that Gov. Brown was preparing to deploy the State Police to physically compel members back to the statehouse -- a move she took Thursday.

However, Oregon State Police doesn't have jurisdiction beyond state lines.

OSP issued this statement Thursday afternoon:

"State Senators left the Salem area before various bills made it through our legislative process to a final vote. A bill cannot move forward to a vote without a quorum. The departure of the Senators leaves the Senate without the minimum number of members required to constitute a quorum, so the legislative process has stalled.   

"Consistent with the provisions in the Oregon Constitution, the Senate President requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring Senators back to the capital to resume the legislative process. Consistent with her authority under Oregon law (ORS 181.050), the Governor has directed OSP to provide that assistance. 

"OSP has assisted in resolving a similar situation in the past, and, with the help of diplomats from both sides of the aisle, the Department has done so in a peaceful, gentle, and process-supporting way which allowed members of our Legislature to return to work without forfeiting the good relationships essential to moving forward collaboratively and productively.

"Oregon State Police serves the Governor in her elected role as leader of Oregon’s Executive Branch of government, and she has now given a lawful directive which OSP is fully committed to executing. OSP is utilizing established relationships to have polite communication with these Senators. While we obviously have many tools at our disposal, patience and communication is and always will be our first, and preferred, option.

"OSP will work with the Governor’s office and members of the Legislature to find the most expeditious way to bring this matter to a peaceful and constructive conclusion.

"No further information will be provided at this time," the OSP statement concluded.

Democrats want to pass cap and trade, a free market solution to lower industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Cap and trade is a top priority for Democrats, who view the program as a way to meet the state's emission goals.

Republicans walked out of the Senate earlier this session in protest of a school funding tax package.  The standoff lasted four days, until the governor struck a deal to table legislation on gun control and vaccine requirements.

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News release from Gov. Kate Brown:

Governor Brown Authorizes State Police to Bring Back Senate Republicans

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today released the following statement on the Oregon Senate's request for assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring back the Senate Republicans:

“After many hours of well-intentioned, respectful negotiations on Wednesday, the Senate has come to an impasse. The Senate Republicans have decided to abandon their duty to serve their constituents and walk out. The Senate Democrats have requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring back their colleagues to finish the work they committed to push forward for Oregonians. As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats’ 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. They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do.”

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News release from Oregon Senate Democrats:

Statement by Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick on Senate Republican walkout

SALEM – Oregon Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) released the following statement this morning regarding the walkout staged by the Oregon Senate Republicans:

“Oregonians are hard workers. Whether we are rural or urban we show up to work every day to do the job we are paid to do. The Senate Republicans’ walkout is a slap in the face to all hard-working Oregonians, particularly to those in their districts. The taxpayers are paying them to do a job for their constituents, and they are not doing that job. Yet they are collecting their salaries and per diem payments for not doing their jobs. This is not the example we should set for our children.”


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