Oregon Governor Sends Police to Find GOP Senators

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks to reporters in front of pictures of previous state governors in Salem, Ore., Feb. 7, 2019. Gov. Brown deployed the state police Thursday, June 20, 2019, to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan. Minority Republicans want the cap and trade proposal aimed at dramatically lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to be sent to the voters for approval instead of instituted by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

(CN) – Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown authorized state police on Thursday to bring back Republican lawmakers after they fled the Capitol to block a vote on a climate bill that is set to lower the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Senate Republicans walked out of session on Thursday following more than eight hours of failed negotiations on Wednesday, leaving the state Senate with two senators short of a quorum, effectively blocking any votes from taking place.

“As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats’ request,” Brown said in a published statement. “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.”

Under state law, the Oregon State Police can force senators they find to return to the Capitol. In a written statement, however, the agency said it would use “polite communication” to round up the missing lawmakers.

“While we obviously have many tools at our disposal, patience and communication is and always will be our first, and preferred, option,” the police said in the statement.

The Republican lawmakers walked out in an effort to block passage of a cap-and-trade bill that would set limits on the amount of pollution businesses can create and allow them to buy and sell allowances on those limits.

Republican state Sen. Brian Boquist said Wednesday he was ready to hold out in order to block the vote.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” he said. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

Starting Friday, absentee senators will be fined $500 a day they don’t show up to the Capitol. Although Democrats have a majority in the Senate, they don’t have the needed 20 members for a quorum.

This isn’t the first time GOP lawmakers have used this tactic. In May, Republican senators walked out for four days in order to block an education funding bill. Brown made a deal with the lawmakers in order to get the funding package passed.

Just over a week is left in this year’s legislative session and the Senate still has to vote on a budget.

If the cap-and-trade bill becomes law, Oregon will be the second state in the nation to have such a system. California approved of a similar law a decade ago.


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