Oregon Lawmakers to Return to Work After Climate Bill-Killing Walkout

(CN) – Oregon’s Republican state senators said Friday they will be back at work Saturday morning, ending a nine-day walkout calculated to prevent a vote on the state’s Clean Energy Jobs Act, and they must race to finish state business this weekend, or face a special session.

Senate Republicans did not show up for work on June 20, when the chamber was scheduled to take up House Bill 2020, a cap-and-trade, climate change bill that would set targets to reduce the state’s emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. 

Governor Kate Brown sent state troopers after the absentee legislators, one of whom suggested he would shoot troopers if necessary, warning state police to “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, announced Tuesday that H.B. 2020 was dead. Courtney said the bill didn’t have the votes to pass, despite a Democratic supermajority. Despite their striking win, Republicans did not immediately return to work, citing fears that Democrats would immediately introduce H.B. 2020 for a vote.

On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, announced that his caucus would return to the capitol based on the promises of Courtney and Brown, who have both said the legislation will not pass this session.

If Democrats attempt to introduce the climate change bill anyway, Republicans have tools at the ready: They could filibuster to run out the session, or they could stage another walkout.

Legislators have their work cut out for them to close the session by midnight on Sunday and avoid a special session. More than 100 bills are still awaiting a vote, including major budget bills.

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