Oregon Republicans Stage Walkout Over Latest Cap-and-Trade Bill

(CN) – For the second year in a row, Oregon’s Republican state senators say they will flee the capitol to prevent the Democratic majority from advancing a cap-and-trade bill.

Republicans announced the move after Democrats voted to send Senate Bill 1530 out of committee. A floor vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Oregon capitol building in Salem.

Republicans, who called for the bill to be decided by voters instead of legislators, said Democrats’ refusal backed them into a corner where their only choice was to flee, thereby denying Democrats the quorum they need for Wednesday’s vote. The Oregon Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of the state Senate to be present for floor votes. To meet that threshold, at least two Republicans must be present.

Like Senate Bill 2020 – the legislation that Senate Republicans said justified their desertion of the capitol last year – SB 1530 would gradually reduce the carbon emissions allowed under Oregon law over the coming decades, while increasing the price per ton of carbon companies must pay to emit. But SB 1530 has drawn criticism from environmentalists who say it is a watered-down version of last year’s bill with amendments to delay its implementation in rural areas of the state.

Despite Democrats’ efforts to make cap-and-trade more palatable for Republicans, conservative leaders said Monday that Democrats were using “partisan politics” to move the bill forward. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, had joined the morning’s vote to move the bill out of committee after Betsey Johnson, D-Scappoose, opposed the bill.

“Senator Courtney’s actions leave no other option for Senate Republicans but to boycott and deny quorum because cap-and-trade is on the way to the Senate floor,” Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, said Monday in a statement. “Democrats refused to work with Republicans and denied every amendment that was presented.”

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