Oregon Republican state senators have reportedly all left the state Thursday, hoping to avoid the Democratic governor from ordering police to apprehend them and forcing them to vote on climate change legislation.
State Sen. Cliff Bentz told The Oregonian that “in a few moments, I will not be in Oregon” following him debating changes Wednesday with Gov. Kate Brown to a carbon reduction bill that would establish a Climate Policy Office.
The bill has already passed the House and is supported by the governor, with the Senate being its last hurdle.
Republicans have tried to negotiate, saying that “Climate change is a global problem, not an Oregon problem” and say it’ll hurt “energy intensive, trade-exposed” businesses in the state.
Mr. Bentz said they stopped trying to negotiate on Wednesday night when it was clear Democrats would not budge on any portion of the bill.
When Mrs. Brown heard Republicans were mulling over a walkout to stall the bill, she threatened she is “prepared to use all resources and tools available to me as Governor to ensure that Oregonians are being served by their leaders.”
“I am in close communication with Oregon State Police and my office is making preparations for a special session to be held on July 2, 2019 in the event that the business of this state does not conclude by Sine Die,” she said, according to Willamette Week. “We will stay in Salem to work until our job is done.”
This caused an uproar from Republicans, with state Sen. Brian Boquist telling on the Senate floor Wednesday “If you send the state police to get me, Hell’s coming to visit you personally.”
While Democrats hold a supermajority in the Oregon Senate, the Republican absences prevent the chamber from meeting the necessary quorum of 20 members to, preventing passage of legislation.
Democrats reportedly have yet to respond to the sudden Republican absences.