- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2019

Oregon Senate Republicans are prepared to hunker down out of state until the legislative session adjourns June 30 to block Democrats from passing a “disastrous” cap-and-trade legislation.

Senate Republican Whip Dennis Linthicum said Friday that legislators have no plans to return, despite Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s deployment of state troopers to round up the lawmakers and bring them back to the state capitol in Salem.

“Senate Republicans will run out the clock on the legislative session as the state budget is fine and funded until this storm of false narratives and intimidation passes,” said Mr. Linthicum in a statement.

All 11 Senate Republicans have left Oregon, putting them beyond the jurisdiction of state police, and have kept their whereabouts secret, said Linthicum spokesman Jonathan Lockwood.

What would bring them back? Sen. Herman Baertschiger, Oregon Republican, said Friday he would be willing to return if the Democrats agreed to let the public decide by referring the cap-and-trade plan to the ballot.

“You know, I think the Republicans would really take that into consideration,” Mr. Baertschiger told KXL-FM radio host Lars Larson in a phone interview. “Obviously I’m not with all my members and that would be a membership discussion. That would be good enough for me.”

He said he pushed for the ballot option with Democrats, but that Ms. Brown told him “absolutely not.” The Senate Republicans walked out Thursday shortly after talks on the cap-and-trade bill collapsed.

Meanwhile, Democrats have accused the Senate Republicans of playing hooky. On Friday, the Oregon Democratic Party posted a “wanted” sign with the names and photos of the Republican legislators, calling them “fugitives from justice (and their jobs)!”

“Every day that Oregon Senate Republicans refuse to do their jobs has serious consequences for our climate,” tweeted the Democrats.



Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said the Senate Republicans would be fined $500 per day for each day they are absent and a quorum cannot be reached. The Senate Democrats have 18 members, but need 20 members to establish a quorum.

Mr. Linthicum accused Democrats of threatening to defund projects in their districts.

“They are holding our state hostage for out-of-state, multinational and foreign interests,” he said. “We have extraordinary support and will not allow the governor’s threats or bullying coerce us into voting against Oregonians.”

They may be out of sight, but the Senate Republicans have been plenty busy on social media, tweeting Friday that Ms. Brown herself commended House Democrats when they staged a walk-out in 2001.

Such walkouts are rare but not heard-of. Wisconsin Senate Democrats walked out in 2011 to stop a vote on budget bills, and Texas House Democrats fled in 2003 to block a redistricting bill, according to the Thicket’s Karl Kurtz.

As a state legislator in 1839, Abraham Lincoln famously jumped out a window after the Illinois House Speaker locked the doors of the legislature.

If passed, H.B. 2020 would make Oregon only the second state, behind California, with a cap-and-trade program, which would set a limit on greenhouse-gas emissions and auction off pollution allowances to industries.

The program is aimed at lowering greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 to combat climate change, but Republicans argue it would strangle economic growth and kill jobs, costing the average family of four at least $600 per year.

Ms. Brown has made it clear she will sign the bill, saying the state has “a historic opportunity to protect our children’s futures by building long-term competitiveness while creating good jobs and improving access to affordable energy.”

Hundreds of protesters, led by loggers and a convoy of truckers, turned out Wednesday to protest in Salem, alarmed by the what Mr. Baertschiger called “a monster of a bill.”

“When you have a bill that is this enormous—this changes everybody’s lives in the state of Oregon — I’m not going to be part of letting that being passed,” he said. “Nope, nope, nope.”

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