Oregon House Democrats issue subpoenas for absent Republican colleagues

The House Committee on Rules voted on Thursday to issue subpoenas for Republican lawmakers that have been boycotting the legislature.

Posted: Feb 28, 2020 11:29 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2020 1:40 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Democratic lawmakers left in the absence of House Republicans who have shunned the capitol in protest over cap-and-trade moved on Thursday to issue subpoenas requiring that the errant lawmakers return "to explain their absences."

The House Committee on Rules, now solely populated by Democrats, voted to issue those civil subpoenas Thursday afternoon — demanding that Republican representatives appear for the committee on Thursday, March 5.

The text of the civil subpoenas reads as follows:

By virtue of the authority of and in compliance with ORS 171.510, and following a majority vote of the House Rules Committee on February 27, 2020, I, Paul Holvey, State Representative and Chair of the House Rules Committee, hereby require you to appear before the House Rules Committee at 1pm on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Hearing Room F of the State Capitol, Salem, Oregon, 97301, as a witness before such committee and be prepared to testify about your unexcused absences during the 2020 regular session of the Legislative Assembly, the need for members to fulfill their oaths of office and constitutional duties as legislators by attending sessions of the Legislative Assembly, and how the work of the Legislative Assembly during the 2020 calendar year may be completed.

“This is an extraordinary measure brought on by the extraordinary actions of the House Republican caucus,” said Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, the chair of the House Committee on Rules.

According to a statement from House Democrats, Oregon law allows the chair of a committee to compel attendance of witnesses with a majority vote. Though Democrats have lacked the two-thirds quorum to forward any legislation, they maintain a majority in the capitol.

“We all took an oath to support the Oregon Constitution and faithfully discharge the duties of our office, which requires our attendance when the legislature is in session," Rep. Holvey said. "As I see it, House Republicans are currently in violation of that oath. These Republican legislators owe the people of Oregon an explanation for their absences.”


RELATED: Flanked by allies, southern Oregon counties proclaim 'strong' opposition to cap-and-trade bill


The subpoenas are intended to be served to every member of the House Republican caucus that has been absent and unexcused. House Speaker Tina Kotek reportedly told lawmakers that she'd been in contact with the absent Republicans, asking them to return to work.

Rep. Kotek told Democrats that she'd either received "no commitments" from Republicans on whether they would return, or responses directing her to contact Republican Leader Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby.

Later Thursday evening, Rep. Drazan issued a brief response to the move by Democrats on the committee.

“This is just the latest example of the majority party’s strong-arm tactics designed to end negotiations. We will not be intimidated. We remain resolved to serve the hardworking families of Oregon who have asked for the abuse of power to end and for cap and trade to be referred to the people.”

Republican lawmakers in the Oregon Senate began the walkout on Monday when Democrats moved the cap-and-trade bill from the final committee and toward the Senate floor.

The lack of a quorum has held up all legislation in Salem this week, and politicians have taken to pointing fingers across the aisle as vital funding bills languish. On Friday, the Oregon Food Bank issued a statement calling out Republicans for the legislative gridlock.

“Our statewide network of food banks is incredibly fortunate and proud to have earned the support of a broad, bi-partisan coalition of elected leaders. But we have no hope of achieving our shared mission to end hunger when half that coalition refuses to show up to work. No discussion or decision-making takes place when lawmakers don’t show up to make laws," said Susannah Morgan, CEO of the Oregon Food Bank. “Simply put, the Republican walkout jeopardizes critical anti-hunger initiatives — and our democracy. Oregon families deserve better, and it’s time for Republicans to return to the work we elected them to do.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34937568
Washington23491229
Marion20195299
Clackamas15386204
Lane11591144
Jackson9923127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes712972
Linn416063
Yamhill410175
Klamath349059
Polk344252
Malheur342858
Josephine306362
Douglas304765
Benton273218
Jefferson207032
Coos197531
Columbia154526
Union141624
Lincoln130220
Wasco129128
Hood River112529
Morrow107915
Clatsop8958
Crook88019
Baker85814
Curry5959
Tillamook5813
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

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Cases: 3718210

Reported Deaths: 61038
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Los Angeles122899723653
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2947794555
San Diego2749603674
Orange2689624896
Santa Clara1170812013
Kern1078591322
Sacramento1011721646
Fresno1005621646
Alameda853671477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa67019782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41157560
San Francisco36032523
Santa Barbara33896446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29696311
Imperial27987719
Kings22774245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16260239
Santa Cruz15571204
Marin13861226
Yolo13580200
Shasta11677217
Butte11573196
El Dorado9719109
Napa966679
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598663
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada445775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362551
Humboldt358737
Lake340943
Glenn235725
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
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Alpine880
Unassigned610
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