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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

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21010

Reported Deaths: 355
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah484994
Washington304725
Marion288370
Umatilla225128
Clackamas152340
Malheur76814
Deschutes59610
Lane5793
Jackson4612
Yamhill45013
Lincoln4149
Union3942
Jefferson3554
Morrow3543
Polk31312
Linn27710
Klamath2012
Wasco1893
Hood River1840
Benton1696
Douglas1501
Josephine1142
Columbia940
Coos910
Clatsop850
Crook471
Baker380
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman160
Curry150
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 554388

Reported Deaths: 10307
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Los Angeles2067784967
Riverside40452799
Orange39076720
San Bernardino35452502
San Diego31779586
Kern22626171
Fresno17031171
Alameda13213208
San Joaquin12303211
Santa Clara11475203
Sacramento10795161
Tulare10475196
Imperial9693244
Stanislaus9566161
Contra Costa9022138
Ventura814689
San Francisco743267
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6110120
Marin528779
Monterey521235
Merced501264
Kings445356
Solano402940
Sonoma343147
Madera230239
Placer218620
San Luis Obispo209315
Yolo169043
Santa Cruz12386
Butte10958
Napa104610
Sutter9217
El Dorado7291
San Benito7094
Lassen6380
Yuba5884
Shasta41810
Mendocino38010
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3221
Humboldt2824
Tehama2761
Lake2202
Amador1642
Mono1531
Tuolumne1522
Calaveras1471
Del Norte990
Siskiyou930
Inyo643
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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