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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.

Cases: 309841

Reported Deaths: 3569
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50840642
Washington34683272
Marion32181388
Clackamas26315270
Lane23632246
Jackson20753255
Deschutes16401100
Umatilla12552125
Douglas10599185
Linn1030285
Josephine8536163
Yamhill737299
Klamath637891
Polk617770
Malheur475867
Benton454027
Coos406469
Columbia320237
Jefferson310446
Lincoln272829
Union266036
Wasco236739
Crook212137
Clatsop210225
Tillamook179623
Baker171920
Morrow166621
Curry166317
Hood River161635
Harney77115
Grant7538
Lake6608
Wallowa50111
Gilliam1364
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4620663

Reported Deaths: 67781
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144072125799
Riverside3561924786
San Diego3481004002
San Bernardino3456445474
Orange3135295344
Sacramento1494582070
Santa Clara1398391835
Fresno1347291868
Kern1343971515
Alameda1155381318
Ventura972861115
San Joaquin965701608
Contra Costa95152917
Stanislaus800341229
Tulare72268894
San Mateo51984607
San Francisco51582605
Monterey49321562
Solano43887312
Santa Barbara42872497
Sonoma39192376
Merced38977532
Placer36118358
Imperial34105753
Kings29822280
San Luis Obispo28136310
Madera21520258
Butte20994230
Shasta20308276
Santa Cruz20066211
Yolo19040239
Marin17020242
El Dorado15864127
Sutter12955152
Napa1219395
Yuba915461
Nevada839485
Humboldt819084
Tehama810983
San Benito706167
Mendocino676471
Lassen634127
Tuolumne605593
Lake596487
Amador486658
Glenn394630
Siskiyou383241
Calaveras334566
Del Norte330134
Colusa289718
Inyo164939
Mono14625
Plumas12076
Mariposa96712
Trinity70510
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1170
Alpine990
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