Oregon Republican walkout over climate bill drags on

The Oregon Capitol remained at a standstill Wednesday with only four days left in the legislative session, and it remains unclear when — or if— the Senate's 11 Republicans will return to the statehouse and end a walkout over a climate bill.

Posted: Jun 26, 2019 3:09 PM
Updated: Jun 26, 2019 3:15 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Capitol remained at a standstill Wednesday with only four days left in the legislative session, and it remains unclear when — or if — the Senate's 11 Republicans will return to the statehouse and end a walkout over a climate bill.

Republicans have now been absent from the statehouse for one week in order to block a vote on a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a cap on carbon. Although Senate President Peter Courtney announced Tuesday that the proposal no longer has support among Democrats, the admission didn't convince conservatives to immediately return.

Negotiations on the Republicans' return continue to remain at an impasse, and a spokesman for Senate Democrats said via email "there's nothing new to report" about where things stand.

Sen. Tim Knopp has told news outlets that he hopes conservatives can return Friday, a day after a planned rally at the Capitol in support of the rogue lawmakers. Senate Republicans for the past few days have been pushing hard over social media to get their constituents to show up to an all-day "Freedom Rally" organized by truckers and loggers in Southern Oregon.

"This rally on Thursday is about we the people displaying our full passion against a Super Majority that is completely disconnected and dismissive of us when it comes to protecting and representing our values, economies, and overall way of life," wrote Sen. Dallas Heard, whose brother is behind the protest.


READ: In Oregon, stark rural-urban divide fuels climate dispute


Knopp, Heard and other Republicans didn't respond to requests for comment.

Conservative senators have said that they've fled the state to avoid taking a vote on what would be the nation's second statewide cap and trade program after California. They say it will kill jobs, raise the cost of fuel and gut small businesses in rural areas.

But the standoff also puts dozens of policies at risk including legislation directly benefiting rural parts of the state. Legislation expanding broadband access and possible extra funding to help prevent wildfires in southern Oregon could be on the chopping block if Senate leadership is unable to coax Republicans back before Sunday.

"We are likely — if Republicans don't come back — to lose a lot of key projects in rural Oregon," Gov. Kate Brown told The Associated Press earlier this week. "You can't move forward on budgets without rural voices being at the table."

Brown said she's willing to call a special session next week if needed, but the dozens of bills currently awaiting Senate approval would be scratched. Lawmakers would have to reintroduce policies and again put them through the legislative process.


READ: Oregon governor says GOP must return to state


The Senate also still needs to approve a majority of the budget, including funding for the state's public universities, foster care system and the state's public health agency.

Brown signed a continuing resolution Tuesday to fund agencies at current operating levels until mid-September. But many agencies who were counting on increased budgets may have to sit tight.

Oregon's seven public universities, for example, were counting on a $100 million funding increase from the Legislature to rein in tuition increases. Kyle Thomas, spokesman for the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, said that the impasse won't affect tuition levels just yet. But that could change if the standoff were to drag on into the summer.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5109348

Reported Deaths: 74802
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153635127246
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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