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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

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Confirmed Cases: 21488

Reported Deaths: 357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah496096
Washington311925
Marion293870
Umatilla230228
Clackamas154940
Malheur80414
Deschutes61110
Lane5903
Jackson4732
Yamhill46713
Lincoln4189
Union3942
Morrow3723
Jefferson3714
Polk31912
Linn28410
Klamath2012
Hood River1930
Wasco1923
Benton1696
Douglas1511
Josephine1152
Columbia970
Coos910
Clatsop850
Crook491
Baker400
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman160
Curry150
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 574231

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2105434998
Riverside41983820
Orange40527726
San Bernardino36072546
San Diego32975594
Kern24440171
Fresno17846171
Alameda13631209
San Joaquin12864223
Santa Clara12694205
Sacramento12040177
Tulare10862196
Stanislaus10264169
Imperial9693244
Contra Costa9404139
Ventura863492
San Francisco762367
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6318120
Merced573670
Monterey544635
Marin540481
Kings445356
Solano427441
Sonoma367047
Madera246339
Placer231922
San Luis Obispo225416
Yolo183444
Santa Cruz12436
Butte12388
Napa107411
Sutter9527
San Benito7654
El Dorado7552
Lassen6830
Yuba6464
Mendocino47210
Shasta45910
Colusa3914
Glenn3603
Nevada3571
Humboldt2864
Tehama2761
Lake2402
Amador1822
Mono1581
Tuolumne1553
Calaveras1471
Inyo1063
Siskiyou1020
Del Norte1000
Mariposa622
Plumas360
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra40
Alpine20
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