Oregon Republicans 'willing to return' to the legislature on March 8, Senate leader says

Republicans in the Oregon legislature have been boycotting the legislature to deny a quorum on a cap-and-trade bill.

Posted: Mar 5, 2020 10:03 AM
Updated: Mar 5, 2020 11:59 AM

SALEM, Ore. — Republican lawmakers in the Oregon Senate announced on Thursday that they would be "willing to return" to the legislature on Sunday, March 8 — but only for the purpose of passing emergency budget bills.

“After a tumultuous session, Senate Republicans are willing to attend the Sunday floor session to pass emergency budget bills, for example, the relief for flood victims in Eastern Oregon," said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass. "The intent of the short session was to make budget adjustments, and that is what we expect to work on while being fiscally responsible with the hard-earned taxpayer dollars."


RELATED: Oregon Democratic lawmakers consider rule changes aimed at preventing future walkouts


Republicans in the Senate left the capitol more than a week ago, protesting a cap-and-trade bill that they say would be devastating for rural Oregon. They have insisted that the bill be referred to the voters, in addition to claiming that the bill does not belong in a short legislative session.

Democrats issued a statement on Wednesday night, decrying the walkout and the inertia of critical budget and other funding bills. Legislation aimed at addressing the state's housing and homelessness crisis, mental health system, and wildfire preparation were among the bills left adrift, Democrats said.

“These budgets are remarkable pieces of legislation. They benefit every corner of Oregon – every Oregonian,” Senate President Peter Courtney said. “The fact that a few members are preventing us from carrying out our oaths of office, preventing us from voting on bills and budgets, is heartbreaking. We have stayed in the Capitol. We have worked. We have done literally all we can do without a quorum. It’s time for my fellow legislators to return to work and uphold their oaths.”

In the Republicans' absence, Democratic lawmakers say that they have moved all the budget and policy bills out of the joint budget committee.

One bill on the docket includes a $51 million infusion to the state's ailing Department of Forestry, which announced recently that it was in desperate need of additional funding ahead of the coming fire season.

The prospect of a similar reunification appeared possible in the Oregon House following a statement from House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby.

“The House Republican Caucus broadly agrees with the funding priorities identified in yesterday’s press release from Speaker Kotek and President Courtney. House Republicans will provide a quorum and the rules suspensions necessary to pass these funding priorities on Sunday, March 8th, before the legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn.”

However, a response from House Speaker Tina Kotek issued shortly before noon on Thursday indicated that Republicans' desire to "cherry pick which bills live and die" might not fly.

“Republicans from both chambers have walked off the job for two weeks of this five-week session. Their intentional absences have created an enormous backlog of bills, bills that will benefit Oregonians across the state," Kotek said.  “The only deal I will agree to is if Republicans in both chambers return and agree to take a floor vote on every bill that has earned support through the public process that governs our legislative body.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 397421

Reported Deaths: 5299
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61160856
Washington42725408
Marion40378520
Clackamas33323391
Lane30531364
Jackson25267363
Deschutes24034198
Umatilla15178184
Linn15004184
Douglas13635295
Josephine10388249
Yamhill9916145
Klamath9144153
Polk8384103
Benton624440
Malheur594093
Coos5854109
Columbia442156
Jefferson427268
Lincoln369155
Crook345558
Union341857
Wasco320747
Clatsop265835
Baker223133
Tillamook220646
Hood River218637
Morrow198925
Curry194639
Harney121933
Grant109216
Lake106418
Wallowa76513
Sherman1953
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5128725

Reported Deaths: 74953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153845127262
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3370455783
Sacramento1699162462
Kern1590231841
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241514
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus923321436
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511315
Shasta26353465
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793980
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163818
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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