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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.

Confirmed Cases: 43793

Reported Deaths: 673
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9502166
Marion6024109
Washington599178
Umatilla343545
Clackamas326766
Lane246727
Malheur194938
Jackson17967
Deschutes118513
Yamhill101315
Linn84515
Polk66815
Jefferson60710
Morrow5517
Lincoln51813
Union4842
Benton4636
Klamath4223
Douglas3688
Wasco34916
Hood River2841
Columbia2711
Josephine2703
Coos2601
Clatsop2480
Baker1403
Crook1132
Tillamook740
Curry581
Wallowa492
Lake430
Harney350
Sherman200
Grant120
Gilliam110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 923648

Reported Deaths: 17559
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3050707044
Riverside675521306
San Bernardino641311073
Orange594421468
San Diego55898885
Kern34114420
Fresno31195439
Sacramento25882499
Santa Clara24665404
Alameda23636463
San Joaquin21988492
Contra Costa18877243
Stanislaus17814400
Tulare17730291
Ventura14409166
Imperial13023338
San Francisco12277145
Monterey1153892
San Mateo11278159
Santa Barbara9886126
Sonoma9601136
Merced9588155
Kings848683
Solano758676
Marin7107127
Madera506676
Placer429059
San Luis Obispo424032
Yolo325060
Butte313453
Santa Cruz284825
Shasta199931
Napa199816
Sutter188912
San Benito144915
El Dorado13684
Yuba133810
Mendocino115421
Tehama9219
Lassen7711
Lake70216
Glenn6793
Nevada6328
Humboldt56910
Colusa5536
Calaveras34721
Amador33716
Tuolumne2855
Inyo24015
Siskiyou2140
Mono1822
Del Norte1801
Mariposa812
Plumas760
Modoc450
Trinity280
Sierra60
Alpine40
Unassigned00
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