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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: 9930

Reported Deaths: 213
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah241769
Marion161047
Washington153420
Clackamas82125
Umatilla7166
Union3551
Lincoln3463
Deschutes2110
Lane2083
Malheur1911
Polk15912
Linn1579
Jackson1470
Jefferson1320
Yamhill1328
Klamath1301
Benton935
Morrow931
Hood River880
Wasco881
Josephine521
Clatsop510
Douglas460
Coos420
Columbia360
Lake210
Tillamook140
Crook120
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 252895

Reported Deaths: 6334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078263457
Riverside19450479
Orange16191363
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6556140
Fresno585177
Kern513081
Santa Clara5077160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento400469
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa356481
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Kings260032
Stanislaus253144
Monterey191515
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer82811
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo61325
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4553
Napa3764
San Benito2652
Sutter2433
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1484
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake870
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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