SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — For 8 days Oregon’s Democratic state senators have shown up for work on legislation. For 8 days Oregon’s Republican state senators have been missing in a protest over a cap-and-trade bill.
Without the quorum, no legislation can get done. The legislative session officially ends Sunday and increasingly it looks as if the session may be done even before midnight Sunday.
That means dozens of bills — including the budgets for the Department of Human Services for foster care reforms, a law requiring 12 weeks paid family medical leave statewide with money coming from employers and employees, a higher cigarette tax for help fund Medicaid and a bill to allow Portland to approve multiplex housing in single-family home neighborhoods — would be dead.
Even though Democrats now say they don’t have the votes among themselves to get HB 2020 passed — that’s the climate change cap-and-trade bill — the 11 Senate Republicans now say they want that climate change bill referred to voters.
Democratic leaders told KOIN 6 News they’re not giving in to any more demands even though they can’t get anything done without at least 2 Senate Republicans in the Capitol.
“There are 18 of us here, 18 of us that have been here all week. We can stay here and wait but that doesn’t accomplish anything,” Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said from the Senate podium Thursday.
At this writing, no one is expecting any Republicans to show up Thursday.
If there is no vote by Sunday night all the bills are scrapped. Gov. Kate Brown indicated she would call a special session — but everything starts from scratch.
In that special session, lawmakers can quickly cut-and-paste old bills into new ones, but many would be hard to get through the process all over again.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.