GOP walkout: A special session, fines and the law


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The stalemate in the State Capitol with wayward Republican senators fleeing the legislature to show their opposition to a cap-and-trade bill shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

The GOP has vowed to “run out the clock” on the legislative session due to end on June 30. But Gov. Kate Brown said she’ll call a special session to begin July 2 if there is unfinished business.

What happens to all the bills currently in legislative limbo?

If a special session is called to order, lawmakers will have to start from scratch. Any bill that hasn’t already been passed by both the House and the Senate must go back to its starting point, then be debated and voted on again.

And a special session has no time limit. It can just keep going.

OSP rounding up the GOP

Gov. Brown ordered the Oregon State Police to look for the missing Republican senators. Despite a social media war of words, 2 former prosecutors told KOIN 6 News the OSP has no authority outside of Oregon.

In criminal cases, law enforcement can get a judge to issue a warrant which police in other states will use to arrest someone breaking the law. But this is not a criminal matter.

Fining the missing Republicans

Sen. Ginny Burdick said “each member of the Senate who is absent shall be fined $500 per day.”

A GoFundMe account has already raised more than $40,000 to pay those fines. The legality of using that money to pay these fines is also in question. 

Knute Buehler, who ran for governor in 2018 and lost to Kate Brown, donated $5000 to a new political action committee for the missing Republicans. And Sen. Tim Knopp has said Republicans believe the fines are illegal and plan to sue.

Democrats cite a law they say gives them the ability to impose fines. That law doesn’t say anything about a monetary punishment, but a lawyer for the legislature believes fines are allowed because the Oregon Constitution states they can “compel” lawmakers to come back.

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