SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Senate is again unable to conduct business because of a Republican boycott of the Legislature over major climate change legislation that is entering its fifth day.
Senate President Peter Courtney said there weren’t enough senators on the floor to formally go through with a vote.
Courtney convened the chamber at 10 a.m., then again at noon and each time recessed quickly. But they did caucus inbetween.
Republicans fled the Capitol on Thursday to deny the majority Democrats a vote for the cap-and-trade bill. HB 2020 is intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions through a cap on carbon.
The GOP senators have vowed to “run out the clock” on the legislative session, which is scheduled to end on June 30. However, Gov. Kate Brown said she will call a special session if there is still work to be done.
Leaders from both parties told KOIN 6 News there is progress being made behind the scenes, but what that progress is remains to be seen.
“We’re running out of time and what people don’t realize is that anything left on the table June 30 is dead,” said Ginny Burdick, the Senate majority leader. “That includes all our budgets, it includes 40 additional state police troopers, it includes very important programs through the children’s services area and things Oregonians depend on. It also includes a lot of projects in rural areas.”
She added, “They’re getting paid to do a job and they’re not showing up for work. They’re violating their constitutional oath to serve their constituents.”
Supporters of HB 2020 are planning a rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday but have been in touch with the Oregon State Police over more possible threats. Organizers said it’s a real concern, especially after threats closed the Capitol on Saturday.
Oregon State Police recommended the Capitol close on Saturday after anti-government groups threatened to join a protest planned inside the building. The threat never materialized and less than 100 protesters showed over the weekend.
“It’s a frightening time and, frankly, just no the Oregon way,” said Brad Reed, the communications director for Renew Oregon. “We’re not used to see this kind of rhetoric and extremism. It is a safety problem for our folks who want to come down and make their voices heard as well. It’s not fair to them.”
Organizers of the possible rally said they want to see Republican lawmakers denounce threats of violence or militia activity.Sen. Herman Baertschiger, a Republican from Grants Pass, said he and his party denounce violence of any kind.
Burdick, a Portland Democrat, called some of the rhetoric and support Republicans are getting “alarming.” She said she hopes whoever wants to demonstrate on Tuesday — regardless of their position — can do so safely.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says Senate Republicans broke their promise to Democrats by walking out over major climate legislation.
She said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the Senate Republican leader must return to the building – or at least the state – if he wants to negotiate.
Senate Republicans have fled the Capitol to avoid a vote on a measure intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions through a cap on carbon.
Minority Republicans say they didn’t have a voice in crafting the legislation and that voters should approve the final measure.
Brown says voters already approved climate policy by electing a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature. She called the claim that Republicans weren’t involved in the process “hogwash.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report