SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon House Republicans did not show up for the night session of the legislative session that began earlier Tuesday, a move the GOP said was about pacing and Democrats said was obstructionist politics.
Last year, the GOP walked out of legislative sessions to block any movement on a cap-and-trade bill. They threatened to walk out again this session as well. Tuesday night, they did.
Tuesday’s work session on cap-and-trade was canceled, but a public hearing and possible work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Speaker of the House Tina Kotek thanked the “members of the House Republican caucus who did submit excuses for not being here tonight” right before she announced, “We do not have a quorum.”
The night session was canceled and the House will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Republican Cheri Helt did show but said in a statement her presence was a protest.
“My attendance tonight was my way of protesting the failure of the majority party to respect the legitimate concerns of my Republican colleagues. I hope tomorrow we will work together with greater respect for the legislature process and respecting opposing points of view.”
Earlier, Republican lawmakers in the House insisted that bills coming to the floor be read in their entirety instead of being summarized, which slowed things down substantially.
The 2020 session of the Legislature lasts only 35 days, being an even-year short session.
House Republican leader Christine Drazan told reporters the Republicans were not attempting to deny a quorum but to address pacing of the legislative session.
In a statement released Monday — a day before the expected introduction of the cap and trade bill — the Canby Republican said, “Slowing down the pace allows us to work together to govern, rather than simply substituting closed door negotiations with special interests, for a public process with elected officials. … This is a new version of cap and trade and it deserves to be fully vetted.”
House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner decried “the politics of obstruction” the Republicans displayed by not showing up for a work session about Native children in the welfare system.
“Those members who refuse to show up for work tonight and do their job are saying to a large majority of Oregonians: your voice doesn’t matter and your vote doesn’t matter. Oregonians deserve much better.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.