Ore. GOP lawmakers set conditions for return to Statehouse

Source: By Andrew Selsky, Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2020

The impasse has put Oregon on the front line of the climate change issue, with Democrats, who wield a supermajority in both the Senate and the House, making reducing greenhouse gas emissions a priority and Republicans trying to obstruct it with the boycott.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said, “Republicans are willing to attend the Sunday floor session to pass emergency budget bills: for example, the relief for flood victims in eastern Oregon.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat from Portland, said that if Democrats agreed to the ultimatum, then the Republicans, whose boycott has prevented a quorum in both chambers, “would get to cherry pick which bills live and die.”

“Every bill that has passed out of committee deserves a vote,” Kotek said in a statement. “I will not walk away from my obligation to every Oregonian that we must uphold the democratic process and the rule of law.”

Last year, Republicans in the state Senate disappeared twice, over a different version of the climate bill and over an education funding tax.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, acting on the request of Senate President Peter Courtney (D), ordered the state police to find them and bring them back. Many GOP lawmakers fled across state lines, out of reach of the state police. Courtney has said this time he is not requesting police intervention.