Ore. House GOP members refuse to appear for session

Source: By Andrew Selsky, Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Most Republican lawmakers refused to attend a session of the Oregon House of Representatives last night amid a slowdown over anger at a sweeping bill on climate change.

Earlier, Republican lawmakers, who are a minority 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 Minority Leader Christine Drazan told reporters the Republicans were not attempting to deny a quorum but wanted to address pacing of the legislative session. State Rep. Bill Post, a Republican from Keizer, said in a tweet yesterday that instead of dealing with the so-called cap-and-trade bill on climate change, the Legislature should refer it to voters for the November election.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat from Portland, said she was informed by Drazan that Republicans would not attend the session last night that is necessary in order to meet deadlines because the readings of bills in full delays progress.

“To this point, I have respected the House Republicans’ desire to read bills in full. Doing so requires more floor time in order to meet the session’s deadlines and move bills over to the Senate,” Kotek said in a statement. At 6 p.m. local time, she called for a roll call. Only one Republican lawmaker appeared to be present.

In 2019, Republicans in the state Senate staged two walkouts to deny Democrats a quorum.

Republican lawmakers have argued that short sessions were not meant to handle complicated issues, like the bill introduced by Democrats for this year’s session that aims to curtail greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. A different version of the bill died last year during the Republican boycott.

Gov. Kate Brown (D) says addressing climate change is a priority.