“Refer it to the voters”: GOP walkout halts legislative session

SALEM, Ore. — Senate Republicans continued their walkout boycotting the controversial cap-and-trade bill at Oregon’s Capitol Tuesday. House Republicans joined in the boycott Tuesday, halting all business from being conducted in the legislature.

The 2020 legislative session ends on March 8 and Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House were nowhere to be found, both boycotting the vote of the cap-and-trade bill. Rogue Valley Democrats said there are important bills left to vote on, Republicans representing the same area said there’s nothing that would have the impact of cap-and-trade. “We do not have a quorum, we can not do what we came here to do,” Senate President Peter Courtney (D – Salem) said as the Senate convened Tuesday morning.

“The way it was rammed through the committee’s structure, having the senate president come in to break the tie,” said State Representative Kim Wallan (R – Medford). “The only way we can make the point that you do need us for quorum, you do need to talk to us, is to show that you do in fact need us for quorum.”

With Republicans gone, less legislation can happen and bills can’t be voted on. Rep. Wallan said the session is almost over, so most R’s bills are already dead. “There’s nothing else that would have the impact that the cap and trade bill would have on the lives of regular Oregonians,” she said.

“For anybody that represents anywhere close to the Rogue Valley, I’m really disappointed that they wouldn’t see the urgency of the wildfire legislation,” State Senator Jeff Golden (D – Ashland) said.  “There’s a $25m bill that really ramps up fuel reduction work, there’s other wildfire bills that have to do with suppression, airplane resources and other things,” Golden said wildfires were his focus this session and that four bills were ready to be voted on, but Republicans are sticking with their ultimatum on cap-and-trade.

Republicans said they don’t have plans to return to the chambers before the end of the session. “Refer it to the voters,” Rep. Wallan said. “If you love it so much and you’re so sure you have that much support for it in the communities, send it to the voters. It’ll be fine.”

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