Oregon Senate Republicans Flee State In Protest Of Cap and Trade Bill, Denying Dems Quorum, Governor Dispatches Police to Arrest Them
A state version of cap and trade has been making its way through the Oregon legislature this year. The bill passed the House last week, with two democrats joining the republicans in a futile effort to oppose it. Now that the bill is in the state Senate, all 11 republicans who make up the minority have apparently fled the state in order to deny the democrats a quorum so that no business can take place on the Senate floor.
After pleading with republicans to return, the democrats have asked Governor Kate Brown to exercise her authority to dispatch the state police to arrest the missing republicans and forcibly drag them to the capitol building.
Oregon’s Democratic governor, Kate Brown, has dispatched state troopers to find missing Republican senators and bring them back to Salem to legislate.
All 11 Republican senators are in hiding, at least some of them out of state, in order to prevent the Senate from having the quorum it needs to operate. They can’t abide the Democrat-backed carbon cap and spend bill that is up for a Senate vote today.
When Republicans failed to show up on the Senate floor for today’s 11 a.m. session, Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem, a Democrat, asked the sergeant at arms to search the Capitol for the missing lawmakers. That search proved fruitless.
In response to the walkout, Courtney formally requested that Brown dispatch Oregon State Police troopers to round up the missing Republicans.
Brown quickly granted that request. “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building,” she said in a statement. “They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do.”
Speaking on the partially vacant Senate floor, Courtney said, “I apologize to the citizens for taking (state troopers) off the streets to look for (missing lawmakers).”
Oregon’s constitution allows the majority party to “compel” the attendance of absent members of the legislature. The process is rarely used, though.
In 2001, Oregon Senate Democrats walked out and hid to stop a vote on a Republican legislative redistricting bill. They stayed away, bringing Senate business to a halt, for almost a week.
The senate Republicans have issued this statement:
Senate Republicans made the decision to walkout and have left the state to protest cap and trade because it should be referred to the ballot so every Oregonian has a voice. #capkillsjobs pic.twitter.com/Cwszwvdsbx
— Oregon Senate Republicans (@ORSenateRs) June 20, 2019
A few days ago, republican Senator Brian Boquist issued veiled threats to anyone who might come to drag him away, talking about how heavily armed he is:
Tensions were already smoldering in the Oregon Senate Wednesday, when Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, poured gasoline on the situation, suggesting he would shoot and potentially kill any state trooper sent to haul him unwillingly back to the Capitol.
The governor’s hint that she would consider sending troopers in the event of a second walkout triggered an aggressive response from Boquist, which was captured by a KGW news team at the Capitol.
“This is what I told the superintendent,” Boquist said, referring to OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”
A spokeswoman for the Oregon State Police did not respond to an inquiry Wednesday afternoon about whether the agency is investigating Boquist’s threat.
In an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive Wednesday afternoon, Boquist stuck with his earlier statement and rejected a reporter’s characterization of his threat to troopers as “thinly veiled.”
“Nothing thinly veiled,” Boquist wrote. “I have been in political coup attempts. I have been held hostage overseas. I have been jailed politically overseas … Not going to be arrested as a political prisoner in Oregon period.”
As Willamette Week has reported, Boquist is a U.S. Army veteran whose businesses include military training and an international operation that journalists described in the 1990s as a paramilitary force of armed American and Russian ex-military officers.
Boquist contends that state troopers only have the power to enforce criminal violations and arrest warrants, not to compel absent lawmakers to return to the Capitol during a legislative session.
Odd that Boquist all of a sudden stands his ground, as he previously co sponsored and voted for a gun confiscation bill, as well as voted with the democrats on the national popular vote compact. His veiled threats against the state police could very well qualify him for gun confiscation via his own law that he helped to pass.
Meanwhile, rural Oregonians are up in arms over the cap and trade bill, and a convoy of truckers and loggers led a protest earlier this week on the front steps of the capitol. The protest drew hundreds despite only one day’s notice.
Senator Kim Thatcher tells The Gateway Pundit “We walked out because the Dems broke the deal for our return on the first walk out! They were going to reset in 2020. That didn’t happen. It’s not for any lack of trying on our part.” She confirms that she is outside the jurisdiction of the Oregon State Police.