11 Oregon Republican State Senators Believed to Have Fled State in Protest of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill

The Oregon Senate meets, but is unable to reach quorum as Republican senators continue to be absent from the Capitol over HB 2020, a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill, at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on June 23, 2019. (Photo: ANNA REED / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

There are still 11 Oregon Republican state senators missing, having fled Salem in protest of a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill. The legislators say such a bill would harm Oregonians, especially those in industries such as logging.

Gov. Kate Brown has authorized the Oregon State Police, whose jurisdiction ends at the state border, to locate the absent senators and return them to the Capitol building.

It’s believed that most of the 11 Republicans have fled the state, possibly to Idaho.

As the Oregon Senate Republicans for the fourth time ignored a scheduled Senate floor session Monday, staff and lawmakers in both chambers are taking a serious look at the bills that would die if they don’t return.

Senate Democrats have circulated a list of about 100 bills headed for the trash pile, including budget bills for a number of state agencies, top priority bills for the governor and Democratic legislative leadership, and even Republican-sponsored bills designed to assist rural Oregonians.

Declining to show up for the floor session means the Senate lacks a quorum needed to conduct business and pass House Bill 2020. With 18 members in the Senate, Democrats are in the supermajority, but they need two Republicans to reach a quorum of 20.

The state Constitution requires that the 2019 legislative session end on June 30, at which point all bills not passed by both chambers of the Legislature would die. A five-day extension of the session is possible, but would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Senate Republicans also are incurring a $500 fine per missed session, which was levied by the Senate on Thursday.

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SOURCE: USA Today; Salem Statesman Journal, Connor Radnovich