Gov. Kate Brown announced late Thursday morning she would ask the Oregon State Police to retrieve the Senate Republicans, who fled the Capitol in order to deprive the Senate of a quorum and block the likely passage of House Bill 2020, the carbon-reduction legislation that passed the House earlier this week.
"After many hours of well-intentioned, respectful negotiations on Wednesday, the Senate has come to an impasse," Brown said in a statement." The Senate Republicans have decided to abandon their duty to serve their constituents and walk out. The Senate Democrats have requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring back their colleagues to finish the work they committed to push forward for Oregonians. As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats' 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. They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do."
The Senate Republicans walked out earlier this session, that time in order to deprive the Senate of a quorum (two-thirds or 20 of the Senate's 30 members must be present for a vote) when it was due to vote on a corporate tax increase.
Brown's move came in response to a written request from state Sen. Peter Courtney (D-Salem) this morning.
"The Senate is unable to conduct business because of a lack of a quorum," Courtney wrote to Brown. "I am requesting you direct the state police to assist."
Brown warned Republican senators on Wednesday that if they walked out, she would call state troopers to retrieve them and, if that didn't work, she would call another legislative session in July.
Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas), responded by implying he would shoot and kill any police officers sent to retrieve him. "Send bachelors and come heavily armed," he told KGW-TV. "I'm not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It's just that simple."
But reports today indicate that GOP have left the state.
Update, 3:21 pm: The Oregon State Police says its officers intend to retrieve the missing senators "in a peaceful, gentle, and process-supporting way."
The official statement offers few details on what tactics troopers will use to fulfill the governor's order. "She has now given a lawful directive which OSP is fully committed to executing," the statement says. "OSP is utilizing established relationships to have polite communication with these Senators. While we obviously have many tools at our disposal, patience and communication is and always will be our first, and preferred, option."