If the only reason Senate Republicans walked out of the Capitol June 20 really was their aversion to House Bill 2020, the cap-and-trade bill, they'd be on their way back by now. Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) said this morning that Senate Democrats don't have the votes to pass that bill.
But Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for some Senate Republicans, says there are more issues keeping the AWOL senators out of state.
"The Senate Republicans denying a quorum is about much more than the super-majority's slush fund cap and trade scam," Lockwood said in a statement. "There is a litany of other bills that hurt Oregonians, and people on both sides of the aisle are livid with outrage over the super-majority's overreach, hypocrisy and dangerous rhetoric. They have destroyed their credibility and Republicans have no reason to trust them."
Time is running out on more than 100 bills that lawmakers hope to pass, many of them bi-partisan bills such as funding for the Oregon Department of Forestry and the higher education system.
The Oregon Constitution requires that the session end June 30 (although five-day extensions are allowed, if approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber, something that can't happened without the Senate Republicans).
State Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), for one, said she's disinclined to return.
"There is nothing that could bring me back to Salem and provide a vote to grant the super-majority quorum in light of their members comparing Republicans to terrorists," Thatcher said in a statement.
State Rep. Paul Evans (D-Salem) did make that comparison today on Twitter.
Evans' tweet is but the latest escalation of rhetoric as the GOP senators left the Capitol. Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) implied last week that he would shoot and kill any state trooper sent by the governor to fetch him. A threat from militia groups shut down the Capitol on Saturday. Democrats blamed that shutdown on Boquist and his colleagues. The GOP took offense.
It's unclear whether those hard feelings, or more tactical considerations, are keeping Republicans from a hasty return.