On Monday, after over six hours of debate, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a controversial carbon-reduction bill that has been 12 years in the making.
The legislation, which would compel companies that operate in Oregon to reduce fossil fuel use, now heads to the Senate for a vote. Republican lawmakers have used a number of tactics to stall the bill, and have openly mulled a walkout, trying to run out the clock to the end of the session.
Gov. Kate Brown over the past two days has replied: Walk out, and I'll call the cops, then call a special session.
"I'm disappointed in the Senate Republicans' indications of a walkout, which would silence their constituents while stifling democracy," Brown said in a statement today. "People place their lives on the line to protect our democracy, and it's a slap in the face of those sacrifices for the Senate Republicans to turn their back on respectful dialogue just because they don't agree with others in the conversation."
Brown warned that she is "prepared to use all resources and tools available to me as Governor to ensure that Oregonians are being served by their leaders."
"I am in close communication with Oregon State Police and my office is making preparations for a special session to be held on July 2, 2019 in the event that the business of this state does not conclude by Sine Die," she said. "We will stay in Salem to work until our job is done."
Republican lawmakers say the Clean Energy Jobs bill will increase fossil fuel prices and kill jobs.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts to kill the bill on Monday, House Republican leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) said in a statement, "Climate change is a global problem, not an Oregon problem. Oregon's workers should not be punished for the reckless environmental policies of China and India."
This isn't the first time this legislative session Republicans have played hooky. Last month, Senate Republicans were absent from the Legislature for almost a week in protest of a billion dollar tax to fund schools.
Senate Republican leader Sen. Herman Baertschiger (R-Grants Pass) said in a statement that he is demanding the cap-and-trade bill be sent to the ballot for a vote.
"All we want is for the people of Oregon to vote on this horrible bill," he said. "Walking out is part of the conversation because the Governor is not willing to move on her position on the bill, and she is only representing Portland and the environmental community, not rural Oregonians. Oregon is a dictatorship, not by one person, but by one party."
Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) also distributed a draft of a change to Senate rules today. That change would prohibit senators from accepting contributions during the regular session and could prevent senators from using such contributions to offset fines accrued while they are absent.
On the Senate floor, Republican lawmakers were furious. The Portland Tribune first reported that state Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) changed topics during debate of another bill to warn the governor not to send police after him.
"If you send the state police to get me," Boquist said, "Hell's coming to visit you personally."