Oregon Senate Republican Walkout Continues

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by Sean Walton, The Daily Sheeple:

A legislation-stalling walkout by the 11 Republicans in the Oregon Senate continued Monday, with no end in sight.

The political standoff over a massive bill to regulate carbon emissions has drawn attention from national political figures and media outlets.

Rumors of reported sightings of the absent lawmakers abounded over the weekend, but no credible accounts surfaced by the time the Oregon Capitol opened for business Monday morning.

Shortly after noon Monday, Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., of Grants Pass, issued a statement in response to rumors that his caucus might have reached a deal to return.

“No deal with the Democrats has been made,” Baertschiger said. “I have been in communications without any results and nothing has been determined. My caucus and I intend to remain out of the state.”

On Monday morning, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, gaveled the session open for the day, but to no avail.

“We have 18 (senators here),” and we need two more,” he said. “I know for a fact that we’re not going to have two more at this time.”

The Senate needs a quorum of 20 members to conduct business. There are 18 Democrats, meaning at least two Republican senators need to show up in order for the chamber to vote on bills.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown dispatched state troopers last Thursday to look for the missing Senate Republicans.

The state police’s jurisdiction stops at the state line, and so the missing senators have fanned out across the Western U.S. to stay out of their grasp.

Idaho, the closest state controlled entirely by Republicans, is a popular destination for many in Oregon’s GOP diaspora. Idaho state police have said they aren’t involved in any search for the senators, because they haven’t broken any laws in Idaho.

Oregon lawmakers face a midnight June 30 deadline to wrap up work, under the state Constitution. There are more than a hundred budget and policy bills and resolutions still pending in the Legislature that still need approval by the Senate. If senators are unable to achieve a quorum by June 30, those bills would be wiped out and lawmakers would have to start from zero if they return for a special session.

The Oregon’s Senate Republicans have joined a long tradition of American legislators who flee their states as a last resort to stop legislation. In recent years, as Republicans have taken control of a majority of legislatures across the country, the lawmakers on the lam have more often been Democrats.

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