Legislative Session Ends In Divide

state capitol oregon

Majority Democrats in the Oregon Legislature ended the session with Republicans still on boycott.

Most Republican members of the House and Senate refused to attend floor sessions in opposition to the cap and invest climate change bill. Republicans offered to return on Sunday to pass critical bills, but House Speaker Tina Kotek said they weren't going to pick and choose which bills to pass. Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney essentially ended the session by adjourning both chambers until the Midnight deadline on March 8.

Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement after the Legislature adjourned the 2020 short session:

“Last week, I was saddened but not shocked when Republican lawmakers chose to walk out on their jobs in order to block their remaining colleagues from completing the people’s work. When they denied quorum and shut down government, they did so knowing full well that they put critical state funding in jeopardy — for wildfires, for foster care, for flood relief for Pendleton.

“We’ve seen this tactic before, but this walkout — their fifth in ten months — has badly damaged Oregon’s legislative branch.

“The vast majority of Republican lawmakers have spent the last ten days on a taxpayer-funded vacation running down the clock. Now, as they continue to stall on doing their jobs, they say they are willing to come back at the eleventh hour for votes on select items they have picked.

“That’s not how democratic representation works. First it was about education funding, then about climate change. Every time they don’t like something, they just get up and leave. That’s not compromise. It’s holding Oregonians hostage to ultimatums and political posturing.

“When lawmakers all clear out of the Capitol and go home to their day jobs, I will be working with our state agencies to continue to support the work Oregonians care about despite lawmakers’ failure to properly steward and spend taxpayer dollars. We will focus on bracing ourselves during a global health crisis, ensuring health care for our families and shelter for our neighbors, readying ourselves for a tough wildfire season ahead, and protecting our lands and children from the impacts of climate change.

“I have always been clear that a legislative solution was my preferred path to tackle the impacts of climate change for the resources it would bring to our rural communities and the flexibility it would provide for our businesses. However, I will not back down. In the coming days, I will be taking executive action to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

“I am open to calling a special session if we can ensure it will benefit Oregonians. However, until legislative leaders bring me a plan for a functioning session I’m not going to waste taxpayer dollars on calling them back to the State Capitol.”

Republican State Senator Tim Knopp remained at the capitol. He told KATU that a short session wasn't meant to handle a bill like cap and trade and that it needs to be considered in a regular session.

Republican State Senator Kim Thatcher released the following statement:

“From the start of the 2020 short session, I’ve urged my fellow lawmakers to allow the broadest number of people to be involved in the decision making on cap and trade policies – and send this issue to a statewide vote. Instead, the session is ending in the wrong direction – leaving the decision making in the hands of the lowest number; just the Governor and her Executive Orders. This is not the kind of governance Oregonians want or deserve.

Many of us exercised a process allowed under the Oregon Constitution and Senate Rules to boycott the session, because allowing a quorum would result in passage of a law that’s detrimental to Oregon families and businesses and the process lacked accountability, transparency and integrity. Twenty-eight out of 36 counties have adopted proclamations opposing the legislation as well.

I sponsored a measure (Senate Joint Resolution 202) to eliminate the 35-day even-year sessions primarily because of these kinds of contentious, complex disputes that lead to unfortunate endings. Most of the voters I’ve heard from say this is not what they supported when they voted for short sessions a decade ago.

In recent months, I’ve wanted to contribute to the Vietnam War Memorial (vietnamwarmemorialfund.org) proposed for the State Capitol Grounds. So, I recently donated my per diem allotment from the past two weeks to the Memorial Fund and encourage others to support the cause as well.”

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