No Lawmakin' Today, Oregon Republicans Are HIDING! Yes, Again.
Monday, faced with a bill that would cap and trade carbon emissions in the state, all but one of the dozen Republicans in the Oregon state Senate skipped out of the state to prevent a vote, bringing this year's legislative session to a dead stop. It's a repeat of a tactic the Senate GOP pulled twice last year to deny a quorum for a vote. Yesterday, for shits and giggles, the Republicans in the state House skipped out too. Democrats hold supermajorities in both houses, but for a quorum, the rules require two thirds of members to be present. The Dems are just short of that, needing two Republicans in each house to show up to get anything done.
So far, there haven't been any armed militia loons insisting they want to help "protect" the wayward lawmakers. It's early, yet; no telling whether any of the missing Republicans are itching for an armed standoff for the sake of precious, precious fossil fuels.
Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, hasn't yet asked Gov. Kate Brown to send the state police out to round up the missing Republicans, which was what prompted last June's threats from militia groups to shoot some cops in defense of absenteeism. Without a request from the Senate, the governor can't sic the cops on the AWOL senators. Not that it did any good -- the Rs all headed to Washington and Idaho anyway, as they probably have this year too.
Here's the exciting non-action from the Senate's roll call Monday.
Courtney says he's been talking daily with the Senate Republican leader, Herman Baertschiger Jr., and that Baertschiger "did leave the door open that maybe they'd come back," although it's possible the Rs will only return if the Senate agrees to put the cap and trade bill to voters as a referendum, which would give big industrial interests the chance to spend it to death.
The bill, Senate Bill 1530, would set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be emitted in Oregon annually, gradually reducing that amount each year. That's the cap. Polluters would have to pay for a limited number of "emissions allowances" for each metric ton of CO2 they release, and that's the trade.
The Republicans, of course, insist they're the wronged party here, because they always are, aren't they? Hell, Baertschiger already had a hissy fit earlier this month when the timber industry reached an agreement with environmental groups to cooperate on updating other environmental regulations, so the poor Rs are just feeling very put upon. The Republicans insist they aren't running away from their jobs because they'll lose the vote. No, they're mad because Courtney used a perfectly cromulent parliamentary procedure to pass the bill out of committee. One Dem on the committee voted with Republicans against cap-and-trade. Senate rules allow the majority leader to temporarily join a committee to break a tie, so that's what Courtney did, moving the bill to the full Senate.
You know, in other words, tyranny.
"Senator Courtney's actions leave no other option for Senate Republicans but to boycott and deny quorum because cap and trade is on the way to the Senate floor," Baertschiger said in the written statement. "Democrats refused to work with Republicans and denied every amendment that was presented. Pay attention Oregon – this is a true example of partisan politics."
Welp, that last clause was at least correct. The Oregonian notes Baertschiger is shading the truth, just a tiny bit, as is traditional for the Grand Old Prevaricators:
Democrats have made concessions to Republicans and other opponents of the bill, including exempting a geographically large portion of the state from fees on gas and diesel indefinitely. But Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers, have also voted down numerous amendments proposed by Republicans.
As we noted when we discussed the timber management deal, Oregon Republicans don't have enough votes to pass laws anymore, but they're very dedicated to preventing the Democratic majority from accomplishing anything, which means Republicans WIN.
The Oregonian points out that based on Census data, "the 11 Republicans who walked out [of the Senate] represent just 36% of Oregon's population" -- but from another perspective, that just means that 36 percent of Oregonians are represented by Real Americans, and the majority are commies, and thereby not even citizens.
House GOP Leader Christine Drazan issued a statement Tuesday saying her members had to walk out too, declaring that legislative majorities are unfair, and also what about the children? She said her party was "taking a stand, with working families, in opposing cap-and-trade and this rigged process," because only lazy unemployed people are interested in keeping the planet livable.
The House Democratic leader, Barbara Smith Warner, had a statement, too, and frankly, she's had it with the R's games:
In just the last year alone, we have held more than 35 hours of public hearings, gone on a statewide tour, had countless hours of conversations between stakeholders and made significant changes in response to our Republican colleagues' concerns.The reality is, in today's Republican party run by Donald Trump, nothing will ever be enough for them.
Gosh, how partisan of her.
A coalition of public employee unions and supporters of cap-and-trade have suggested in a press release that if the Republicans continue to stay out, the groups may target the Rs in swing districts for defeat this fall -- which seems awfully unfair, too. And the rest of this year's "short session" -- the Oregon lege has abbreviated sessions every other year -- includes some pretty important work. If the walkout lasts until the end of the session, March 8, a lot of legislation will just die. That includes a whole bunch of important bills like funding homeless shelters, helping communities hit by flooding, and revamping laws on aerial spraying of pesticides (part of that compromise Baertschiger was so butthurt about). Should that happen, Gov. Brown may call a special session, which the Republicans might once again skip out of.
One thing's for sure. Whatever the outcome of the cap and trade bill, the Oregon GOP seems bent on giving voters plenty of reason to pass two initiatives this fall that would prevent AWOL legislators from drawing a salary, and ban them from running for re-election.
Man, that would be so unfair!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.