SALEM, OR -- Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) implored Republicans to come back to Salem, Thursday. "This is the saddest day of my legislative life," he told the chamber, "I beg and beseech my fellow legislators to come to the floor. I need you, the Legislature needs you, the people of Oregon need you."
Republicans walked out for the second time this session, this time over the controversial Cap and Invest bill. Negotiations between the two sides broke off Wednesday night. Courtney implored, "If you’re mad and you're angry, upset, take it out on me. Say things about me. Come at me. Don’t do this to the people of Oregon. Don’t do this to this branch." All 18 Democrats remain in Salem, but 20 are needed for any legislative action. Under Senate rules, each absent lawmaker can be fined $500 a day starting Friday, until they come back.
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) Explains GOP Walkout
President Courtney asked Governor Kate Brown to order State Police to find the absent Republicans. He told Senators, "I don’t want to send the State Police – I don’t. I have no other choice." Gov. Brown agreed to the request. She's upset with the GOP move, "It’s time for the Senate Republicans to show up and do the job that Oregonians elected them to do." Brown says Oregon would become the second state to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, if HB 2020 passes, "It would’ve been historic for Oregon, historic for the country, and frankly, historic for the world." It's already been approved by the House.
Oregon State Police issued a statement Thursday night, saying Brown's request is consistent with provisions in Oregon's Constitution. The agency has assisted in resolving similar situations in the past with the help of diplomats from both sides of the aisle and officials say "patience and communication" are the first and preferred options for a resolution. It's "utilizing established relationships to have polite communication with these Senators."
President Courtney has asked for an increased law enforcement presence because emotions are running so high at the Capitol. Friday morning, Courtney said, "I did speak with the [OSP] Superintendent last night, I did speak with the Governor, as well as the head of our security forces here, about how I felt we would need extra security, to make sure everyone here is safe." He added, "Their presence has been dramatically increased in the building. That will continue, as we deal with conduct that is of great concern to some people on the floor - not all - as well as people that work here."
11:30 A.M. UPDATE: Senate President Peter Courtney has tried to convene the Senate every hour, since 9 a.m. But, without enough members to establish a quorum, he has adjourned for another 60 minutes, following the roll call.