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Controversial climate bill stalls as Oregon GOP lawmakers walk out — again

Oregon state Senate President Peter Courtney pauses after declaring in the state Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, that amid a boycott by Republican senators, not enough lawmakers were present to reach a quorum.
Andrew Selsky
/
KNKX
Oregon state Senate President Peter Courtney pauses after declaring in the state Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, that amid a boycott by Republican senators, not enough lawmakers were present to reach a quorum.

Republican lawmakers in Oregon’s capital have walked off the job, to protest a controversial cap-and-trade bill aimed at addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

And this isn’t the first time.

Last year, Republican senators left Salem to deny their chamber a quorum, and avoid a vote on the bill, which they say would be economically damaging to the state’s industries. Then, state troopers were dispatched to bring them back to the capital.

This year, Senate leadership has signaled it probably won’t send out the troopers. But business in the chamber is at a standstill without the required two-thirds attendance to conduct debate.

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Dirk VanderHart covers state government. He told KNKX that leaders on both sides of the aisle say they’re willing to compromise on the controversial cap-and-trade bill.

“But both are sort of demanding that the other side come to where they are,” VanderHart said. “Republicans really just want the bill dead or they want it referred to voters … and Democrats have been adamant that they’re not interested in referring it to voters.”

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.