Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown (D.) instructed the state police Thursday afternoon to round up Republican state senators who fled the state capitol in anticipation of a vote on cap-and-trade legislation they oppose.
"The Senate Democrats have requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring back their colleagues to finish the work they committed to push forward for Oregonians," Brown said in a statement. "As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats' request."
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Democrats have an 18-member majority in the state Senate but need 20 of the 30 members present to have a quorum to vote on legislation, hence their need for Republican members to be present to pass the legislation. The bill passed the state House earlier in the week with all Republicans and two Democrats voting against it.
Reports indicate some Republican senators have left the state to avoid voting on the legislation, which would raise utility costs and taxes on gasoline and diesel.
"Protesting cap-and-trade by walking out today represents our constituency and exactly how we should be doing our job," Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said in a statement early Thursday morning defending his caucus's decision to protest the vote.
"We have endured threats of arrest, fines, and pulling community project funds from the governor, Senate president, and majority leader. We will not stand by and be bullied by the majority party any longer," he added.
Earlier in the week, Baertschiger noted the legislation would disproportionately affect rural Oregonians who travel farther distances than their urban counterparts and generally operate less fuel-efficient vehicles than those in urban or suburban areas.
"It is fundamentally inequitable to put the responsibility of cleaning up their pollution on the backs of rural Oregonians," he said.