STATE SENATE WALK OUT
The Oregon state senate quickly adjourned Sunday because the Republican senators who staged a walkout last week over a climate bill didn’t show up to the session, according to the state legislature’s website. Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, adjourned the session without a quorum until Monday at 10 a.m. PTD after the state’s 11 GOP senators failed to appear, CNN affiliate KOIN reports. “Again, I ask the senators that are not here to please if you would come to the building, and we have budgets we need to pass that are for all of Oregon,” Courtney said before adjourning. The Republicans walked out of a session on Thursday over disagreements on HB 2020, a cap and trade climate bill, that had passed the state House on Monday. They then failed to appear later Thursday for floor proceedings. Their absence left the legislative body two senators short of a quorum, blocking the chamber’s proceedings.
Republican state senators in Oregon continued to engage in a high-stakes game of brinksmanship over the weekend with Democratic lawmakers, remaining away from the capitol and threatening a lawsuit over a $500-per-day fine from the Senate president. At the center of the debate is a climate change bill. Eleven Republican senators fled the Legislature — and in some cases, the state — to thwart the passage of a cap-and-trade proposal that would dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The minority GOP caucus wants the plan to be sent to voters instead of being instituted by lawmakers — but negotiations with Democrats collapsed, leading to a headline-grabbing walkout.
As Oregon Senate Republicans continued to boycott the Legislature Sunday in an attempt to block a vote on House Bill 2020, a climate change bill, things got testy on Twitter. The dust up started on Saturday evening when the official Twitter account of the Oregon GOP tweeted out a picture of protesters at the capitol with the caption, “Heavily armed militia lays siege to Oregon’s Capitol as Senate Democrats cower in fear.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) offered a three-part response. “#1: These are people protesting peacefully – hence their POSTERS & not FIREARMS,” she tweeted. “#2: Why do you call some who threaten violent attack a ‘militia’ vs others ‘domestic terrorists?’🤔 #3: This a very dramatic way to deal with your Sunday Scaries.”
Oregon Senate Republicans continued their boycott of the Legislature during a floor session Sunday. “We’re not gonna get a quorum,” Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said, before gaveling out until 10 a.m. Monday. “We have 18,” Courtney said, referring to the Democrats assembled on the Senate floor, some wearing jeans and other casual clothes. “Everybody knows we need two more.” Democrats need a quorum of 20 members to conduct business. Republicans walked out of the Capitol last week to block a scheduled vote on a controversial climate change bill, House Bill 2020, which would put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The Oregon Senate was unable to reach a quorum during their brief floor session Sunday morning as Republican senators continued their unexcused absence from the Capitol. Democratic senators said Republicans have not returned their calls and even top lawmakers don’t know where negotiations stand to bring Republicans back into the building. “We don’t have any indication that they have plans to return at this point,” Senate Democratic Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said. “Tomorrow is an actual work day and they need to come back to work.”
As a walkout by Oregon GOP senators in objection to a cap-and-trade bill continues in Salem, a protest calling for their return to the capitol is planned for Tuesday. The “Rally to get Republican Senators back to work at the Oregon State Capitol” is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. “I’m pretty upset about it, I think that this is really hurting Oregonians,” said Reyna Lopez, the executive director for Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, or PCUN, the Oregon’s Farmworker Union.
The Oregon Legislature remained at an uneasy standstill Sunday with Republicans blocking a carbon cap-and-trade bill, even as national observers sensationalized the impasse. Senate Republicans have refused to provide Democrats a quorum since Thursday, and have been hiding out of state to keep Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, from retrieving them. Republicans seek to halt the passage of House Bill 2020, which would place a cap on carbon emissions. Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) cancelled a floor session Saturday after the Oregon State Police received a threat of right-wing militia actions at the Capitol. (An OSP captain confirmed the threat to Oregon Public Broadcasting on Friday night.) Those anti-government groups may have been emboldened by a Republican senator threatening to shoot and kill state troopers sent to fetch him.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
A January data breach at the Department of Human Services exposed the confidential information of an eye-popping 645,000 Oregonians. Those people whose personal data was compromised were left with many questions. But the massive breach raised an even bigger question for everyone else: What are state officials doing to protect the information stored on government computers about virtually everyone in Oregon? State officials say they are working to address the problem, in particular with a new agency that provides data tracking and training, among other cybersecurity initiatives. Yet despite that work — and procedures in place within individual agencies — the security lapses continue.
Albert Lee and Charles Rand Barnett will challenge U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) in the 2020 Democratic primary for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Mount Hood to the West Hills of Portland. Lee, 44, is the dean of Portland Community College’s Business and Computing division and the secretary of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon’s board of directors. He’s also affiliated with the city’s Independent Police Review, Jo Ann Hardesty’s campaign and Health Care for All Oregon, among others.
The Oregon Legislature has repealed a nearly 25-year-old law prohibiting new schools, hospitals, jails, and police and fire stations from being built in the state’s tsunami inundation zone. Coastal legislators, who pushed the bill, say the risks of a natural disaster must be weighed against an actual economic disaster already unfolding because of the statute. Without new emergency services buildings, coastal residents and businesses will not be able to get property insurance, Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis said. Without new schools, property values will fall. “We regard this as having extreme and significant consequences,” Gomberg said.
Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, has tried four times to bring back over-the-counter purchases of pseudoephedrine in Oregon, but each year the legislation has died. This year it made it through the House, the best showing so far. But not good enough. Post is advocating for a system that tracks sales of the popular decongestant, rather than requiring prescriptions. “It’s a bullet proof system,” said Post. “It works in 37 states. Why not here?” But, after moving though the House 33-22, the bill reached significant privacy and safety concerns in the Senate Judiciary Committee.