A Republican state senator in Oregon told police to show up ready for a fight if they moved to enforce Democrat Governor Kate Brown’s order to compel attendance for a contentious vote on climate-change legislation.
Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature, but cannot approve a bill that would impose carbon caps in the name of combating climate change without at least the presence of Republican lawmakers. After days of heated debate, the GOP chose to boycott the vote, prompting Governor Brown to authorize Oregon State Police to round up the senators and force them to participate.
Oregon Republican Senator Brian Boquist was having none of it, telling a reporter in response to the governor’s threat that he would not be a political prisoner, and said the state troopers should prepare for a shootout.
Send bachelors, and come heavily armed; I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon, it’s just that simple.
Boquist previously warned the governor that “hell is coming to visit you personally” if she issued the order to police. Some Republican lawmakers have reportedly left the state altogether.
Governor Brown released a statement on Thursday denouncing the GOP walkout and explained her decision to compel a quorum, or the minimum number of senators required for votes to go forward in the Oregon State Capitol.
“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” Brown said. “As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats’ request.”
Brown added it was “absolutely unacceptable” that the lawmakers would “turn their backs on their constituents.”
The bill, which remains stalled due to the Republican walkout, would have implemented a cap and trade program to limit carbon emissions in the state, and allow companies to exchange emission “allowances.”
Oregon GOP Representative Carl Wilson said the bill would “punish” Oregon’s workers for the “reckless” environmental policies of other countries, while Republican Senate Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. argued it would only represent “Portland and the environmental community, not rural Oregonians.”
ensions between the coastal and inland communities are not new in Oregon. Back in 2016, land rights activists occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest at the federal government’s mistreatment of landowners. Nevada ranchers Ammon and Ryan Bundy led the group that took over the refuge, kicking off a 40-day standoff with Oregon and federal police.
That incident culminated in the arrest of dozens of activists, some charged with federal crimes, as well as the death of activist Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum, who was shot at an Oregon State Police roadblock.