It’s a bizarre day in our nation. Despite being accused of being a fascist, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown made good on a threat to send the Oregon State Police after 11 Republican lawmakers who walked out of the State Capitol in Salem in protest.
The Republicans refused to show up to vote Thursday on a massive climate bill in the Democrat-dominated legislature without further discussion. They say the bill would hurt citizens by raising taxes and would severely damage a number of key industries in the Beaver State by crushing them under a new load of restrictions.
Logging industry families, farmers, truckers, and other industry workers have been standing outside the Capitol in protest of a bill many say will put them out of business, the Capital Press reported. A separate climate bill on the floor could also raise gas prices by 22 cents, and critics say it would do little to actually cut greenhouse gas emissions like it claims it will, according to the Portland Business Journal.
After the Republican senators didn’t show up on Thursday, Gov. Brown ordered the State Police to round them up, force them to come back to the Capitol, and keep them there until they voted. Rather than vote against the bill in what would be a vain effort, the 11 GOP legislators had refused to show up in order to keep the bill from moving forward.
All 11 are currently in hiding, and they’re expected to remain so until June 30 when the congressional session ends. Another bill that won’t be able to pass without their presence is one that would allow illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses, The Oregonian reported.
Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend), whose district is in the largely conservative eastern two-thirds of what is generally known as a liberal state, explained, “I feel no constitutional obligation to stand around so they can pass their leftist progressive agenda for Multnomah County that my constituents don’t happen to agree with. I think that’s true for every other Senate district that’s out there that’s represented by Republicans.”
Knopp called KBOI talk show host Nate Shelman in Boise to tell him that he was hiding out in an undisclosed location in Idaho, which is on Oregon’s eastern border. Knopp said Idaho and Oregon do not have an agreement that would allow Oregon State Police to cross into the Gem State and arrest him. The new Republican governor of Idaho, Brad Little, is not expected to help Oregon take Knopp back.
The senator said he’s willing to return to the Oregon State Capitol before the legislative session ends if Democrats are willing to make some concessions and come back to the negotiating table.
Another fleeing legislator, Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas), is also reportedly hiding out in Idaho. He had a warning for anyone coming after him to drag him back, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Send bachelors and come heavily armed."
I'm not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon," he said. "It's just that simple."
The Republican senators also face a fine of $500 a day each until they return to the Capitol. A number of GoFundMe pages have been set up to help them pay those costs, according to local NBC affiliate KGW8. Knopp indicated he will sue Oregon if they fine him.
Gov. Brown, who is considered one of the most anti-President Trump governors in the U.S., has been called a fascist by conservatives for trying to use force to bring the Republican senators back. Many were surprised that she actually went ahead with her threat.