By: CBS News
June 26, 2019
Republican state senators in Oregon remain in hiding Wednesday, in an attempt to avoid a vote on a controversial climate bill. But as a result, more than 100 other bills – including funding for state agencies – are at risk of being scrapped.
Activists who want the Oregon state senate to pass the climate bill are running out of time. Last week, 11 GOP lawmakers walked off the job -- and with only five days left in the legislative session, the senate doesn't have enough people to vote on the climate bill or the many others.
"They are turning their backs on Oregonians and they are turning their backs on the democratic process," said the state's Democratic governor, Kate Brown.
The Republicans' refusal to show up for work since last Thursday has also frustrated some voters. "Why do we elect them if they're not going to make a decision for us?" Sara Nickel said.
Gov. Brown authorized state police to track down the runaway senators. But many have fled to neighboring states, including state Sen. Tim Knopp, who told CBS News that he's "in Idaho at a cabin by a lake."
The climate bill would put a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions and increase a variety of taxes. Republicans argue it would hurt jobs and raise gas prices.
"This is democracy," Sen. Knopp said over video chat. "This is defending our constituents."
Some Republicans are taking a more extreme stance: Sen. Brian Boquist told a Portland TV station that opponents would have to "send bachelors and come heavily armed," adding "I'm not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon."
His comment seemed to encourage local militias. Over the weekend, authorities warned Democrats of a "possible…threat" to the capitol.
"It is absolutely outrageous," Gov. Brown said, adding "In Oregon, this is not how we solve problems."