Oregon Republicans go AWOL in protest at proposed climate bill

State Republicans in Oregon are being hunted by police after fleeing the Capitol last week over a bill that aims to fight greenhouse gas emissions.

Sunday marked the fourth day in a row that the politicians had failed to turn up for work, meaning proceedings in the Capitol could not take place.

The group fled the Capitol last Thursday in an attempt to stop the Democrat majority voting on legislation that would take action on climate change and lower emissions by 2050.

They want the proposals, known as “cap-and-trade”, to be voted on by the public, rather than politicians, however talks broke down on Wednesday evening, leading the group to take drastic action.

State Senate Chamber of the Oregon state capitol building in Salem, Oregon. It is composed of 30 members and part of the Oregon Legislative Assembly.
Image: The Democrats hold a majority in Oregon

The walk out means that the Democrats, who hold an 18 to 11 majority in the Capitol, are unable to conduct any business, as they need 20 members present in the chamber to start proceedings.

After the state’s GOP walked out, Oregon Governor Kate Brown deployed the police, in an effort to round up the 11 unruly lawmakers.

A spokeswoman for the party confirmed that some members had left the state to avoid the vote, as Oregon police have no jurisdiction outside the state.

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On Friday, the Democrats said a $500 (£392) fine would be imposed on Republicans for each day they fail to turn up to the chamber.

Republicans hit back, saying they would sue if such a threat was carried through.

The state Capitol in Salem is also facing growing anti-government protests outside, and had to close completely on Saturday due to a “possible militia threat” from demonstrators – some of which reportedly have a history of armed anti-government protesting.

ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: Oregon governor Kate Brown speaks to the press about the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage at the campus, killing 9 people and wounding another seven before he was killed. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Image: Oregon governor Kate Brown deployed the police to help round up the missing politicians

Some of the protesters even offered to provide escorts for the missing Republicans, should the state police come for them.

However, the GOP tweeted that there were no armed protesters, suggesting the threat had been fabricated.

Soon after the walk out, Oregon’s Senate president Peter Courtney begged the Republican group to return to the floor, saying: “I beg and beseech my fellow legislators to come to the floor. I need you, the Legislature needs you, the people of Oregon need you to pass budgets to take care of our citizens.

“I cannot do it without you. We cannot do it without you.”

Republican members of Oregon’s Capitol argue that the bill, which would limit emissions and auction off allowances of pollution, would raise the cost of fuel and damage small businesses, lorry drivers and the logging industry in the state.

Protests have been taking place outside the Capitol. Pic: Twitter/ Oregon GOP
Image: Protests have been taking place outside the Capitol. Pic: Twitter/ Oregon GOP

They add that it would show a growing a divide between the liberal urban parts of society and the rural, more conservative side of the community.

This is not the first time the group have walked out to block bills, after the staged a protest in May over a school funding tax package. The conflict was resolved after the promise of legislation on gun controls and vaccines.

Source: SKY NEWS

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