The Oregon State Police, still hunting for Republican lawmakers who are in hiding to avoid a vote on a controversial climate-change bill, have convinced state authorities to shut down the Oregon Capitol on Saturday after they reported a “possible militia threat” due to a scheduled protest by conservatives.
The apparent perceived threat is due to the expected presence during demonstrations on Saturday of a group called the Oregon Three Percenters, who participated in an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. That standoff involved dozens of people who occupied the refuge for several weeks to protest federal control of Western lands and culminated in federal officers fatally shooting the group’s spokesman and the arrest of the group’s leaders.
Oregon State Police indicated in a statement that they have been “monitoring information throughout the day that indicates the safety of legislators, staff and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized.”
The current mess in Oregon is the result of 12 Republican lawmakers who are on the lam, many of them reportedly out-of-state, as they attempt to wait out a deadline on an Oregon Senate vote on a milestone bill that will limit greenhouse gas emissions and auction pollution allowances for carbon that businesses want to emit, with a lowering cap. The bill aims to reduce emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050.
Opponents say it will hurt businesses and intensify a growing conflict between liberal, urban areas and rural parts of the state. Oregon would be the second state after California to adopt such a policy.
Democrats hold an 18-12 majority in the Senate, but they need 20 present for a quorum. All 12 Republicans have gone into hiding to prevent the vote from taking place. They plan on running out the clock on the bill which expires June 30.
Conservative groups were planning a protest on Saturday before the closing of the Senate was announced. They say the law will hit rural and lower income Oregonians hard by instantly raising gas prices $0.22 a gallon and much more as time passes.
Earlier in the week, Democrat Governor Kate Brown ordered the Oregon State Police to track down the Republican senators and bring them back to the chamber.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building,” said Brown, according to KOIN 6. “They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do.”
“Protesting cap-and-trade by walking out today represents our constituency and exactly how we should be doing our job,” Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., replied in a statement Thursday from an unknown location. “We have endured threats of arrest, fines and pulling community project funds from the governor, Senate president and majority leader. We will not stand by and be bullied by the majority party any longer.”
At least some of the missing Republicans are taking the situation very seriously. Sen. Brian Boquist responded to the governor’s order by telling state police to “send bachelors and come heavily armed” if they come for him.
Watch a segment on the controversial move by the Oregon governor to hunt down Republican lawmakers …
Video by Fox News
— Jonathan A. Lockwood (@JNTHN_LCKWD) June 22, 2019
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