Johnson and Witt.tif

State Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) and State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose).

Oregon House Republicans did not attend a scheduled evening floor session, slowing up the 35-day short legislative session. House Republican Leader Christine Drazan said Tuesday, Feb. 18, that Oregon State Republicans would not attend the floor session that evening.

If 21 of the 22 Republicans don’t show up for a session, that denies Democrats the two-thirds quorum needed to carry out lawmaking and meet deadlines. There has been speculation about a Republican walkout in the 2020 session. They have vowed to stop a bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions, saying it would damage the state's economy.

Democrats State Sen. Betsy Johnson and State Rep. Brad Witt issued a statement as the news of a walkout broke. The following is their statement:

“The politics surrounding SB 1530 are deeply disappointing. The proponents are desperate to pass a bill that will result in no significant environmental gains but will greatly burden the pocket books of our constituents. 

On Monday, one of the co-sponsors of the bill proposed that opponents of SB 1530 seek a last-minute amendment to benefit pulp and paper mills.

This thinly veiled attempt to “improve” the bill by holding good union pulp and paper workers hostage is unacceptable. If the co-sponsor of the bill thinks we can “save” pulp and paper jobs with an amendment, why wasn’t the fix included in the original bill? 

Why wouldn’t the co-sponsors use their superior negotiating position to add the amendment themselves? How disingenuous is it to ask opponents of SB 1530 to beg for their constituents’ jobs?

The only way to save pulp and paper mills and Oregon manufacturing is to stop the politicking and get serious about a carbon reduction policy that doesn’t annex our state into California, where there are no pulp mills thanks to the cap and trade program.”

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, a Portland Democrat, issued a statement calling Republicans back to work.

“Unfortunately, the politics of obstruction seems to be more powerful to my colleagues across the aisle,” Smith Warner said. "What House Republicans are doing tonight is not about protecting anything, it’s not about process, it’s not about pacing - it’s about politics"

"Those members who refuse to show up for work tonight and do their job are saying to a large majority of Oregonians: your voice doesn’t matter and your vote doesn’t matter. Oregonians deserve much better," Smith said.

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