State Politics

11 Oregon GOP senators flee to avoid climate change vote. They may be hiding in Idaho

You’ve heard the stories about how Idaho is a great place to live.

Some Oregon state legislators are reportedly checking out the Gem State for themselves after fleeing their home state.

Eleven Republican senators walked out of the Oregon Capitol on Thursday to block a vote on a climate bill. The bill has already passed the Oregon House and was expected to easily pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold a supermajority. But without at least two of the Republicans who left, there wasn’t a quorum to hold a vote.

Peggy Boquist, wife of GOP Sen. Brian Boquist of Dallas, 15 miles west of Salem, told CNN that the 11 senators are together out of state.

“They all left and are in Idaho. I don’t have a way of contacting him,” Peggy Boquist said.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, authorized the Oregon State Police to pick up the wayward lawmakers, but their jurisdiction ends at the Snake River that separates Oregon from Idaho. The Oregon governor has the authority to order the Oregon State Police to round up missing legislators for a vote.

“It’s time for the Senate Republicans to show up and do the job they were elected to do,” Brown said at a news conference, the Associated Press reported.

And the Idaho State Police aren’t offering any help, saying they lack jurisdiction.

“The Idaho State Police is not involved in the search for Oregon lawmakers, as these individuals are not suspected of breaking any Idaho laws,” ISP Col. Kedrick Wills said in a statement provided to the Idaho Statesman.

Brian Boquist caused a stir Wednesday as he issued a warning to the Oregon State Police as the threat of a walkout loomed.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” Boquist said, in remarks reported by KGW-TV in Portland. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

If the Oregon senators are in Idaho, it’s likely they’re holed up in a mountain hideaway.

Sen. Dallas Heard of Roseburg, 70 miles south of Eugene, told the Roseburg News-Review that he had arrived in an undisclosed state with “grumpy kids in the car.”

“And he had pretty sketchy cell service,” the newspaper reported.

Under state law, the missing senators will each be fined $500 a day, beginning Friday, until they return to the Capitol.

This is the second walkout during the six-month session, which by law must end June 30. Republicans left to block a school funding tax package. It lasted four days, until Brown agreed to shelve bills on gun control and vaccination requirements.

Peter Courtney, the Oregon Senate president, pleaded with the missing senators to return.

“I beg and beseech my fellow legislators to come to the floor,” Courtney said from the Senate floor, the Associated Press reported. “I need you, the Legislature needs you, the people of Oregon need you to pass budgets to take care of our citizens.”

The climate bill would place a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and require companies to buy permits to pollute. The number of permits would eventually decline and become more expensive, giving companies an incentive to invest in pollution-control equipment.

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Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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