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Editor's note: Following is a press release from the offices of Rep. Werner Reschke (HD 56, Klamath Falls) and Rep. Carl Wilson (HD 3, Grants Pass). Because it lays the foundation for the Senate Republicans' actions, I include it here.
From Rep. Werner Reschke & Rep. Carl Wilson:
As the legislature enters the final week of the 2019 session, Senate Republicans have left the State Capitol in protest of many things. Their absence means many policy and budget bills remain unpassed. A continuing resolution passed and signed before Senate Republicans left, however, will keep state government humming along for at least the next three months.
At the center of the Senate Republican protest is House Bill 2020, a Cap and Trade mechanism on carbon emissions. Republicans in both chambers have argued this bill will decimate Oregonians who live outside of Portland. Under HB 2020, gasoline prices are expected to jump $0.22/gallon to begin with and go up significantly from there. Heating by natural gas is also expected to take a major leap in price, causing average working families significant stress on their personal finances. All of this to lower Oregon’s carbon emissions to a level deemed acceptable by the extreme environmental intelligentsia.
HB 2020 was really the straw that broke the camel's back. But there is a far more fundamental reason for the Senate Republican absence from the State Capitol and that has to do with the strong-arming Democrat leadership who have a super majority in both House and Senate as well as control of the Governor’s office. This absolute control on the legislative process has meant that Democrat leadership could do whatever they want, and indeed they have. Republican Members have argued all session long they have been shut out from any meaningful input on almost every single policy shift from historic norms — many put in place by the citizen initiative process. It is this unwillingness of Democrats to allow Oregonians a direct voice on Cap and Trade, but also the new sales taxes found in HB 3427, overturning Measure 88 (granting undocumented people driver’s cards) and special deals for special interests in tax exemption status — all major policy changes, being passed by Democrat super majorities without Republican support, and more importantly, without a vote from the people. It is this blatant disregard for Oregon's working families that is at the heart of the Senate Republican walk out.
If you asked the average Democrat in Oregon if this is the agenda they approved when they voted in 2018 I bet they would say "no". Many Democrats are realizing their local party in Oregon now reflects Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez far more than Barbara Roberts. Oregonians have a built-in pioneering spirit, which values both entrepreneurism and the environment. But when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, Oregon voters usually snap it back. I believe we can safeguard our environment without having to kill our natural resource economy and dramatically raise the cost of living for everyone else. Oregonians did not vote for Salem to usurp more control and create a more intrusive role in their daily lives, but rather for State Government to be more accountable and transparent to the voters.
So far those in the super majority aren't hearing that message.
From Sen. Alan Olsen:
To my constituents,
Yes, I am no longer in Salem working on legislation. A simple reason for that is the Majority Party has no intention of letting us "work on Legislation". There is no bi-partisanship. It is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
This started early in the session when we raced through rent control, passing in on the floor in a matter of days. There was very little discussion and certainly no consideration of alternatives or amendments. It was passed as the Majority wanted it. Good bill, bad bill, no one knows . . . . > >Read more > >
From Sen. Kim Thatcher:
It's Day 2: I am one of the 11 Republican state senators who have left the state in order to deny a quorum to the tyrannical Democrats who have a super majority and are willing to go to great lengths to ensure passage of their extreme agenda.
I thought you might like to know what we are up against here in Oregon. Actually, I'm not "here" in Oregon as I've had to leave the state since the governor has authorized the Oregon State Police to round us up and bring us back to the capital.
Additionally, starting today, the Senate President is planning to fine each of us $500 a day for each session day we deny the super-majority Democrats a quorum.
Reporters have stalked my home and police came to my house just this morning to pay me a visit in case I "need a ride" to the state capital. (As if THAT'S what's keeping me away!)
The leftist organization, Our Oregon, has made large ad buys against three of us, including me. The Democrats are threatening community projects in our districts. I'm also a small business owner who works on public works projects so I'm sure I will feel their wrath there as well. Part of the job, I guess.
What's really rich, though, is that our governor, Kate Brown, orchestrated a walkout of Senate Democrats in 2001 — when she was the Senate Democrat Leader — over the Republican redistricting plan. (By the way, I think our state is still paying the price for letting them get their way on that one.)
Anyway, in 2001 she told the media that the democrat walkout was very "appropriate" and that, "Under certain circumstances it's fair to say we would use all tools available to us."
Now, in 2019, Kate Brown to media after REPUBLICANS walkout over an irreversible and extreme bill that will kill our state: "It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents....They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do."
And guess what... the Senate Republicans say "Under certain circumstances, it's fair to say we will use all tools available to us."
BUT THIS WALKOUT IS NOT ONLY ABOUT THE CAP AND TRADE BILL (or as we "lovingly" refer to as the Cap'n Crunch bill).
They passed a $2.5 Billion hidden sales tax (gross receipts tax) when we have a record amount of revenue. This tax was purportedly to help schools but will actually be going to plug the giant holes in our public pension liabilities. So we wanted PERS reform. We walked the day before the vote was scheduled on the gross receipts tax.
We were working closely with a Democrat who bucks her party all the time but still has to be careful. Since her party agreed to do meaningful PERS reform she agreed to vote for the bill. AND the D's agreed to kill the gun control bill and the forced vaccination bill going through at that time, AND reset the cap and trade bill, AND sit down with Republicans in a good faith effort to improve the bill....We promised to return and not to walk out the rest of the legislative session which is over July 1.
We returned after five days.
The day we came back, they passed tax bill the day before our revenue projections came out. Our state has so much revenue, in fact, that it triggered our state's taxpayer "kicker" law where the state returns revenue to taxpayers that exceed projections by a certain percent. More on this later. The hidden sales tax has made people, understandably, angry and they want to collect signatures to get it on the ballot so it can hopefully be overturned.
So, the Democrats have decided to preemptively tilt the outcome of this potential referendum in their favor. They set the date of this election to January, 2020, where there are notoriously low voter turnouts. They also granted themselves the power to circumvent the normal process for creating ballot titles by allowing themselves to write the ballot title and description (i.e. the children will suffer unless you make "corporations" pay their fair share) with verbiage that will catch the unaware.
Now back to the kicker. It will likely be over a billion dollars, averaging over $300 per taxpayer. True to form, the Democrats want to steal this money because, as you know, there's never an end to the "good" government can do with other people's money.
Meanwhile, regarding the "reset" on HB 2020 the cap n crunch bill... there have been NO Republican amendments accepted. After over a hundred different amendments having been proposed by various people, the Joint Carbon Committee (that is the actual name of it, not the Joint CO2 or "Climate Change" Committee , but whatever) scheduled many hearings, adopted a couple amendments and the bill flew through the committee process and across the House floor and was scheduled to land on the Senate floor yesterday.
After spending all day Wednesday trying to negotiate changes, it was clear they were immovable. So we left the state.
Not only was HB 2020 coming to the Senate floor yesterday, a bill that grants driver licenses to illegals was also scheduled. Both of them contain an emergency clause which precludes a referendum by voters who want to put them on the ballot.
As a side note, just a few years ago, the Oregon legislature passed a driver license bill that was successfully put on the ballot where it was handily rejected by voters 2:1. Every county, except Multnomah where Portland resides, rejected driver licenses for illegals.
The D's learned their lesson. Never again will they let a controversial bill pass that doesn't include an emergency clause. They are afraid of the voters who oddly elected them, so go figure.
If we stay out of Salem, other bills will die as well. The California style "clean diesel" bill (won't be able to register and operate any diesels built prior to 2007), the vote manipulation bill for the hidden sales tax, the driver licenses for illegals bill and the bills they had previously agreed to kill: the gun control bill and the forced vaccination bill.
I'm in xxxx for the moment. Governor Xxx xxx has stated that no Oregon Senate Republicans are welcome here. I believe he would back that up by using his own law enforcement to help Gov. Brown get her way on the draconian agenda being forced down our throats in Oregon.
That's all for now.
Sent from my iPhone
Day 3: Legislative leadership decided to close the capitol building today. So, so many wonderful people from all walks of life were going to be there to express their support for what the Republicans have done in fleeing the state to avoid the quorum.
OSP apparently advised that since "militia" groups (one from the many walks of life) were also going to be there that they should shut it down. Heck, that saves us all $500! Gees. If that’s all it takes, then they should plan rallies for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday......
Actually. I've been thinking a lot about the walkout today as I drove. How we got to this point.
The Senate Republican Caucus decision to walk was not made lightly. We were working up until the last possible moments to avoid it. We had plead with and thought we had agreement from the Senate President to take a couple days to "second read" the bill so we could work to lessen the devastating impact it will have on people of Oregon; to actually see if we could get any semblance of a "reset" the Democrats has promised weeks before.
Instead, it was second read the afternoon of June 19th, the day after it was first read, two days after it passed the House floor. That meant it was heading to the Senate floor, the final chamber, for final passage Thursday June 20th.
Now, I know I've mentioned the Democrats walking out in 2001. Compare the two: They walked out over a redistricting plan. It was all about protecting or ensuring their political power.
They got it.
And we have seen many a bad bill fly through that building since they got that power in 2007; more than I can even remember. But never have I seen the abuse of power that I have seen this session.
While it is the most "nuclear" of the few tools available to us as a minority, Oregon Republican Senators had no option but to walk out. We did it to preserve our state and to stop the irreversible devastation upon our neighbors and friends; to head off saddling our children and children's children on into the future long after we are gone, with huge liabilities.
That's the difference. They walked to gather power; we walked to save our state.
Day 3 (actually 4, just realized): This is Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher. It's Sunday and the press seems to be losing it. Appreciate all the support from Oregonians all across the state. I just want to remind people that this is a non-violent protest. Any talk of Senate Republicans coordinating with militia groups is just fake news to distract people from the truth.
The walkout is about protecting Oregonians and the future of our state. The lies about so-called militia are to detract from the core issue. It's just a shiny object the left is using to distract you from scrutinizing their abuse of power. Unfortunately, the media seem to love shiny objects from the left. #capkillsjobs #hb2020
Day 5: Monday June 24, 2019
Oregon Senator Kim Thatcher here. Can't believe how busy the past 5 days have been! So much to keep up with.
Today, I took a small break and walked in to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in (City, State) and some guy was loudly conversing with another guy: "Did you hear what’s happening in Oregon!?" he exclaimed. And the other guy DID know what was happening in Oregon. I quickly put on my sunglasses and continued to browse casually while trying to eavesdrop.
It was clear they didn't really grasp the full depth of what is at stake. This walkout isn't just Republicans pouting about not getting their way. Believe me. We haven't had our way in a LONG time: Oregon has been under one party rule for decades.
No, what's at stake is truly the future of Oregon. Should legislators hand over control of our economy to an unelected bureaucrat who can enact rules on businesses in the name of climate change when NOTHING in this plan will help the environment?
Should this person be given the latitude to bind our state through long term contracts with other states and foreign governments?
Should the legislature not allow the people of Oregon to weigh in on all this?
I think the answers are obvious.
The cost/benefit ratio is way too high. Exorbitant costs. Negligible benefit. And all will be virtually irreversible in the future because of the contracts our state WILL BE BOUND to.
Nope. HB 2020 just isn’t your run-of-the-mill "vote no and go home" kind of bill. It is packed with life-altering and devastating impacts on our state.
Yes, there are a lot of other bad bills as well but the lack of a reset on 2020 was ultimately the dealbreaker that pushed us into the walkout.
Thanks for all you support. Wish I could see you at the rally at the capitol this Thursday. Come as early as you can and stay as late as you can.
Day 6 Tuesday June 25, 2019: This is Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher and today Is the sixth day we 11 Oregon Republicans have denied a quorum in protest of the extreme overreach of those who’ve held the reins of government for far too long.
By the way, I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to whichever group ran ads against me and my colleagues regarding our continued denial of a quorum. The ads have done much to help bring more attention to the supermajority's draconian agenda and how the 11 of us are fighting for Oregon; though I doubt that’s what they intended. It’s unbelievable how many people have contacted my office because of these ads, saying how happy they are that we’ve stayed away to keep HB 2020 from final passage. Not only that, my office fielded calls from all over Oregon as well as from all across the United States thanking us for taking a stand. > > >Read More > > >
Day 7 June 26, 2019: Senator Kim Thatcher here. The rumor mill is working overtime today! There is no deal. Senate Republicans are not all flying in on an airplane tomorrow or any other day. Heck, we are not even all together in one place nor do any of us know where the other ones are. Well...actually...we've all heard of a few being in various places in Idaho but beyond that... don't know. > > Read more > >
Update 6 :
Day 8 June 27, 2019: Today the Democrats stood still...and the walls of the Capitol shook...because of the EPIC rally witnessed by the world today in little old Salem, Oregon. It was an unprecedented joining of Oregonians who have had ENOUGH of being stepped on, overlooked, used, and forgotten. It was a joining of people who are SICK of the Democrats’ tax, spend and regulate-every-aspect-of-their-lives agenda!
— Oh, the humanity! How could they have overreached to the point that so many citizens (record numbers) turned out to protest them and their superior socialistic ideas? Don’t people know that the government knows best how to spend their money? And to tell them how and where to live? Don't they realize that if left to their own devices, they won’t possibly be able to function?—
This date will live in infamy as the day the Demos learned that the citizens of Oregon aren't buying what they are shoveling! The people want and demand their liberty!
The state of Oregon changed today. And for the better. Thank you, all.
It's over. We will be in session Saturday. > > View Kim's First live feed > >
Day 9 June 28, 2019 — Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher:
Its been a maddeningly exhausting 9 days since the Oregon Senate Republicans went on strike, denying a quorum in the Oregon State Senate. This was certainly no "vacation", you can be assured!
Heading home today. Oregon's my home. Yes, a song is stuck in my head today that says something like this:
"I live in Oregon, Oregon's my home. I love the rocks, the trees, the places I have known...I long to be there in my home sweet home"
Just be glad you weren't hearing me sing it. Anyway, I just got home as I write this. It really feels good to be back!
The Senate Republicans are returning to session tomorrow and the Senate is going to take action ensuring demise of an elaborate cap and trade plan that would unalterably ruin our state... IF things go as agreed upon. We plan to be there to pass the budget bills and finish the work of the Senate, putting a lid on this contentious session Sunday evening.
That is, again, IF the Democrats don't decide to play games delaying budget bills such that the budget can't be finished this weekend, ensuring the governor calls us into a special session. If they do, it wouldn't shock me and it would just be one more example of their abuse of power.
Stay tuned. Keep the faith and stay strong. Thank you for all your support. Your words have helped bring me true hope for the future of our state. Big day tomorrow. Good night!
PS:If you recognize that song I was attempting to describe above, let me know who sings it so I can add it to my playlist!
From Sen. Herman Baertschiger
Senate Republican Leader, Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) released a statement on Sunday, 23 June, following the peaceful rallies at the Capitol building over the weekend:
"The peaceful rallies on the steps this weekend were done by Oregonians who will be directly impacted by the gas and emissions tax or House Bill 2020. Democrats were reactionary to rumors and lacked the courage to face these Oregonians by closing the Capitol building — when it was scheduled to be open — on Saturday and limiting space in the gallery of the Senate Chamber — forcing them into committee rooms to watch the floor — on Sunday. My caucus and I continue to stand firm and remain out of the state. We are working for our constituents and all Oregonians. Thank you to everyone who has expressed support."
Press release, Monday, 24 June:
"Despite the onslaught of rumors, as of today, no deal with the Democrats has been made. I have been in communications without any results and nothing has been determined. My caucus and I intend to remain out of the state. We are working for our constituents and all Oregonians against House Bill 2020, the devastating gas and emissions tax."
From Sen. Fred Girod
Friends, I made a promise to the people in my district that I was going to #StayGone and that's what I'm going to do.
I respect my colleagues who are going back to kill HB2020 and who are going to vote on budget items that frankly, matter to many of the families in rural Oregon. In fact, there are bills in the mix that were personally important to me. But in all the years I've been in the legislature, I've never seen a session go so far off the rails where the majority party runs roughshod over the minority voices.
Yesterday, I sat and watched the live streams of the #TimberUnity rally with tears in my eyes because in all these years, I've never felt so supported.
I know that there are some who are disappointed or confused about why the Senate Rs are going back.
Hear this….you all made a very loud statement.
You were heard, and a bad bill that would drive up gas, food and home fuel prices….YOU killed that. Your first rallies empowered us to leave last week. The rally yesterday changed the political dynamic in Oregon.
Rural Oregonians have found their voice. Moderate suburban Democrats who work blue collar jobs….they found their voices too. If you all work to keep getting organized, mobilize, think about running for office, be present in our Capitol, grow your groups strong….you can be a force of nature coming back into the next legislative session.
It's brave to walk out….it's brave to go back.
But never doubt, it was YOUR actions that changed the dialogue, and that empowered change.
Do not lose momentum.
Do not lose conviction.
Come back to fight strong in 2020.
And never again elect people who don't stand up with you!
I made you a promise to stay gone, and I'm keeping it. I'll be back in Salem for Legislative Days in September when we meet again. And I'll be ready to stand with you to stop bills like HB2020 in February.
You all have been an inspiration, you've renewed my faith in Oregon voters, and you've set the tone for the next legislative session. I am humbled, and I just can't thank you enough.
Editor's PS: Read three earlier posts from Sen. Girod at his legislative FaceBook page. I chose to finish on this post because of its inspirational message.