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Knopp explains his balk at GOP boycott: ‘I can’t work … from out of state’

Oregon Capitol
KTVZ file

(Update: Adding Knopp statement on staying, poll and Gov. Brown comments on walkout)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — All but one Republican state senator -- Bend's Tim Knopp -- on Monday boycotted the Oregon Legislature, denying Democrats a quorum in an attempt to doom a contentious climate change bill.

Knopp later provided a statement to NewsChannel 21 at why he did not join in the latest walkout. Here it is, in full:

"I’m at the Capitol this session to work on Commercial Activities Tax reductions and modifications that if not passed will have a negative impact on Central Oregon businesses. Failure to pass changes will lead to businesses closing, moving or hiring fewer people.

"Additionally, I’m working on a bill to freeze property taxes for low-income seniors, along with several other local priorities, including bonds for OSU-Cascades and new judges for Deschutes County, to name a few. I can’t work on those priorities from out of state.

"My Senate district has been very clear that they want me to be at the Capitol and oppose the cap and trade bill, and that’s what I’m doing. The people of Oregon should get a vote on the cap and trade bill," Knopp's statement concluded.

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, a Democrat from Portland, accused the other Republican senators of “a dereliction of duty.”

“These Oregon Senate Republicans are denying their constituents the representation they deserve and shutting down our democratic institution,” Burdick said.

A legislative panel approved Senate Bill 1530 earlier Monday after it rejected a proposed GOP amendment to put the issue on the ballot in November. Last year, Republicans, who are in the minority in both the Senate and House, also walked out to kill environmental legislation.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown accused the Republican lawmakers of “being against the Democratic process.” The minority Republicans staged two walkouts last year, leading Senate President Peter Courtney to request Brown to order the state police to bring the missing lawmakers back. This time, though, Courtney said he won’t involve the state police.

A few large trucks supporting the Republicans drove around the Oregon State Capitol, blowing their horns. After Courtney announced on the Senate floor that not enough senators were present to convene Monday’s session, several people in an upper gallery clapped. Courtney said he would order police to expel them if they persisted.

A visibly angry Brown denounced the boycott as undemocratic.

“If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it or show up and vote no. They should make their voices heard rather than shut down state government,” she said at a news conference.

The latest so-called cap-and-trade bill calls for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and to at least 80% below by 2050. The bill would force big greenhouse gas emitters to obtain credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Opponents say fossil fuel companies will wind up offloading increased costs to customers.

Republican lawmakers said a matter of this magnitude should be brought before voters to decide. Sen. Fred Girod, a Republican from Stayton, said before the vote that if the committee passed the amendment “we would stick around.”

“Just give them the right to vote,” Girod told fellow members of the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee. So many people wanted to observe the proceedings that there was an overflow room where they could watch on a large TV screen.

After the committee voted, Republicans failed to show up for a scheduled floor session of the Democratic-majority Senate. Senate President Peter Courtney noted that only 19 senators were present -- Knopp and 18 Democrats -- one short of the number needed for a quorum and for the Senate to conduct business.

Knopp was not present on the first Senate roll call but was for the second, according to Andrew Selsky of The Associated Press.

Courtney said the Senate would attempt to reopen on Tuesday.

“I implore my fellow senators to please return to this chamber,” Courtney said, pointing out that many bills remained to be handled and saying there are enough votes to pass the climate change bill.

But Republican senators, who are in the minority and who staged two walkouts in the 2019 session -- over an education funding tax and over an earlier version of the climate bill — appeared prepared to stay away.

“If my colleagues will not allow for a fair process in the building, then I will represent my constituents from outside the building.” said Republican Sen. Lynn Findley in a statement.

At a recent public hearing on the bill, loggers expressed concern it would lead to increased costs and the demise of their business. Others said global warming was an emergency that was already affecting them and would affect their children and grandchildren even worse.

The committee’s passage of the bill sent it to the Senate floor for a second vote.

NASA says that in the absence of major action to reduce emissions, global temperature is on track to rise by an average of 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 Celsius), citing the latest estimates.

“Because climate change is a truly global, complex problem with economic, social, political and moral ramifications, the solution will require both a globally-coordinated response (such as international policies and agreements between countries, a push to cleaner forms of energy) and local efforts on the city- and regional-level,” NASA says on its climate website.


Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics
cap and trade bill
Oregon Legislature
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