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Oregon GOP senators walk out over climate legislation

Oregon state capitol building(Getty Images)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Republicans have fled the Statehouse – and the state – to avoid taking a vote on a landmark climate plan.

Republicans want the proposal – aimed at lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions – to be sent to the voters for approval. A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans says Thursday that negotiations with Democrats fell apart late Wednesday evening, prompting conservatives to pursue a walkout.

The spokeswoman also confirms that some members have even left the state to avoid a vote.

The governor’s office confirmed Wednesday that Gov. Kate Brown is preparing to deploy the State Police to physically compel members back to the statehouse.

Oregon State Police doesn’t have jurisdiction beyond state lines.

Democrats want to pass cap and trade, a free market solution to lower industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Cap and trade is a top priority for Democrats, who view the program as a way to meet the state’s emission goals.

Under a cap and trade program, the state would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution “allowances” for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Democrats have presented the proposal as an efficient way to lower emissions while investing in low-income and rural communities’ ability to adapt to climate change.

Conservatives say it would hurt business and do little to stem the tide of climate change.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., responded to the governor’s threats, saying that Democrats’ climate proposals threaten business and the livelihoods of rural communities.

Democrats control both the Oregon House and Senate. The GOP has previously used walkouts as a way to slow the legislative process.

Republicans walked out of the Senate earlier this session in protest of a school funding tax package. The standoff lasted four days, until the governor struck a deal to table legislation on gun control and vaccine requirements.

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