Oregon GOP lawmakers who fled capitol to avoid climate bill vote face $500 daily fines

The Republican state lawmakers in Oregon who skipped town this week to avoid voting on a climate bill are reportedly facing fines if they don’t return to the state Legislature soon. 

According to a local NBC station, the state senators will be fined $500 for every day they don’t show to vote on the bill beginning Friday. Supporters have reportedly raised over $6,000 to help the Republican lawmakers cover the costs of the fines through a GoFundMe campaign.

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Although the bill has already passed the Democratic-controlled state House and is poised to pass the state Senate, where Democrats also hold the majority, a number of Republican lawmakers have fled the state to deny their colleagues a quorum in the upper chamber.

Their efforts come in opposition of House Bill 2020, a major climate bill that seeks to place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Ahead of the bill’s scheduled vote in the state Senate on Thursday, a number of GOP state senators already threatened to walk out over concerns about a number of “energy intensive, trade-exposed” businesses in rural communities that could be hurt by the measure, including timber companies.

As a result, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), who is expected to the sign the bill, authorized the state police to bring the Republican lawmakers back to the capitol.

“The Senate Republicans have decided to abandon their duty to serve their constituents and walk out,” she said in a statement on Thursday. “The Senate Democrats have requested the assistance of the Oregon State Police to bring back their colleagues to finish the work they committed to push forward for Oregonians.”

“As the executive of the agency, I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats’ request,” she continued, adding that it "is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building.”

“They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do,” she said.