By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Oregon State Senate Republicans continued their standoff with the Democratic supermajority Tuesday even as Republican Senator Brian Boquist told a television station that Oregon State Police (OSP) should “send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

Gov. Kate Brown authorized the state police to fulfill the Senate Democrats’ request to bring the senators back June 20, provoking Boquist’s response.

Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire Magazine, said, “the Republican senators — with the full support of the Oregon Republican Party — made common cause with armed domestic terror groups. (Calling them a militia is a misnomer, regardless of what they may think of themselves.)”

Pierce said local domestic terror groups sprang to Boquist’s defense.

A member of the Oregon 3 Percenters — a militia group whose members have vowed to combat what they perceive as constitutional infringement — said they would act as the senators’ de-facto bodyguards against the state police, according to the ThinkProgress website.

“We have vowed to provide security, transportation and refuge for those Senators in need,” the 3 Percenters wrote in a Facebook post.

The senators left the state last week to stop the Democratic supermajority from passing HB 2020 — a bill they say favors urban areas of Oregon and will damage the economy in rural areas, especially those dependent on logging and agriculture.

The Democrats could have passed the bill without Republican support, but they could not seat a quorum or hold a vote without the Republicans. However, Senate President Peter Courtney said yesterday, “The bill lacks the votes in the Senate to pass.”

It was unclear if the Democrats had sacrificed the bill to get Republicans back in the legislature or if a combination of rural Democrats had decided to vote against the bill with the Republicans.

HB 2020 would cap carbon emissions and charge polluters for their greenhouse gas production in an effort to meet the state’s carbon emission reduction goals. Democratic lawmakers have called the bill the “Clean Energy Jobs Bill,” to emphasize the potential creation of jobs from a transition to green energy. Republicans, however, said the bill would force fossil fuel prices higher to reduce consumption.

Rep. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) said he opposes the bill, saying it will burden rural communities with costs many businesses cannot afford. He added HB 2020 would raise the prices on products made in Oregon and harm our ability to compete.

Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) did not respond to calls or emails asking for comment.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) said, “Protesting cap-and-trade by walking out today represents our constituency and exactly how we should be doing our job.”

Downplaying Boquist’s threats and the 3 Percenters’ support, Curry County Commissioner Court Boice said no one is serious about harming OSP officers. He said he opposed the bill and supported the senators’ decision to leave.

“I’m thankful that every Republican senator left the Capitol also in respectful protest,” Boice said. “what choice did they have?

“Urban public officials have only made those terrible gaps between rural and metro larger — it’s a tragedy as they continually talk about building bridges but do and vote the opposite. Oregon is following the way of California as our struggling, resource-strapped companies and cherished employers leave for states where they are appreciated and respected.”

Boice characterized HB 2020 as “a terrible piece of legislation that will hurt the citizens of Curry County.” He called on Brown and the OSP leadership to diffuse the situation.

Senate Republican Leader, Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) released a statement June 24 reporting “no deal with the Democrats has been made. I have been in communications without any results and nothing has been determined.”

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com

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