Republicans stall legislative session

So far, the Republican’s antics range from the Wednesday floor session no-show to the Thursday bill read that lasted nearly four hours.

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Wednesday’s floor session saw 12 empty desks, with not a single Republican in sight.

With just 17 of 18 Democrats on the floor, and without at least one Republican, senators lacked the bipartisan 20-member quorum they need to convene.

“You’ve got to have a quorum to do the work of the Senate,” a weary President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said from the dais at 5:13 p.m. as Democrats milled about the chamber. Some were bemused, others frustrated. A handful of House Republicans, gawking at the spectacle, had joined them.

The coordinated no-show — unheard of in recent memory — threatens to send this session’s partisan tensions to a new zenith. It also comes, crucially, as time runs out to pass bills before the Legislature’s March 6 deadline to adjourn.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

After the Senate endured lengthy bill reads, “Democrats insisted their resolve hasn’t faded,” according to Oregon Live.

“We’re committed to coming back for long hours,” said Senate President Pro Tem Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland. “Obviously not every bill that everyone wants is going to get done. It’s a short session.”

But Republicans made clear they’ll walk again if Democrats try for evening or weekend floor sessions in the days leading to the March 6 deadline to adjourn. That stance, along with their insistence on reading bills, has stacked dozens of measures on the Senate floor — creating a queue that may not clear in time.

Senators cleared 12 measures on their voting calendar Thursday morning, pushing 10 others to Friday’s calendar. Friday’s calendar, meanwhile, already has 16 bills waiting. That pressure will only grow once budget bills, one of them more than 100 pages, arrive and need to be read aloud — a process that will likely take hours.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Despite setbacks, the energy bill is advancing through the House.

Senate Bill 1547 has already passed the Senate. If the House passes the bill, it will go back to the Senate for a final up-or-down vote, without the threat of a lengthy delay.

HB 4036, now mainly contained in SB 1547, passed 39-20 last week, with five Republicans supporting it.

(READ MORE: Bend Bulletin)