Oregon's legislature is about to vote on a piece of climate change cap-and-trade legislation that the Democratic majority are likely to win, so to avoid the vote, 12 Oregon state senators have gone into hiding, thus depriving the senate of the necessary quorum.
Under state law, the governor — also a Democrat — is entitled to dispatch state troopers to drag lawmakers back to Salem for a vote, and to levy fines on lawmakers who don't show up for work. Governor Kate Brown has fined the absent senators $500 each and asked the troopers to locate and return them.
Meanwhile, the AWOL Republicans are widely believed to be hiding out of state — the Oregon state cops are coordinating with neighboring states' law enforcement to locate them — and Republican State Senator Brian Boquist issued this communique from his undisclosed bunker: "Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I'm not going to be a political prisoner."
The situation has attracted the attention of armed white nationalist paramilitary groups like the 3%ers and Oath Keepers; Paul Luhrs of the 3%ers announced that the group's leadership had voted to support the Republican Senators (Luhrs believes that they are in Idaho) and has "vowed to provide security, transportation and refuge…doing whatever it takes to keep these Senators safe."
Oregon was home to a protracted armed standoff involving a group of white nationalist domestic terrorists who illegally occupied the Malheur wildlife refuge. The terrorists destroyed public lands, pointed guns at cops and threatened to shoot them, and were involved in high-speed chases, and were not convicted because they are white.
Oregon's Republican lawmkers went into hiding in May for four days to avoid a vote on a school funding bill. Oregon Senate Republican leader Herman Baertschiger Jr bemoaned the fact that the minority Republicans are being "bullied by the majority party."
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown authorized state police to find the lawmakers and bring them back. They are each being fined $500 for every day there aren't enough senators for a vote. (So far, it's been two days.) Oregon State Police said they are also coordinating with law enforcement agencies in nearby states to find the Republicans.
Brown lamented the stunt to avoid passing the bill. "It would have been historic for Oregon, historic for the country, and frankly historic for the world," she said during a press conference Thursday. "Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have failed to show up and failed to do their jobs."