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Oregon Republicans go missing to avoid climate change vote; governor sends police to find them

Oregon lawmakers walkout of legislative session

Republicans in Oregon's state government have gone missing — and the governor is sending police to go find them. Gov. Kate Brown dispatched Oregon State Police to search for 11 Senate Republicans who walked off the job to avoid a vote for a climate change bill. Their whereabouts are unknown.

"The Senate Republicans have decided to abandon their duty to serve their constituents and walk out," Brown said in a statement.

Officers can arrest the lawmakers if they refuse to willfully return, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV reports. The Republicans will each be fined $500 a day if they don't return to work by 11 a.m. Friday.

"I am authorizing the State Police to fulfill the Senate Democrats' request," Brown said. "It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their backs 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."

The bill would make Oregon the second state to have a comprehensive cap-and-invest strategy for combating climate change. The bill has faced opposition from Republicans, as well as loggers and truckers, who say it would cut jobs in the logging industry and increase fuel prices. Hundreds of truckers and loggers protested the bill at the state Capitol. Supporters of the bill hope to reduce emissions over time and move businesses away from fossil fuels.

The Oregon Senate Republicans Twitter account posted a quote from Brown in 2001, when she was Senate Democratic leader, supporting a walkout by Democrats over a Republican legislative redistricting bill. "Well here we are, Senate Rs fighting for Oregonians," the tweet read.

This is the second time in two months that Oregon's Senate Republican walked out in protest. After a four-day walkout in May, Brown made a deal with the GOP over a school funding tax package. Republicans made a trade off with the governor and promised not to walk out again.

"This is a sad day for Oregon," Republican Sen. Herman Baertschiger tweeted. "There is no fine that could ever amount to the FEAR democrats have put on Oregonians over the #hb2020 legislation that will destroy livelihoods of many in our state."