(SALEM, Ore.) — For the second year in a row, Oregon Republicans walked out of the statehouse Monday and delayed a vote on a major climate change bill.The Oregon state Senate lacked the 20-member minimum to have a quorum after all of the Republican members failed to show up. The two sides have been debating a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions from major industries, including energy providers, industrial companies and fossil fuel companies, and require them to buy credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit.Oregon Gov. Kate Brown chastised the Republicans for holding up the legislative session with only two weeks left on the calendar.”If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it, or show up and vote no,” Brown, a Democrat, said at a news conference Monday.Democratic and Republican state Senate leaders didn’t return messages from ABC News asking for comment.The cap-and-trade bill aims to reduce emissions levels in the state to 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035, and to at least 80% below by 2050. Environmentalists say the money from the credits would pay for programs and initiatives that would improve Oregon’s environment, such as flood mitigation.Opponents, however, contend that the gas companies would pass along the cost of the credits to the consumer, and drivers across the state would pay more at the pump.When the bill was introduced last year, GOP lawmakers walked out of the statehouse and went into hiding before it was set for a vote. Brown sent the state police to search for the missing legislators, but in the end the bill was not brought up for a vote because there weren’t enough senators.Brown said the bill was updated during this session to reflect the concerns of rural Oregonians and business owners. Rural drivers would now be exempt from gas price increases, and the state would allow utilities to recover the costs for alternative fuel-based vehicles.”It provides real flexibility for local manufacturers,” Brown said.Senate Republicans attempted to have the cap and trade bill put up as a ballot initiative, but that was struck down by a Senate committee.Brown said she is currently not considering any action to bring the Republican senators back to the statehouse, but called on them again to perform their duties.”This makes it very clear: the Republicans who walked out are not against climate policy; they are against the democratic process,” she said. “It is incredibly disappointing, and a sad moment for Oregon.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
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