Bentz unsure what the next step is for Senate Republicans

Oregon Sen. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) said he wasn’t sure what the next step will be for state Republican lawmakers after Peter Courtney (D-Salem), the Oregon Senate President, said a divisive climate bill didn’t have enough Democratic votes to move forward. (The Enterprise/File).

SALEM – A bitterly divisive climate bill that sent Senate Republican lawmakers fleeing from the Capitol doesn’t have enough support among Democrats to move forward.

That message was delivered today by Oregon Senate President

Peter Courtney (D-Salem) regarding House Bill 2020, a proposal to cut Oregon’s carbon emissions.

“House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate Floor. That will not change,” said Courtney.

Republican lawmakers bolted from Salem six days ago to protest the greenhouse gas emission legislation, depriving the Senate of a quorum.

Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who represents Malheur County in the Senate, is now somewhere in Idaho and said Tuesday that Courtney’s comments were confusing.

“I don’t know what it means,” said Bentz.

Bentz said he doesn’t distrust Courtney but isn’t sure what the next step is.

“I don’t know, procedurally, how we procced from here,” said Bentz.

Bentz, an attorney, said he isn’t sure if he will return to Oregon any time soon and it was “unclear” when he would.

He was a key legislator for Republicans in work on the environmental legislation. He has said he was frustrated that his proposals to modify the legislation went nowhere.

Legislative business is stalled because of the absence of the Senate GOP lawmakers. There are 18 Democrats in the Senate and 12 Republicans. Two Republican lawmakers must be in attendance in the Senate for the 20 members needed to do business and vote.

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