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Oregon cancels legislative session Saturday over threats from militia groups

By Nicholas Sakelaris

June 22 (UPI) -- The Oregon state senate canceled its Saturday session over concerns that armed militia groups could gather outside the capital and threaten lawmakers.

The Oregon GOP Twitter account said "Democrats canceled their weekend session citing a fear that Republican voters may show up."

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This comes two days after Republicans walked out of the legislature in protest of a cap and trade bill that would reduce greenhouse gases, eliminate the use of fossil fuels and require other climate-related changes.

Oregon State Police and partner agencies "are planning accordingly," Oregon State Police Capt. Tim Fox said.

"We have been monitoring information throughout the day that indicates the safety of legislators, staff and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized," Fox said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. talked with ABC KGW8 about his whereabouts. He said he is out of state.

"Undisclosed location a long ways from home," Baertschiger said.

A few dozen protesters showed up Saturday to oppose the climate change bill and support the Republicans who left Thursday.

The Republican walk out puts the legislature in a stalemate because of lack of a quorum as it nears its end on June 30. The Senate Republicans said in a statement Thursday that the cap and trade bill should be put on the ballot "so every Oregonian has a voice." They have said the left-leaning legislature doesn't represent Oregon voters, especially in the logging industry, which they say would be harmed by the cap and trade bill.

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Senate Republican Whip Dennis Linthicum said in a statement that his party will "run the clock out on the legislative session."

The lack of a quorum could kill hundreds of bills as the legislature winds down, not just the cap and trade bill, known as House Bill 20.

Gov. Kate Brown gave state police permission to look for Senate Republicans and bring them to Salem. She has also suggested calling a special session for July.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent in this building," Brown said earlier this week. "They need to return and do the jobs they were elected to do."

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