Shortly before Democratic Gov. Kate Brown ordered Oregon State Police troopers to force the Republican senators back to the Capitol on Thursday, state Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, was driving out of the state with grumpy kids in the car, and telling The News-Review he feels Democrats are out of control.
Eleven Senate Republicans had walked out of the Capitol on Thursday morning so there would be no quorum for the Legislature to take action on a climate bill. The Republicans said they plan to continue their strike through the end of session June 30, effectively killing all remaining attempts at legislation.
Troopers were dispatched Thursday to bring the senators back in handcuffs if necessary, but most, like Heard, were expected to head out of the state.
Thursday afternoon, when The News-Review reached Heard again, he had arrived in that undisclosed other state. And he had pretty sketchy cell service.
But he had plenty to say about the governor’s actions.
“It feels like tyranny on parade,” he said.
Heard said he’s had some discussions with law enforcement officers, and he doesn’t believe they’ll comply with the governor’s order. But either way, he doesn’t plan to go back any time soon. Even if the governor were to call special sessions later in the summer, he said he wouldn’t attend.
“I’m willing to sacrifice whatever it takes. If I can get people to stand with us, it’s worth it,” he said.
He said he’s personally more concerned about the Democrats’ plan to fine the missing senators $500 a day, which he said would be harmful to his ability to take care of his family, than he is about the possibility of being dragged to the Capitol.
Heard called the governor’s actions hypocritical.
“We’re talking about a governor who herself walked out and protested the legislature back in 2001 and denied quorum back in the waning days of that legislative session, and here she is the governor now using the state troopers of this state as her own personal police force,” Heard said.
He said the Democratic party’s absolute hold on the Oregon government has left them drunk with power. These are the types of actions that dictators take, he said.
He said it’s unlikely that he’ll be found where he is.
“I’m not really worried about all that. I’m more worried about the precedent that’s being set here, and I’m going to be eagerly watching to see if the people wake up and say, ‘Enough,’ or if they’re going to show me that they really just don’t care anymore and they deserve whatever comes to ‘em, which’ll be sad. But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen,” he said.
Oregon State Police said in a press release Thursday afternoon that the Oregon Constitution allows the governor to take the action she did.
“Oregon State Police serves the Governor in her elected role as leader of Oregon’s Executive Branch of government, and she has now given a lawful directive which OSP is fully committed to executing,” it said.
It also said it has helped resolve similar situations in the past with the help of diplomats from both sides of the aisle, and that it is having polite communications with the senators because patience and communication is its first, preferred option.
Brown released a statement saying she took the action because the Senate had come to an impasse.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back 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,” it said.