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Oregon Senate Session Canceled After Militia Threat

Senate floor sessions were planned for this weekend, but Saturday’s session was canceled after militia groups threatened to show up at the Capitol in Salem, state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward tweeted Friday evening.

Oregon State Police confirmed to KATU that Saturday’s session was called off. The Associated Press reported a spokeswoman for Senate President Peter Courtney said state police recommended the Capitol be closed Saturday.

For the last two days, Senate Republicans have staged a walkout in protest over a controversial cap and trade bill Democrats say is needed to curb human-caused climate change. The walkout has denied the Senate a quorum.

In her tweet, Steiner Hayward, a Democrat, attached a text message informing members to stay clear of the Capitol.

After media began reporting on her tweet, Steiner Hayward deleted it. But before she did, KATU News had grabbed a screen capture of it.

Before this week’s walkout, rhetoric became heated and Republican state Sen. Brian Boquist made threatening remarks toward other lawmakers and OSP troopers as Gov. Kate Brown and Senate Democrats considered calling in state police to bring missing senators back into the Senate chamber.

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Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, both Democrats, issued a joint statement Friday afternoon condemning Boquist’s remarks.

“We strongly condemn the comments made this week in the Oregon State Capitol by Senator Brian Boquist threatening lawmakers and Oregon State Police troopers. Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day in the name of protecting Oregonians and should never be subject to these kinds of threats, let alone from a public official. His comments have created fear among employees in our workplace. We will always defend free speech and welcome frank policy discussions, but threats like these are unacceptable.”

When Republicans began their walk out Thursday, Brown called in state troopers to find the senators and bring them back to the Senate, but most have reportedly left the state.

Shortly after it was announced the Senate had canceled its Saturday session, the Oregon Republican Party tweeted the Democrats had canceled the session because of a “fear that Republican voters may show up.”

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It wasn’t immediately clear whether the threat was from militia members showing up or whether it was something more serious.