Our Opinion: Boquist should apologize. Now.
State Sen. Brian Boquist on Thursday threatened violence against State Police; the people who keep violence out of the State Capitol.
Boquist represents a sprawling district which stretches from rural Corvallis north to McMinnville and parts of rural Cornelius and southern Hillsboro, including neighborhoods around Hillsboro High School.
Republicans walked out Thursday to protest a vote on a controversial cap-and-trade bill which Democrats expect to pass.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown had said she had spoken with Oregon State Police about the possibility to using troopers to find errant Republican lawmakers to bring them back to the capitol.
Boquist didn't take that well, telling reporters with KGW-TV that he told Oregon State Police to "send bachelors and come heavily armed," if troopers were sent to arrest him.
"I'm not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon," he said. "It's just that simple."
First, Boquist must apologize to the State Police for his panicky, half-cocked comment. Second, Senate Republican Leader Herman E. Baertschiger needs to announce what measures he'll take to censure Boquist. And third, until such time as he apologizes, Boquist needs to be removed from all committees. That's at a minimum.
The Democrats hold so-called supermajorities in both chambers and the governorship. That means they have passed a number of bills this session that Republicans don't like.
In May, Senate Republicans walked out of doing their job to protest the Student Success Act, which pumped an additional $1 billion per year into public K-12 schools. It worked, and Democrats made painful concessions to get them back.
Now, in the final days of the 2019 session, the Democrats are poised to pass a carbon-reduction bill, a form of "cap-and-trade," that is opposed by Republicans and many in the business community. So on Wednesday of this week, Republicans threatened to walk out again.
If there are too few senators in the Senate chamber, an entire branch of the legislature cannot conduct the people's business. The walkout is a strategy to gain concessions from the party in power.
As has happened in the past, the governor can order State Police to round up legislators and get them back in the chamber for a vote. Overly dramatic? Sure. But not without precedent.
Except this time, Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, threatened violence against police and, indirectly, against Senate President Peter Courtney.
He also said, of Courtney, "And you send the state police to get me? Hell's coming to visit you personally."
This is legislation we're talking about. These are well-known tactics for getting to a "yes" or "no" vote. Boquist is no newcomer. He's served two terms in the House and three in the Senate. His threat of violence against police is so far beyond the pale that it requires an immediate apology. And he knows it.
Sen. Boquist, take a moment. Breath. Stop panicking. And apologize.
You enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 and you've led soldiers into hostile territory on foreign soil. You, more than anyone, know how rank and reprehensible it is to threaten violence against police.
We've praised your guts as a lawmaker on issues ranging from public health to sensible bills to curb illegal gun violence. The word "maverick" gets bandied about too much, but you've earned that in the past.
But in this case, you've gone way, way too far and you know it.
Consider, too, that on the Student Success Act, the Portland Business Alliance "dared" to be neutral and you threatened to have CEO Sandra McDonough arrested for that, should she choose to testify before your committee! Really, sir? You'd have her arrested by State Police for taking a neutral stance on an issue, but then you threaten violence against those police?
People come to the State Capitol with strong emotions; people who win and lose on issues they care about deeply. And through all that, the State Police maintain order in the building. In 2005, a man armed with a knife stormed into the Senate chamber. State Police handled that situation, no one was hurt, and it all ended well.
Sen. Boquist: These are the very cops you just threatened.
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