GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A bill that would create one of the nation’s most sweeping programs to address climate change is within one vote of becoming law after it passed the Oregon House on Monday. Following six hours of debate, a sharply divided chamber voted 36-24 to pass House Bill 2020. The bill — the highest policy priority remaining for Democrats this session — would create a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation, manufacturing and utility sectors. Oregon would be the second state after California to enact such a policy. Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, joked that the issue had become a matter of the “woke,” who support the bill, versus rural “rubes,” who don’t. She counted herself in the second category. “If it walks like a tax, if it acts like a tax, if it quacks like a tax, it’s a tax,” McLane said. Republicans dismissed the notion that the cap-and-trade proposal would create environmental change. They instead predicted that price increases would prompt businesses to leave the state and lay off workers, and be a burden for low-income families.
After a marathon debate, some stall tactics by Republicans, and the expression of a lot of frustration, the House passed Oregon’s controversial climate policy bill Monday on a 36-to-24 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a narrower vote margin for passage is already creating more drama. House Republicans kept the debate going for nearly six-and-half hours, many rising several times to decry the “disastrous” effects they contend the bill will have on jobs, energy prices and Oregon’s economy, all for an “imperceptible” impact on global greenhouse emissions.
After more than six hours of debate, the Oregon House today passed House Bill 2020, a long-awaited effort to meet the state’s carbon emission reduction goals. State Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, carried the bill on floor. “This is the most destructive piece of legislation to ever come through the House of Representatives,” Wilson said in a statement. “Workers will tremendously suffer under Cap and Trade. Thousands of jobs will be lost. Wages will decline, gas prices will climb, and family budgets will be strained. Climate change is a global problem, not an Oregon problem. Oregon’s workers should not be punished for the reckless environmental policies of China and India.”
After a decade of work, the Oregon Legislature is poised to approve a sweeping, economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions meant to help halt climate change. House Bill 2020 was approved by the Oregon House Monday on a 36-24 vote. It now goes before the Senate. Gov. Kate Brown has said she will sign the bill. The legislation has the potential to completely reshape Oregon’s economy. Supporters predict it will result in an electrified transportation system, new jobs in clean energy, and will be a catalyst for other states to take action. Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, ridiculed Power’s assertion that the bill will help slow climate change. “Seriously? It has an imperceptible impact on climate change,” McLane said. “When you’re so desperate to do something, you’ll do just about anything.”
The Supreme Court decided Monday against a high-stakes, election-year case about the competing rights of gay and lesbian couples and merchants who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. The justices handed bakers in the Portland, Oregon, area a small victory by throwing out a state court ruling against them and ordering judges to take a new look at their refusal to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
After months of committee hearings, House Republicans relished their final opportunity to pepper Democrats over their proposed legislation to cap greenhouse gas. They took to the floor to give grand speeches they can point to when on the campaign trail, but they weren’t able impact a vote. That was decided well before House Bill 2020 hit the floor, where it passed 36-24. It’s a significant and penultimate step for the Oregon Legislature. The bill now moves to the Senate where the vote margin will likely be slimmer, but it’s expected to pass nonetheless. However, Republicans do not believe in the mechanisms to soften the blow on low-income and rural Oregonians. They say cap and trade will destroy Oregon’s business climate – something they say Democrats have had in their crosshairs for years with policies like the clean fuel standard and “coal to clean” legislation aimed at transitioning electric utilities from coal-generated power. But in the end, the two sides just don’t see eye to eye, and Oregonians have stuffed the Capitol with Democrats. It was a point made early in floor debate by Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford. Wallan, in speaking from her opponents’ perspective, said it’s the case of the “woke” versus the “rubes.” Both find it incredibly frustrating that the other side can’t see why this policy is either imperative or disastrous.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday threw out an Oregon court ruling that fined the Christian owners of a Gresham bakery $135,000 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. But the court again chose to sidestep the issue of what protection the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom gives business owners charged with discrimination for refusing service to same-sex couples. Instead, the highest court has placed another, narrower question front and center in the case: whether the state of Oregon was biased in its treatment of the bakers in the case, Aaron and Melissa Klein.
The Oregon Lottery forecasts it will pay its sports betting contractor, SBTech, about $26.8 million over the next three years. Sports betting, scheduled to begin in September, is expected to attract $332.8 million in the first year and, as it grows more popular, $722.3 million by the third year. SBTech’s payments will correspondingly increase from $5.2 million in the first year, $9.1 million in the second and $12.5 million in the third.
Oregon lawmakers have decided to leave the drug kratom unregulated for now. Kratom is made from the leaves of a tree native to southeast Asia and, when ingested, can have an effect similar to both a stimulant and an opioid. It has become increasingly publicized and available in Oregon. In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended a series of rules and restrictions on kratom into an unrelated bill. On Monday, the Joint Ways and Means Committee reversed the earlier action and removed all references to kratom in the bill.
Contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed two barrels from Wallowa Lake on Sunday, including a rusted-out drum labeled as containing one of the two ingredients of Agent Orange. The agency said in a news release the drum had holes in it and appeared to contain lake water. Its contents will be tested to be sure. The second drum, which was unlabeled, appeared to be intact. The agency said it would sample it today.
The board will be presented with designs for the replacement buildings at Lincoln and Hoover elementary schools and Crescent Valley High School. The board also will see designs for the remodeling at Garfield School, but work there has been pushed back. Patten said the presentation will include some conceptual floor plans for the designs, but the plans won’t get into detail about things like what the schools will look like or where windows will be located. However, it should include more general layout items, such as how much area rooms have, where wings of classrooms will be placed and where bathrooms will be located.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a graduate of Lane Community College in Eugene, shared her experience and advice Friday with graduates of Clatsop Community College. The college awarded more than 150 degrees and career certificates at Patriot Hall. The Oregon Democrat was the most high-profile politician to give the keynote speech at graduation since Gov. Kate Brown, who spoke in 2015. Bonamici pushed graduates to take risks, keep their integrity and kindness, appreciate those who have helped them, stay informed and engaged, learn different viewpoints and make art part of their lives. “Access to education levels the playing field,” the congresswoman said. “That’s important. Education can give students from every background the opportunity to succeed and to thrive.”