Oregon House GOP members return amid short-session slowdown

Politics

Short legislative session getting testier by the day

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A day after skipping a scheduled night session in the short legislative session, Republican lawmakers were back on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives Wednesday — but showed no interest in picking up their pace.

The session held Wednesday lasted for hours as Republican lawmakers refused to waive a rule that requires bills to be read in their entirety before a vote is held. House Speaker Tina Kotek also flexed her political muscle by invoking a “call of the House” which prevents anyone from leaving the House floor.

But keeping members on the floor meant many people who had come to the Capitol to meet with House lawmakers had their meetings canceled.

“We can’t send everybody home, we’ve had people come from Pendleton, Southern Oregon — all over the state,” said Robert Camarillo with the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council.

Also complicating the situation is the fact that the 2020 session of the Legislature lasts only 35 days and lawmakers have to be gone by early March.

Senate Bill 1530 is supposed to help curb greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon. Many people spoke passionately both for and against the bill during a work session in the Joint Subcommittee on Natural Resources on Wednesday afternoon.

Terry Lunsford’s son-in-law owns a logging company. She spoke out against the cap-and-trade bill during

“Most of these small companies will not be able to comply,” she told lawmakers.

Lunsford and others who don’t support the legislation are calling for a public vote to let Oregonians make the final choice themselves.

“What is the harm in letting people vote?” questioned Lunsford. “No matter how much it costs, the $20 million you say it’s going to cost for people to vote — is that not our right to be able to vote on something that impacts not only all Oregonians but especially rural Oregonians?”

A South Salem High School student who supports the cap-and-trade bill said that she was tired of delays. She and others urged lawmakers to pass the bill without further delay.

“I know that we are worth more than the corporate polluters who fund many of the people here on this subcommittee,” said Angelique Prater. “I know that we are worth more than the pollution that they put into our air. Instead of buying into this greed, I ask that corporate polluters be held accountable through SB 1530.”

Amelia Porterfield, the senior policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, supports the bill.

“SB 1530 will help Oregon contribute our share to address a global crisis,” she said.

The question remains as to whether Republicans will stage a walkout to block the cap-and-trade bill from a vote.

The Oregon House of Representatives, Feb. 19, 2020. (KOIN)

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