Oregon State Police attempts to round up Senators for cap-and-trade vote

June 21, 2019

Keith Goble

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Politics are at play at the Oregon statehouse as Republicans and Democrats tussle over a much-ballyhooed cap-and-trade program.

Officials on both sides of the issue acknowledge that cap and trade would not significantly reduce emissions. Majority Democrats, however, say California-style emission regulations is a big step toward slowing down climate change.

Minority Republicans say the plan would cost jobs, including some in the trucking industry, and hurt rural economies. They cite higher fuel prices and businesses that are likely to leave the state.

The House voted 36-24 on Monday, June 17, to advance a bill to set statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Before HB2020 can move to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her expected signature, Senators must take up the matter for a final vote.

In an effort to deny Senate Democrats the quorum necessary to conduct business, Senate Republicans scattered in the hours prior to a scheduled Thursday vote.

In response, Gov. Brown has deployed the Oregon State Police to search for the missing members and return them to Salem so a vote can take place.

The legislation caps greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, Oregon companies that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon annually would be regulated.

A market would also be created for companies to buy and sell allowances that permit them to emit a specific amount of carbon dioxide.

The program would begin in 2021 with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Democratic governor has said if Republican legislators are successful in preventing a quorum before the regular session concludes on June 30 she will call a special session this summer to approve the legislation.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger of Grants Pass said all his party wants is to allow Oregon voters to decide on the issue.

“My caucus and I have been threatened by the governor, Senate president and majority leader with fines and arrests because they do not agree with our stance,” Baertschiger said in the hours before his departure from the capitol.

GOP lawmakers have indicated they could ultimately take the matter to the Oregon Supreme Court. Republicans say the cap-and-trade bill is effectively a tax.

The Oregon Constitution requires a three-fifths supermajority for passing taxes.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oregon, click here.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.