On Monday June 17th many of us from around the state gathered at the Capitol to be a supportive t-shirted presence in support of the Clean Energy Jobs bill. Tuesday June 18th a number of us from 350 Eugene’s Cap the Gases Campaign returned to Salem: this time to watch the Senate’s third reading (required by law) of HB 2020. We were hoping to be present for a vote that would pass the bill that has been worked on in the 14-member bi-partisan Carbon Reduction Committee for the past year. The House had already passed HB 2020 and this was the last step before sending it to the governor to sign into law!
As we watched the proceedings, we were subjected to Senator Boquist’s extremely unprofessional and threatening behavior on the Senate floor and then the subsequent walk out of Republican Senators.
That day, there were about equal numbers of loggers who are against the bill due to fears of economic loss to their industry and those of us from across the state who know the urgency and benefit of passing the carefully crafted HB 2020. Our two groups co-existed without animosity from either side, more than can be said for Senator Boquist’s unacceptable behavior.
On Tuesday June 25th we attended a youth rally to call the Republican legislators back to work and to encourage our Democratic Senators who have been under extremely challenging pressures, including a credible threat of violence that caused the senate to vacate the Capitol over the weekend of the 23/24th and caused the cancellation of a large multiple-organization demonstration scheduled for June 25th in support of the bill (expected to be 5,000 people).
We were very disappointed and shocked to hear Senator President Courtney state that he did not have the 16 of 18 necessary Democratic votes to pass the bill and ask Senators to lay it to rest and focus on other bills waiting to be passed before June 30th. The Senate was then adjourned.
After this, 50 or so youth staged a sit down protest on the Capitol steps with chants demanding the climate protections they need for their future and calling on Senator Courtney to retire.
Senator Dembrow, the lead Senator through this entire process gave a strong speech against the Republican walk out and for finding a way to pass the bill. He also stressed that much of the bill is already focused on benefiting rural Oregon. Ian Curtis from South Eugene High School and founder of Oregon Legislative Youth Initiative on Climate spoke well and clearly on the need to keep working on this climate legislation and the importance for the future of his generation.
It is highly unlikely that we will have a climate bill this session despite all of the hard work that has gone into creating a comprehensive bill with a strong environmental justice emphasis, a large investment in both rural communities and Indian tribes, and a recently added fuel tax credit/rebate to help low income residents with possible increased cost of transportation fuel.
For a vote in the Senate there must be a quorum of 20 Senators. To pass HB 2020, 16 of the 18 Democratic Senators must vote yes on the bill. Apparently there were only 15 yes votes! Only 1 short!
The 3 Democratic Senators who would not vote for the bill are: Betsy Johnson, Arnie Roblan, and Laurie Monnes Anderson. Monnes Anderson waffled until the last moment according to a source in the Capitol.
Today, June 28th, Republican Senator Herman Baertschiger gave a press conference at the Capitol indicating the Republican Senators would return to work Saturday for the last two days of this session. He indicated they will vote only on budget bills and that if there is a special session called later by the governor it will be the Democrats fault. (interesting!)
Please read Senator Dembrow’s synopsis of the benefits in HB 2020 for rural communities. We need to keep working to pass climate legislation; sitting back discouraged or defeated is just not an option!