Oregon’s climate bill is apparently dead this session, and Democrats in the Legislature have only themselves to blame. The bill is a mess. We can’t get weepy about it.
The Legislature’s Democrats tried to wedge it through, paying scant attention to the views of the minority Republicans. That’s a privilege of being the party in power. It doesn’t make it right.
Senate Republicans walked out — some hiding in Idaho. Enough were gone to deny a quorum in the Senate, so it couldn’t meet. It meant House Bill 2020, which would cap carbon emissions in Oregon, and many other bills were likely to fail this session. The session is constitutionally mandated to end on June 30.
The climate bill aims to compel Oregon to get on the path to clean energy by raising the price of carbon-based fuels. Many Oregonians may get behind that concept. It’s the details that matter. For instance, the bill could be structured to return the hundreds of millions raised by the scheme to Oregonians. Instead, Democratic leaders wanted control over the money.
Also, remember what Senate Republicans have been after. “We do believe in taking action to reduce carbon emissions, but HB 2020 is an inefficient, expensive, and constitutionally flawed bill that puts the livelihoods of many Oregonians at risk,” state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, tweeted. “We are fighting to refer it to the ballot to let the people vote!”
Gov. Kate Brown and other Democrats criticized the walkout in a medley of put-downs. “The Republicans are driving us away from the values that Oregonians hold dear, and are moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, D.C.,” Brown said.
That’s a curious perspective from Brown. In 2001, when she was the leader of the Senate Democrats, Brown backed a walkout of House Democrats who didn’t like what House Republicans were doing in a fight over redistricting. She called the action by House Democrats “very appropriate under the circumstances.”
“Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all the tools available to us,” she added.
If the words of Brown aren’t enough for you, what about the deeds of Honest Abe?
In 1840, when he was a member of the Illinois Legislature, Abraham Lincoln tried to deny a quorum by going out a window.
Surely Gov. Brown and Honest Abe put the Senate Republicans in fine company.