That prevented Democrats from establishing a quorum and voting on House Bill 2020 Thursday. It lays out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80 percent below 1990 emissions levels by the year 2050.
Democrats said their colleagues are turning their back on their constituents, while Republicans said they’re doing it for their constituents.
House Bill 2020 would place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions—and the state’s largest polluters would pay per ton—after their emissions go beyond that cap. It’s something Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., R-Grants Pass, said will devastate anybody in the natural resource industry.
“We have to have that brute horsepower to do what we do,” Beartshiger said, “to push dirt, to haul logs, to do all that stuff that’s, the world. So this bill would just destroy that.”
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, asked Governor Kate Brown to have Oregon State Police bring republicans back to the chamber. “This is the saddest day of my legislative life,” Courtney said.
“We understand they feel strongly about this,” said State Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, “but the kind of rhetoric that this is going to destroy Oregon businesses and the economy is just false.”
Golden said the bill will have it’s challenges, but doing nothing won’t help them reach an agreement. “Stopping that work, that’s not okay,” Golden said. “That’s not fulfilling their responsibilities as elected officials.”
But republicans are resolute, insisting they’re doing it for the people.
“They’re afraid,” said Beartshiger. “They’re afraid that their livelihood is gonna go away.”
This isn’t the first time senate republicans, who are outnumbered in both the senate and house, have walked out. Back in May democrats had to scrap two bills—one on gun control and another on vaccines—to bring republicans back to the senate, so they could vote on the student success act. It was eventually passed and signed by Governor Brown.
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