State legislators flee state to avoid vote

A historic moment in climate policy is currently unfolding in Oregon as the fate of a state bill to initiate a strong carbon pricing program hangs in the balance. E2 and our members have worked for the last six months to pass this bill, but as the end of session nears we are facing unexpected and extreme challenges.

First, the good news: On Monday June 17, members of the Oregon House of Representatives voted to pass HB 2020. It was the first time in Oregon history a cap-and-invest program to reduce climate pollution has ever received a floor vote in either chamber. This historic vote would not have been possible without support from the business community. Advancing the narrative and providing a little star power, E2 mobilized former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pen this op-ed in The Oregonian, extolling the economic opportunity of Cap and Invest in Oregon.

Now the challenging news: Following the House victory, the bill was scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Thursday, June 21. In advance of Thursday’s vote, Senate Republicans refused to show up to the Capitol — preventing the quorum needed to hold a vote. Governor Kate Brown has promised to hold a special session if needed and has authorized state police to bring back the Senate Republicans to Salem.

Senate Republicans remain absent, and the situation is still unfolding. Tuesday morning saw the Senate President make detrimental remarks on the bill’s vote count, but the bill is not dead and we understand that many Democratic Senators and Governor Kate Brown remain interested in advancing the vote. E2 has mobilized our Oregon members and supporters to encourage senate supporters of the bill to remain strong and not bow to pressure to weaken the bill and to ask their colleagues to return to Salem for a vote. The session ends this week, presenting the legislature with a hard stop. If a special session is called, the legislative process would start over, and HB 2020 would return to committees to start anew.

With an economy representative of states throughout America, instituting economy-wide cap and trade program in Oregon would continue to pave a path forward and create significant momentum to advance carbon pricing in America. Oregon would join California and Quebec, advancing the region’s carbon market and encouraging innovation, investment, and job creation in the clean economy.

We remain actively engaged and our legislative strategy is evolving as the situation advances.

June 25th, 2019 was originally published in e2org on Medium.