Oregon Climate Bill Causes Instability Within The Capitol
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Politics and Activism

Oregon Climate Bill Causes Instability Within The Capitol

A cap-and-trade bill brought about traffic jams, missing legislators, and a delay in lawmaking decisions.

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Oregon Climate Bill Causes Instability Within The Capitol

Commotion struck Oregon's capital city of Salem in June as the bill HB2020 passed the House and moved onto the Senate. It's a cap-and-trade bill that was widely debated because of its extremity. Under the bill, "Oregon would aim to lower emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050," according to OPB. Although this drastic cut would be incredibly beneficial for the planet, it includes a high tax on the biggest polluters in the state - primarily the logging and agricultural industries. Logging and farming may be the state's biggest polluters, but they're also some of the biggest contributors to the state's economy.

This opinion article speaks to the point of view of many Republicans: the bill restricts the freedom of the working class. Most Democrats, however, see the bill as being a crucial step in our fight against climate change, and one that could inspire other places to follow suit.

This rift, though, became escalated when it reached the Senate. To vote on the bill, Democrats needed a quorum, which is basically the minimum number of people required to be present. However, to prevent the bill from passing, 11 state Republicans decided not to show up so that the quorum was not met. The Oregonian cites "the state's rural residents {and} the economically vulnerable industries they continue to rely on" as the reasoning behind the Republicans' absences. When it came down to it, the Republicans were willing to do whatever it took to avoid returning and voting on the bill - including crossing state lines. Vox reported on the walkout, including Gov. Kate Brown's order to send police to find the Republicans. Each person was fined $500 per day they were away from the capitol. Republican state Senator Brian Boquist even threatened police and is now facing consequences for doing so. The Senators did not return for nine days - not until they knew the bill was dead.

As a result of the Republicans' behavior, there have been many negative public reactions.

Defending the Republicans, though, many Oregon small business owners, primarily loggers and farmers, protested the bill at the Capitol in Salem.

This Republican tactic may have been juvenile, but it was successful because the legislation was not passed.

KATU reported on Gov. Kate Brown's response to this. Primarily, she said, she plans to modify the proposal in the near future. She, like many others, believe that greenhouse gas reduction is necessary to defeat climate change and to create clean energy jobs.

So, this bill may not have been the one, but I predict that there will be many similar proposals in the future. Climate change is a fight that we must not abandon, but we must work together towards victory. It is something that has and will continue to impact us all. Whatever compromises we must make, they must be decided on rationally and democratically. Make your voice heard! Contact your legislators and advocate for the policies you want to see set in place.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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