SALEM, Ore. — Following a short legislative session that fell flat amid the acrimony over a bill aimed at capping carbon emissions, funding for a few budget measures that would have otherwise died with the untimely end of the session has been approved by the Oregon Legislative Emergency Board.
Alongside those unfinished funding measures comes $5 million for the state's response to COVID-19, now an official emergency following an announcement this weekend, and another $5 million that will likely form the foundation of Governor Kate Brown's executive action on carbon emissions.
Governor Kate Brown convenes the Coronavirus Response Team (Gov. Kate Brown Press Office / My Oregon News).
The Legislative Emergency Board represents a small subset of Oregon lawmakers charged with allocating emergency funds and other matters when the full legislature is not in session.
The board's allocations included considerable funding for flood recovery efforts in northeastern Oregon, most of which was put on indefinite hold during the Republican walkout while the session remained ongoing.
$5 million from the state's emergency fund will go to the Oregon Health Authority, while the board also raised the ceiling on federal fund expenditures "to support coronavirus emergency response activities" once a plan is presented and approved.
The Oregon Military Department will also receive $2.7 million from the emergency fund for an "all-hazard emergency preparedness and response program."
Finally, the state Emergency Board approved $5 million from the emergency fund for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) "to be used for rulemaking and other actions with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all emissions sources, including point sources, natural gas emissions and transportation fuels."
When the legislative session ended without a compromise between Democrats and Republicans on cap-and-trade, Governor Brown said that she would make good on a promise to deliver climate change solutions through executive action if a legislative route did not succeed.
“I have always been clear that a legislative solution was my preferred path to tackle the impacts of climate change for the resources it would bring to our rural communities and the flexibility it would provide for our businesses," Brown said last week. "However, I will not back down. In the coming days, I will be taking executive action to lower our greenhouse gas emissions."
On Monday the Oregonian/OregonLive reported that DEQ director Richard Whitman said Brown's executive order would be coming "very soon."