SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House version of a divisive cap-and-trade bill, House Bill 4159, has yet to emerge from the committee stage of this legislative session, but it has already stirred up its fair share of dramatic gestures.
On Thursday, House Republican members of the Committee on Energy and Environment said that they walked out of the session and refused to vote as the committee considered cap-and-trade.
“In a symbolic gesture, we have decided to step out of the room and not take a vote on a bill that would devastate Oregon’s economy,” said Representative Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, vice-chair of the committee. “We have tried to engage with our colleagues on this issue, but have repeatedly been denied the opportunity to represent our districts in this conversation. Cap and trade will raise costs of living on all Oregonians, drive business out of the state, and hand control over to unelected bureaucrats. Oregonians are being denied access, and we won’t stand for it.”
An earlier statement from House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, indicated that the sticking point came from a lack of public hearings on the bill.
“This move denied Oregonians the opportunity to provide testimony and discuss this very complicated legislation,” said Drazan. "The cap and trade proposals currently in front of the legislature give unelected bureaucrats the power to raise costs for businesses and Oregon families. I am calling on Speaker Kotek to schedule public hearings on this bill to give Oregonians an opportunity to be heard.”
The Senate version of the bill, SB 1530, has already had several public hearings, one of which coincided with the Timber Unity rally last Thursday that drew flocks of opponents of the bill.
HB 4159 now moves onto the House Committee on Rules, while SB 1530 has been referred to the Joint Ways and Means Committee.
“ Our broad coalition is encouraged to see the cap-and-invest bill pass out of its first committee. There is no time to waste and we cannot turn our backs on climate action in Oregon,” said Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon. “At the same time, we’re disappointed to see the clean air protections and investments continue to slip backward in this amended version. Those who have delayed this bill for years continue to work in ideas from polluting industry. Even still, this is a good step toward meaningful climate action, which we’ll continue to push for on behalf of a vast majority of Oregonians who want to see it happen now.”