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Unfinished business: Oregon legislative session ends early, without any compromise

With Republicans refusing to return from their walkout over cap-and-trade without concessions and Democrats refusing to budge, the 2020 short session came to an untimely end.

Posted: Mar 5, 2020 3:30 PM
Updated: Mar 5, 2020 4:34 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The 2020 Oregon legislative session ended with an impasse on Thursday. With Republican lawmakers unwilling to return without assurances that a cap-and-trade bill would be off the table, and Democrats unwilling to let the other side "cherry pick" bills, neither side flinched.

With that, and with no Republicans in sight, Democratic lawmakers elected to close up shop. Both the House and Senate chambers adjourned the (particularly) short session.

The end of the session marks the end of the line for a number of critical funding bills, many of which likely would have received bipartisan support: Flood relief for Eastern Oregon, wildfire-fighting funds for the state's Department of Forestry, money to help address the housing and homelessness crisis, and funds to support the state's ailing mental health system.

According to Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, "nearly a hundred bills" will die in the Senate due to the grid-locked session.


CONTEXT: Oregon Senate Republicans walk out to deny cap-and-trade vote


As Republicans crowed, however, Thursday marked the end of the line for the cap-and-trade bill — regardless of the session's end. In regards to the other bills, Republicans pointed the finger back at their Democratic colleagues.

"I am shocked at the Speaker’s decision to end the session prematurely," said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby. "We still had time to pass necessary funding items to address the needs of Oregonians across the state, but Democratic leaders chose to sacrifice these budget bills and shared priorities in the name of their no-compromise approach to capand-trade. The supermajority set the agenda for this session, they inexplicably refused to allow Oregonians to vote on cap-and-trade, and they own this failed outcome."

Governor Kate Brown said that she would instead seek executive action to reach a similar end that the bill promised, a reduction in the state's carbon footprint.

“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. "However, I will not back down. In the coming days, I will be taking executive action to lower our greenhouse gas emissions."


RELATED: Gov. Brown invokes executive order if compromise on climate bill can't be reached (2019)


Brown also said that she would be open to convening a special session, likely to revisit the funding bills that came to an untimely end this session:

“I am open to calling a special session if we can ensure it will benefit Oregonians. However, until legislative leaders bring me a plan for a functioning session I’m not going to waste taxpayer dollars on calling them back to the State Capitol.”

Environmental groups lauded the decision, praising Democrats for not giving into the walk-out tactics that Republicans have increasingly adopted of late.

"Today the Governor, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, and the Democratic members of the Senate and House showed all Oregonians what true leadership looks like," said Doug Moore, executive director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. "In the face of the Republicans’ desertion of their jobs and abdication of their duties as legislators, we can take heart that they will not get the last word."

“Legislative leadership showed the strength Oregonians deserve by refusing to give in to the Republican walkouts, after repeated abuses. I am proud as an Oregonian of their resolve and their unwavering commitment to continue the work of the people this year,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4810222

Reported Deaths: 70598
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147569426398
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3636444159
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871372
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
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