By editorial board • 

Cap and trade can wait for convening of 2021 session

When House Democrats staged a walkout in 1971, they were acting on solemn principle. When Senate Democrats walked out in 1971 and 1995, more solemn principle. And when House Democrats stole away in 2001, with the encouragement of then-legislator Kate Brown? Yep, solemn principle.

In 2001, Brown called the Democratic walkout “very appropriate under the circumstances.” She refused to rule out repeat use, terming it “fair to say we would use all tools available.” She rejected accusations of forsaking sacred duties and engaging in partisan gamesmanship

But that was then and this is now.

Then, Brown was serving as Senate minority leader. Now, she’s serving as governor. Then, Democrats felt they were being marginalized, leaving them no recourse. Now, Republicans feel they are being marginalized, leaving them no recourse.

When Senate Republicans staged a walkout last year, they cited nothing less than solemn principle. Like Brown, they refused to rule out the use of this “tool” again, “under the circumstances.”

Given the circumstances — a repeat cap and trade run during a session constitutionally limited to 35 days — they made good on that. And they’ve since been joined by House Republicans.

Last year, Brown brushed aside her party’s own walkout history. She threatened to have dissident Republicans rounded up by the state police and forcibly returned. Never mind the fact they had fled to Idaho, which was not about to welcome armed invaders from Oregon.

Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time, but needs to be addressed on the national or international level, not the state level. The bill before us is full of troubling uncertainties, but promises to exact an economic price in excess of its environmental payoff, and disproportionately affect rural working class Oregonians desperate for a bigger share of the bounty.

What’s more, when the electorate authorized short, even-year sessions in 2010, the promise was they would be limited to budgetary adjustments and housekeeping measures. The intent was never to address matters of sweep and scope.

Unfortunately, that has been roundly ignored from the outset.

Editorially, we complained of overly ambitious goals in 2012, unwarranted mischief in 2014, a “bag of big-ticket agenda items” in 2016, a logjam of new ventures in 2018, and an agenda putting the lie to the housekeeping pledge in 2020. We counseled strongly against a re-try this session on cap and trade, which was, ironically, ultimately scuttled by a trio of Senate Democrats, not the Senate Republicans who embarked on a mid-session sojourn to Idaho.

Regrettably, partisanship is working its stealthy magic on both sides.

Democratic dominance is rooted in the heavily populated Willamette Valley, where fervent environmentalists easily outnumber irate millworkers. So embracing cap and trade is politically popular.

Republicans hold sway in the 18 counties on Oregon’s dry east side, and a cadre of counties in timber-covered Southern Oregon. For them, opposing cap and trade is not just politically expedient, it’s politically essential.

Cap and trade deserves a full and fair airing, but that’s not possible in a 35-day session putting time at such a premium. Its rightful place is the 2021 legislative agenda.


Don Dix

Governor Brown wants to make all the rules, and change them at her whim. It's OK for the Ds to walk out of session (with her direction), but the Rs are not to have that opportunity (for a very similar reason). She is the very definition of duplicitous.

The 'short sessions' were allowed because the promise was 'housekeeping' between regular sessions. By attempting to push a cap and trade bill through in a short session, the Ds are apparently admitting they lied and deceived the public when explaining the necessity of the short sessions.

Senate Pres. Courtney claims it's 'a matter of trust' in his chamber. Yep! But it's not the Rs who cannot be trusted. The Ds haven't been up front or truthful since the inception of the short sessions (read article's explanation). Most people who have egg on their face would look for a solution to clean up and admit their mistake. Instead, the story is twisted to blames the Rs, as the Ds stand by still wearing that egg.

It appears Oregon's government has been taken over by a class of people who's only qualification to serve in the legislature is a distinct lack of moral compass! Think about that next election!

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