When last we checked in on the Republicans in the Oregon state Senate, they had fled the state to prevent a liberal cap and trade scheme from being enacted in the name of saving the planet or whatever. With the legislative session coming to a close, however, the Democrats gave up on their plans and announced that the cap and trade bill would be tabled, inviting the GOP to return to clean up some remaining items of business. In a somewhat remarkable example of trust, most of them did so and brought this rather awkward saga to a close. (Associated Press)
Some Republican lawmakers returned to the Oregon Senate on Saturday, ending a walkout over a carbon-emissions bill they said would harm their rural constituents.
Nine of the 12 minority Republicans returned after Senate President Peter Courtney said the majority Democrats lacked the votes to pass the legislation aimed at countering climate change. The House had previously passed the bill, one of the centerpieces of Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, which is scheduled to end on Sunday.
Democrats have an 18 to 12 majority in the Senate but need at least 20 members — and therefore at least two Republicans — to vote on legislation.
The legislature finished off a number of important budget items along with other outstanding bills once the Republicans returned. Good to their word, the Democrats didn’t try to force a surprise vote on cap and trade, saying that they were no longer sure they even had the votes to force it through. So… all’s well that ends well?
Not really. The two sides to this coin are equally offputting. On the one hand, Oregon’s Democrats have crafted a similar bill to the one in California that is on course to further crash that state’s economy in the coming years. Oregon is a much smaller state. If this bill is passed, they will indeed lower carbon emissions for their one tiny piece of the world but will do so by driving any number of small businesses out of the state when they can no longer afford to pay the escalating carbon taxes, taking their jobs with them.
Placed on the scales of global justice, andy change in the amount of emissions that Oregon creates compared to China, India and everyone else will have zero measurable impact on global atmospheric contributions no matter how you feel about the subject of climate change. The impact on the employees of the affected companies, however, will be very real and immediate. The GOP attempting to steer the Democrats away from this path of folly is admirable in terms of the downstream effects.
But the Democrats are already pledging to take this fight to round two when they next convene, so all that’s been done for now amounts to nothing more than a delay of the inevitable. Still, the Democrats admitted they were barely able to wrangle the votes to pass this in the Senate, so perhaps there is hope that more minds can be persuaded to accept common sense.
So in one sense, the GOP accomplished something positive. But as I wrote previously, the method causes damage of its own. They need to convince the voters, not the other Democrats in the Senate. They need to establish public support for defeating this plan, not shut down the established process to prevent the system from working as designed. And yes, I’m aware that the Democrats do this fleebagger thing on a regular basis around the country, but that doesn’t mean that it makes it any more defensible for the GOP to do it. It’s wrong. Win the day with a better argument on the issues, not with this sort of political circus.