Tag Archives: Oregon Legislature

Editorials & Reporting Indicate 2020’s Failed Legislative Session Will Come Back to Bite Republicans in November

Oregon’s 2020 legislative “session” is history with virtually nothing to show for its scheduled 35 days, thanks to the taxpayer-funded walk-out by Republicans. The GOP legislators walked off the job to prevent passage of the cap-and-trade bill, but of course, their not showing up for work meant the demise of scores of other important pieces of legislation. These include bills that could have resulted in more affordable housing, an earthquake early-warning system, mental health clinics, wildfire resilience for the state’s forests and communities, secure storage of firearms and free breakfasts to more than 100,000 additional children.

Will the GOP tactic hurt candidates next November?  It certainly should, and media coverage indicates it certainly will.  Take a look at some of the analysis:

The “grievous miscalculation” was also covered in the national media; this Vox story is one example: “Oregon Republicans are subverting democracy by running away. Again.

Then there’s the walk-off’s telling backstory, reported by the Associated Press, which explained why Republicans were refusing to return to Salem unless Democrats allowed the cap-and-trade bill to go before Oregon’s voters: 

“Doing so would likely have generated a ‘no’ campaign paid for by the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry. Since July, Oregon Republican legislators have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from corporations and industry groups, including the fossil fuels industry, according to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.”

Read the AP story here on the KATU website. 

How deep-seated is this partnership between Republican lawmakers and corporate interests?  This article, published last June in The Nation, is revealing and alarming: Behind Oregon’s GOP Walkout Is a Sordid Story of Corporate Cash

All these articles will dismay you, but you’ll also feel determined to ensure we see big changes come November.

Recommended Reading….

Capital Chatter: Will the GOP walkout?

16 January 2020 | Written by Dick Hughes/ For Oregon Capital Insider

All options remain on the table for Senate Republicans as the 2020 legislative session approaches.

The plot thickened this week in the Oregon Capitol.

Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, confirmed what has been on everyone’s minds: All options remain on the table for Senate Republicans as the 2020 legislative session approaches. That includes walking out to deny Democrats a quorum for passing the carbon cap and trade bill.

Read Hughes’s full analysis of what to expect during the legislative session that begins February 3.

Health Care for All Oregon: How a Landmark Bill Became Law During the Often Combative 2019 Legislative Session

With the short 2020 legislative session about to begin, it’s a good time to remember one of the surprising successes of 2019. While last year’s session was marred by the cowardly walk-out by Republican lawmakers who could not bring themselves to vote for a cap-and-trade bill in spite of the urgent need to respond to the climate crisis, there was, fortunately, a last-minute, bi-partisan victory for Oregonians.  

Health-care expert and consultant Charles Gallia, who in 2018 was the strong, though ultimately unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Senate District 20, shared the backstory of Senate Bill 770, which establishes a task force on universal health care, with Clackamas County Democrats at a recent Central Committee meeting.

Charles Gallia (center) with Oregon City school board member Anna Farmer and Health Care for All Oregon vice president Valdez Bravo

Health Care for All Oregon, a statewide coalition of over 120 member and endorsing organizations, asked Gallia to help draft the bill. Gallia recalled, “You can imagine the excitement of being asked, ‘so what would you do if you started from scratch to build a system that was going to provide universal access to health care to your neighbors, your family, the next generation.” He turned to the World Health Organization to confirm which issues are key to a successful health care system.  He found that most important were:

  • Improving the health status of individuals, families and communities; 
  • Defending the population against health threats; 
  • Protecting people against the financial consequences of ill health; 
  • Providing equitable access to people-centered care; and, most important in Gallia’s eyes,
  • Making it possible for people to participate in decisions affecting their health and health status.

“Oregon has a culture of leading in certain areas, and health care is one of those areas,” Gallia said. “When we built the Oregon health plan in the first place, decades ago, one of the things we did is travel around the state to many communities, listening to people along with state representatives and senators.  What I learned was a deep appreciation for the values that make Oregon special. People looked ahead and said, we need to be investing in prevention, child care, and we need to be thinking about what contributes to well-being outside the medical setting, and we should have less priority on those higher risk, experimental kinds of surgeries that often don’t result in a prolongation of life, but merely in an extension of someone’s misery.

“So we used the same kind of building blocks for this bill, an opportunity for citizens to engage in controlling their own health care. When I looked at health care in other states, I found that many ended up squaring off with the insurance industry, but we are going to do this the Oregon way, working at the grassroots. 


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Environmental Score Card for Clackamas Legislators

by Peter Toll

Democratic legislators in Clackamas County got high marks from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters for their 2019 votes on 14 pieces of legislation.  

And there’s a new wrinkle this year as OLCV gave an “incomplete” grade to Republicans  who walked out on a key climate change bill rather than vote against it.

On the Senate side, Lake Oswego’s Rob Wagner tied with Happy Valley’s Shemia Fagan with 94 percent.  Kathleen Taylor, of SE Portland, came in with 88 per cent. All three Republicans fared poorly, earning incompletes.  

A hint of their performance can be gained in looking at the 2017 session.  Alan Olsen, of Canby, didn’t vote appropriately on even one bill. He got a goose egg.  Chuck Thomsen, of Hood River, earned 29 percent then, and Kim Thatcher, of Keizer, who represents Wilsonville in the State Senate, had just 33 per cent two years ago.

Over in the House, newcomer Rachel Prusak, of West Linn, voted perfectly—100 percent.  Other high performing Democrats included:


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Intraparty Differences over Clean Air Funding

By William Street

There is a deep historic division in Oregon Democratic circles most commonly referred to as “Jobs versus Environment.” This split crosses industrial lines: workers in extractive industries, such as forestry, are often pitted against workers in less polluting industries. It crosses rural/urban lines since many workers in extractive industries live in rural portions of Oregon.

This historic division appeared again last week when House Democrats refused to fund the governor’s Cleaner Air Oregon initiative. The sum: $1 million to be paid by polluters. Continue reading