Oregon Legislators Walk Out on Climate

Effort to become second U.S. state to cap climate pollution statewide in limbo after walkout by Senate Republicans

Oregon’s legislative session ended on Sunday night without a final vote on the Clean Energy Jobs Bill (HB 2020), which would cap carbon pollution and invest in clean energy solutions across the state. The bill, championed by Governor Kate Brown, passed the House by a wide margin (36-24), but never got a chance to come up for a vote on the Senate floor after Senate Republicans fled the state in a political stunt to deny a quorum.

The nine-day walkout, which quickly turned ugly, ended after Senate President Peter Courtney capitulated and abruptly announced on the floor that there were not enough Democratic votes to pass the bill (Democrats have an 18-12 majority in the Senate but need at least 20 members present to vote on legislation). That left activists, and Governor Brown, mystified, as why would the Republicans walk out if the votes weren’t there?

Renew Oregon

That and many other questions demand answers following this shameful episode, including what’s in store for Oregon’s democratic process if these obstructionist tactics—already deployed by Republicans to win concessions for not blocking a school funding package—continue to bear fruit.

What’s clear, however, is that while those Republicans may choose to run and hide, there’s no escaping the rising tide of Oregonians demanding bold climate solutions. Governor Brown affirmed in a press conference after session that she isn’t backing down, and neither is the broad and diverse coalition that came together to support HB 2020. Either through a special session or executive action, the window to hold climate polluters accountable is still open. Let’s make sure Governor Brown knows we have her back in not letting it shut.

About the Authors

Alex Jackson

Senior Attorney, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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