After being deeply upset with how Democrats and Republicans behaved in the walkout of GOP members of the state Senate over HB 2020, a cap and trade climate bill, it's great to find some bright spots in this saga -- Governor Kate Brown and Aubrey Wieber, a Salem Reporter journalist.
Governor Kate Brown has earned back my admiration after she responded to the first May walkout of Republican senators by agreeing to kill two bills that were opposed by the GOP, being Democratic priorities (a pro-vaccine bill and a gun control bill).
I thought this bad move would encourage Republicans to test Democratic resolve later in the legislative session. But I figured such would happen in the House, not the Senate, since GOP members of the Senate had agreed not to walk out again for the rest of the session.
Pleasingly, it appears that Brown didn't give up anything of importance in the second walkout. After ordering the Oregon State Police to find the Republican senators who had deserted their posts, they came back on their own and played nice, mostly, during a rush to vote on over a hundred backed-up bills last weekend.
Brown inspired the crowd at a pro-climate bill rally last Tuesday in her brief but passionate remarks, even though Senate President Courtney had declared HB 2020 dead earlier in the day given lackluster support among Senate Democrats.
So there's a good chance the walkout of Senate Republicans had no effect on the passage of HB 2020, given that at least three Senate Democrats were either strong No's or leaning that way prior to the walkout.
Today Governor Brown made a strong statement in favor of pursuing the carbon pollution reduction goals of HB 2020, either through executive action or reintroduction of the climate bill. Here's the first part of a Salem Reporter story by Aubrey Wieber, "Governor threatens to do by rule what she couldn't by legislation."
Less than 24 hours after the 2019 Legislature closed, Gov. Kate Brown renewed the fight for a cap and trade program, saying Monday she might act with her executive authority to drive ahead with the hotly contested environmental policy.
“Let me be very, very clear,” Brown said. “I am not backing down.”
She spoke on the heels of a major political collapse last week, when Senate Republicans doomed a vote on House Bill 2020. The legislation, setting up a market-based credit system to force polluting industries to reform, had passed the House and was one vote away in the Democratically controlled Senate from becoming state law.
Brown wasn’t taking her most significant legislative loss lightly.
Brown said she wants to see action sooner than later, and is open to calling a special session to again advance the legislation.
“I believe the bill needs some fine-tuning, but I don’t think it needs to be entirely rebuilt,” she said.
Brown said she campaigned on cap and trade, as did many Democratic legislators elected in November. Recent polling shows climate legislation is popular among Oregonians, though more so in urban areas. Her plan was backed by most Oregon voters, she said.
Excellent. Very heartening. Makes me hopeful that Oregon will be a leader in fighting global warming.
It's great that Brown and Democratic leaders in the state legislature, with the notable exception of increasingly useless Senate President Courtney, are standing firm against Republican efforts to declare HB 2020 dead and gone forever, which, clearly, it isn't.
I followed news about the walkout of Republican senators, and what happened after they returned, with rapt attention.
Journalists with the Oregonian, Statesman Journal, and Willamette Week all did very good reporting. But I consider that Aubrey Wieber and his colleagues at the online-only Salem Reporter stood out from the journalistic pack.
Political junkie that I am, Wieber's frequent tweets on Twitter were highly appreciated, especially during the drama in the Senate last Saturday and Sunday. On Twitter I also follow reporters from the newspapers I just mentioned.
Wieber blew them away with his cogent, informative, and grammatically correct tweets. (Yeah, I'm old fashioned. I like complete sentences and accurate spelling in tweets.) I had the feeling that I was looking over the shoulder of a skilled reporter as he observed the machinations in the state Senate, telling his Twitter followers what was going on.
I realize that many people consider Twitter to be an annoying echo chamber of little value. However, it also can be the best means of conveying breaking news, which Wieber masterfully did. As far as I could tell, he was on duty at the legislature for very long hours over the weekend.
Hopefully Wieber will get a vacation soon, because he deserves one. For not only did he excel on Twitter, his "long form" stories in Salem Reporter were marvelously written as well.