As of Wednesday, Feb. 19, the legislature is over half way through the 2020 short session. I’m sure you’ve read about the fireworks happening at the Capitol, including the House Republicans deciding not to prolong the day floor session into a night floor session on earlier in the week. The intention being to slow down the pace of the session, allow time to fully vet legislation, and ensure Oregonians are able to be a part of the process. Clearly, the largest point of contention is the Cap-and-Trade bills, SB 1530 (the Senate version), SB 1574 (the Governor’s version), HB 4159 (House version), and HB 4169 (Speaker Tina Kotek’s version). Earlier this session, both proponents and opponents each had rallies at the Capitol. The opposition to these bills has been astonishing. Never in my life have I seen a grass roots group come together so quickly. Truckers from all over the state circled the Capitol for a full day. Both opponents and proponents have been extremely respectful at both rallies and have done a great job sharing their passions in a respectful way. This is what the political process is all about. It is important the legislature continues to take the necessary time to ensure all voices are heard and the best possible legislation moves forward.
Not all bills have been controversial and complicated. My two bills, HB 4013 (relating to kratom) and HB 4014 (relating to land use) have both moved forward to the Senate side with unanimous support. On Feb. 20, the Senate Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing and possible work session on HB 4013, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will be having a public hearing and possible work session on HB 4014. I really hope to see both bills move forward as they are small fixes with unanimous bi-partisan support.
The rest of the session remains unknown. As of now, the House Republican caucus will continue to not suspend the House Rules, which means each bill must be read section by section (as specified in the Oregon Constitution). At any moment, it feels the tension in this building is so thin, we’re just hanging on by a thread. The great thing about this process, is every legislator is doing what they believe is best to represent their district.