Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan joined colleagues in the state senate in boycotting the Legislature because of a controversial bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Drazan represents House District 39, an area that includes Estacada, Eagle Creek, Barlow, Barton, Beavercreek, Boring, Canby, Carus, Charbonneau, portions of Damascus and Happy Valley, Mulino, Redland and rural Oregon City areas. She said Senate Bill 1530, also known as Cap and Trade, will place increased costs for fuel and natural gas on Oregonians.
"It's a cost-benefit analysis. Is it worth what we gain?" Drazan asked during a phone interview with the Estacada News on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from an undisclosed location out of state.
"It raises costs people have to pay. . .The benefit has to be huge. The program isn't set up to provide the benefits."
Through the Cap and Trade bill, companies would be required to purchase carbon credits from the state, which would allow them to release emissions. Since businesses would be paying for credits, they would then need to decide if they passon that expense to consumers.
Drazan noted that Oregon has already taken steps to become more environmentally friendly.
"We have a clean fuel standard, and we've been reducing our carbon emissions for years through that," she said.
She left the state on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
"From the first day of this short session it has been clear that Governor Brown and the majority party have not had an interest in respecting the legislative process and have repeatedly refused to compromise. Each and every amendment we offered on Cap and Trade in committee has been rejected," she said in a statement.
Drazan added that she had previously hoped that compromise between the two parties could be reached.
"Unfortunately, our attempts to achieve a bipartisan consensus that would take into account the views of all Oregonians were denied," she said. "Oregon House Republicans are taking a stand, with working families, in opposing Cap and Trade and this rigged process. We will continue to keep all lines of communication open. I call on Governor Brown and the majority party to refer Cap and Trade to the people."
In a statement, Speaker of the House Tina Kotek said she had "routinely reached out to Republicans in a genuine effort to hear their ideas and compromise where we can."
"My door is always open. For now, they have chosen to walk off the job. We may disagree on policy, but one thing is for sure - we can't reach consensus if the Republicans don't show up for work," Kotek said.
Lawmakers are facing a March 8 deadline to close the 2020 session.
The shutdown was triggered by a vote in the legislative budget committee, which sent SB 1530 to the full Senate. The committee rejected the Republican plan to refer the matter to voters.
"We can't pass this through in the dark of the night at the short session. (The walkout) creates a level of sunshine on this," Drazan said. "I don't take this lightly. When teachers strike, they do it because it's the last thing there is to do. We're doing this because this is the last thing there is to do."
Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat and main sponsor of the greenhouse gas reduction bill, called the walkout "unconscionable."
"This is more than about the bill," he told the Pamplin Media Group. "This is about the state of politics and I think a certain amount of contempt for the system that's out there."
Drazan noted it was difficult to predict how long the walkout would last, but hopes "it's only as long as it has to be."
"I'm in regular contact with my Democrat colleagues. We're all still talking," she said.
Reporters Claire Withycombe, Jake Thomas and Sam Stites contributed to this article.
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