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Group of Portland-area youth seeks response from Monnes Anderson on 'no' vote

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - A dozen high schoolers gathered outside of Gresham City Hall to protest the failure of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill in Salem during the recent Oregon Legislative Session. On Friday afternoon a group of Portland high schoolers stood in front of Gresham City Hall to protest a lack of action on climate-change legislation.

The dozen youths held signs outside the main doors and along Eastman Parkway on Aug. 16 to draw attention to the Clean Energy Jobs Bill that failed during the recent Oregon Legislative Session.

It was the second week the group met in Gresham for a peaceful gathering to demand Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, address climate change issues before the end of the year.

"We want our futures to be on the list of priorities for our elected officials," said Rae Blackbird, a junior in high school. "We are the future generation, and it's up to us to build a better tomorrow."

The group wanted to pressure elected leaders to make the right choice when it comes to sustainability and being green.

"Our expectation is the clean jobs bill comes back and is dealt with earlier in the session," said Madison Daisy Hathaway.

The gathering was prompted after Monnes Anderson voted against the Clean Energy Jobs Bill that served as a divisive topic in Salem during the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session.

As most of the attention went to the 11 Republican senators and boisterous timber industry, Monnes Anderson made her own moves quietly. She told Senate President Peter Courtney she wouldn't support the cap-and-trade legislation — a yes vote supporters of the legislation were banking on.

"Boeing came to me," Monnes Anderson told the Pamplin Media Group. "People think I am easily swayed. I think I am objective and open minded about the pros and cons about important legislation."

Democrats had been pursuing the cap-and-trade program for years. Legislation for the idea failed in several sessions, but they were confident going into the recent session. House Bill 2020 went through 23 hearings and 116 amendments. On June 17, the House passed measure 36-24 after a floor debate that lasted more than six hours.

Many thought it would have an easy path through the Senate. Courtney needed 16 senators to say yes. He had 18 Democrats to work with. Two had already declared they would vote no — Sen. Betsy Johnson, Scappoose, and Arnie Roblan, Coos Bay.

But Monnes Anderson, a 73-year-old retired nurse who won a House seat in 2000 and moved to the Senate in 2004, also backed out. Her concerns were that the legislation would hurt Boeing, a major employer in Gresham who has about 1,600 employees in East Multnomah County.

"We were all disappointed when the senator changed her vote," said Rhylie Woodley, one of the youths outside of Gresham City Hall.

As part of the demonstration, the youths delivered letters to Monnes Anderson sharing their stance on climate change. They said staff inside Gresham City Hall were helpful in passing along the testimonies — though they have gotten some flak as well.

Last week, a man pulled up to harass the group as they stood outside city hall. He said they were too young, and didn't know what they were talking about when it came to the science behind climate change.

"It's frustrating because we have all been learning about the science behind this in school," Woodley said.

The group will return to Gresham City Hall Friday, Aug. 23, and will join youth from across the state in a protest in Salem on Sept. 16.

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