Our Government Is Missing In Action – What Should We Do?

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Just like all ideologies, democracy only seems to work properly in a closed or fixed cycle; it requires all parties to do their part and for the system to uphold checks and balances. This last week, the Oregon Legislature has had the opportunity to see this cycle fail and fall privy to loopholes and people who do not want to uphold the integrity of the system. 

If you haven’t heard, Oregon has been trying to pass a new bill, HB2020. In short, this bill’s aim is to reduce carbon emissions through a “cap and trade” system with the final goal of hitting a benchmark of 80% less emissions than produced in 1990. This system would place a cap of 25,000 metric tons of annual carbon emissions for the state of Oregon. 

Corporations would be required to purchase a permit for a specific allotment of metric tons/year and if they wanted to go over that allotment, they would then have to purchase a permit from a different corporation that is willing to sell what was rationed to them. The money from these permits (and possible future fines) would then be reinvested into “environmentally friendly projects, including energy efficiency projects for utilities, a fund to transition jobs that would be affected by climate change, and low-carbon transportation projects, including support for mass transit and cycling”1

This bill has had mixed reviews from both constituents and representatives. On one hand we have the argument that action needs to be taken urgently and with a strong hand because climate scientists are saying that we only have about 12 years until irreversible climate disaster occurs2. On the other side of the coin is the argument that this bill will increase gas prices and will put immense amounts of stress on our logging and trucking industries as well as our rural communities who need to travel long distances to the urban centers3. So what wins? Our future lives our our future pockets? 

Our legislative body had scheduled a vote to be held last Thursday, but unfortunately, 11 Republican senators fled the capital, refusing to vote and in effect have halted the bill. For a bill to pass the senate it must have ⅔ vote yes; this requires at least 20 representatives to be present, the same goes for a quorum to be held to send the bill back to committee or kill it. Governor Kate Brown has sent out state troopers to track these senators down and bring them back to work4 to hopefully proceed with a vote before the current legislative session ends. 

Now some might say, why don’t the senators just come back and vote “no” if they do not support the bill rather than tanking the whole thing? Well, if there is an official vote, each yay or nay is recorded in history and some of these reps do not want to be held accountable for whatever vote they put down for risk of not getting re-elected. 

It is now our job as citizens to call our local representatives and ask, urge, and plead with them to come back to the capital and vote on this important bill—whether they agree to rewrite it, pass it or kill it is dependent on what we ask our representatives to voice. If they then make the choice to not let us be heard through them, we vote them out. You can find out who your representative is and how to contact them at https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html


Sources: 

  1. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/06/oregons-massive-cap-and-trade-bill-inches-forward.html
  2. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
  3. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/06/cap-and-trade-what-could-oregons-carbon-policy-cost-you.html
  4. https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/06/20/gov-kate-brown-is-sending-the-oregon-state-police-to-look-for-senate-republicans/
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About Author

Alecya Krivolenkov

Alecya is an Oregon native and Portland State alumni. She is a cannabis, food, and sex education enthusiast. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, you can find her in the garden trying to grow something for next harvest or in front of the TV binging the latest and greatest. She aspires to write her own cookbook as well as open a multi-facility clinic for sexual trauma survivors. You can follow her cooking on instagram: @kushaipdx

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