Because the Session is highly focused around cap and trade, and the movement of the bill has triggered many reactions, the story that follows includes the best recap Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) can provide in a timeline on process and politics, surrounding the Session.


Because the Session is moving at a rapid pace, the outcome and details of this story are likely to change quickly.

Monday, February 24

Joint Ways and Means Committee: 9:00 a.m.

The full committee on ways and means convened, with Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) presiding.

With 12 Senate members (seven Democrats, five Republicans) on the committee, and Johnson vocally opposed to the bill, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) joined the committee as a guest, in accordance with Senate rules to split the six-six tie. Without President Courtney’s presence, Johnson’s position would have kept the bill from advancing to the floor.

Questions arose in committee on whether President Courtney was able to vote as a guest member without replacing a member. Secretary of the Senate, Lori Brocker was called to address the issue, and clarified the practice had been used throughout previous sessions and was in accordance with the rules.

Several motions were made on SB 1530, the only bill on the committee’s agenda. The first motion was made by Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) to adopt the subcommittee recommendation on SB 1530.

During discussion, Representative Greg Smith (R-Heppner) moved the -A60 amendment, which would create an alternative carbon reduction plan. The motion failed.

The next motion was made by Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg). He moved the -A63 amendment, which would remove public records exemptions covered in the bill. The motion failed.

The final motion before vote on Holvey’s motion was for adoption of the -A42 amendment made by Representative Denyc Boles (R-Salem). The amendment refers the cap and trade bill to the voters.

Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) commented on the amendment, “this is probably the most important motion of the minority party, and that is that we trust the voters to come up with the decision. We’ve heard how complex this is.” He concluded his commentary indicating what it would take to stop the walkout, “if this was to go in the bill, we definitely would stick around.” The motion failed.

The subcommittee recommendation passed 13-9. The bill currently sits at the president’s desk awaiting disposition.

Senate Republican Response Released: 10:28 am

Shortly after the actions of the ways and means committee, Senate Republican Leader, Herman Baertschiger (R-Grants Pass) released the following statement:

“Senator Courtney’s actions leave no other option for Senate Republicans but to boycott and deny quorum because cap and trade is on the way to the Senate floor. Democrats refused to work with Republicans and denied every amendment that was presented. Pay attention Oregon – this is a true example of partisan politics. Instead of referring this legislation to let the people decide, the Democrats are willfully ignoring 26 counties and one district, representing nearly 2 million Oregonians that have signed proclamations against cap and trade, to push their agenda.”

Senate Floor: 11:00 a.m.

After nearly 10 minutes of no quorum, Senator Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), joined by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie), and Senator Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) demanded a call of the Senate. 

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) then requested the Secretary of the Senate to “direct the Sergeant at Arms to go up, and check each desk of the members that aren’t here, to see if they’re here or not.”

The Oregon Constitution requires a quorum of 20 members of the Senate be present to proceed with the business on the calendar. Nineteen members were present at the time of the call.

The Sergeant of Arms was unable to locate any absent Senators. Before adjourning, President Courtney called for senators to engage in the process and commenting on the state of the session and cap and trade legislation, “there are more than enough votes on this floor to pass it [SB1530].” He further commented, “I really hope that we remain open; we remain civil. I hope most importantly, we remember, we could have an incredible session with remaining days, with budgets and policy. I mean it. But I need your help my fellow senators, I need your help.”

In a statement, Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), the lone Republican to attend the floor session said, “my Senate district has been very clear that they want me to be at the Capitol and oppose the cap and trade bill, and that’s what I’m doing. The people of Oregon should get a vote on the cap and trade bill.” 

House Floor: 11:00 a.m.

After the ways and means meeting,  the House floor session was delayed for one hour. House Republicans attended the full session. Business was conducted as usual.

Governor Brown Hold Press Conference: Following Floor Sessions

In a press conference, Governor Kate Brown (D-Portland) remarked on the her engagement with Oregonians to make modifications between the 2019 and 2020 cap and trade bill, citing changes for industry and exemptions from cost increase to rural drivers, “this work is now in jeopardy, along with other critical priorities to help Oregonians thrive, from critical flood relief funding to wildfire season preparation, because Senate Republican lawmakers have chosen to walk off the job. We were elected by voters to represent our communities, and to be the voice of our constituents in the Capitol. Republicans signed up for this. If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it, or show up and vote ‘no’.”

House Committee on Rules Releases New Legislative Concepts: 4:00 p.m.

The House committee on rules added six new legislative concepts to their agenda, all bills were introduced at the request of House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland). After a quick overview of the measures, the committee recessed and reconvened. Chair Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) carried the work session on bill introduction over to the next meeting, February 25. The concepts included:

  • LC 312, a referral to the voters to modify standards set in Cleaner Air Oregon legislation passed in the 2018 Legislative Session.
  • LC 313, a referral to the voters to mandate 100 percent of electricity sold in this state to retail electricity consumers in calendar year 2045 and subsequent calendar years to be electricity generated utilizing eligible renewable and carbon-free energy resources. The concept requires electric utilities to invest in beneficial electrification programs, and imposes labor standards for certain clean energy construction projects. 
  • LC 314, a referral to the voters to increase greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and direct the Environmental Quality Commission to create statewide carbon limits and create a regulatory program for emissions reduction. The concept directs the Department of Environmental Quality to implement and enforce rules of the program. 
  • LC 315, a concept to create a joint legislative committee to write a ballot title and explanatory statement for measures referred to people for approval or rejection- LC 312, LC 313, LC 314, and LC 317.
  • LC 316, a referral to the voters to amend the Oregon Constitution authorizing the Legislative Assembly to use 50 percent of gas tax any purposes provided by law. 
  • LC 317, a concept that increases greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and directs the Environmental Quality Commission to create statewide carbon limits and create a regulatory program for emissions reduction.

Tuesday, February 25

Committees Begin: 8:00 a.m.

Committees began at 8:00 a.m., and no House Republicans attend.

House Republican Statement Released: 8:51 a.m.

In response to the process, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement:

“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. I had remained optimistic up until yesterday that a compromise could be reached. Unfortunately, our attempts to achieve a bipartisan consensus that would take into account the views of all Oregonians were denied. 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.” 

House Committee on Rules Convenes to Introduce Six New Measures: 9:30 a.m.

The House committee on rules held a special meeting for the purpose of introducing committee measures. The committee received the same presentation as received the day prior. The committee voted to introduce the bills en bloc. Only Democrat members of the committee were present, unanimously voting to introduce the bills as committee bills.

House Speaker Statement Released:

In response to the House Republican walkout, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) released the following statement:

“I have 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.” 

Senate Floor: 11:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The Senate adjourns.

House Floor: 11:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The House adjourns.

Final Deadline Passes: 11:59 p.m.

Because the majority holds more positions on each committee, committees were still able to convene and move bills without both parties present. Out of the 283 total bills introduced during the Session, 143 remain in open committees. Only six pieces of legislation have passed both chambers to date.

Wednesday, February 26

Senate Floor: 11:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The Senate adjourns.

House Floor: 11:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The House adjourns.

Thursday, February 27

Senate Floor: 11:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The Senate adjourns.

House Floor: 10:00 a.m.

A quorum is not present. The House adjourns.

What Happens Now?

The Legislature is still able to and is convening floor sessions.  Most policy committees, however, are closed. The only open committees at this time are House revenue, Senate finance and revenue, House rules, Senate rules, and joint committees. Bills are being moved through those committees to the respective chambers.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate