State Sen. Betsy Johnson threw a last-minute bomb into Oregon’s proposed carbon cap-and-trade policy last week, sponsoring a 19-page list of amendments that would eviscerate one of her fellow Democratic leaders’ highest-priority bills.
What remains to be seen is what kind of payload it carries to undermine the vote count on the bill, achieve some significant changes, or to run out the clock in a session expected to end in two weeks.
Johnson, a Scappoose Democrat who’s co-chair of the Legislature’s key budget writing committee, introduced her kitchen-sink collection of industry grievances a day and a half before the bill was scheduled for a work session and possible vote in the joint Ways and Means.
And it set off a flurry of lobbying in Salem as environmental groups sought to protect their prize bill from further weakening after years of pushing the legislation to the point of actually getting a floor vote.
A work session on the bill was pulled from Friday’s Ways and Means hearing.
A coalition of industry groups representing truckers, loggers, manufacturers, farmers and others developed the amendments. Now they are putting a full-court press on legislators to consider them before a committee vote takes place. In a letter to legislators, they said they’d raised concerns countless times in committee and in meetings with legislators and made a good faith effort to help shape the program, to no avail.
They said the amendments would retain the structure of House Bill 2020 but “blunt some of the harshest impacts” that regulated industries and consumers would see under the current version of the bill.
Those groups also have asked Oregon’s largest business group, Oregon Business & Industry, to support the amendments. OBI sent an email to members of its energy and environment steering committee Friday evening seeking feedback before discussion of the issues at the group’s board meeting on Tuesday.