Minimum Wage Increases in Effect Today in Oregon

The minimum wage in Oregon has been bumped up again as part of a bill passed by the Oregon Senate in 2016. The bill will increase Oregon’s minimum wage on July first of each year until 2022.

Central Oregon Daily’s Dalton Roth spoke with a local economist and has more on the impact of these changes.

GOP Walkout Protesting Cap and Trade Bill Continues

It’s been one week since eleven republican senators walked out of the Oregon capitol and left to the state in order to block a vote on an emissions-lowering climate proposal. Senate President Peter Courtney has assured the senators that House Bill 2020 doesn’t have enough support among democrats to pass, but the republican senators are still not convinced.

Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger said that republicans are, “sorting out” what to do next.

The legislative session technically ends on Sunday, but Governor Kate Brown has said she is prepared to call a special session next week.

Outside of the Senate loggers and truckers have been the most vocal opponents of House Bill 2020 and today, they made their voices heard loud and clear.

A long convoy of logging trucks drove outside of the capitol building as supporters on the side of the road cheered them on. There were dozens of semi trucks and pickup trucks with flags and painted messaged protesting the bill.

Opponents of the climate-action bill say that it would increase the cost of motor vehicle fuels and fear it could further limit how much logging could be done in the state.

However those that support House Bill 2020 say they want the state to take climate change seriously.

GOP Walkout Sparks Local Protests

Republican senators have been missing from the Oregon legislature for nearly a week after holding a walkout in response to House Bill 2020.

Both local democrats and republicans held rallies today in downtown Bend, each with opposite views on whether or not state senators should return to Salem to vote on the ‘Cap and Trade’ bill. The bill would require companies in the utility, transportation and industrial sectors to buy emission allowances to cover each metric ton of pollution that their operations emit.

Eleven republican senators left the state to deny democrats a quorum for a vote on the bill, but democrats say these senators were elected to represent more than a million Oregonians across the state and have a responsibility to return to the capitol to do just that.

On the other side republicans say the bill is useless and is just an excuse to raise taxes across the state. They’re also praising senate republicans for doing, what they say, “needs to be done.”

Senate President Peter Courtney did announce on the Senate floor this morning that the bill does not have enough votes to pass because not enough democrats support the bill.

Republicans could return to the capitol as early as Thursday but want confirmation that the bill will not pass before they return.

Cap and Trade Bill Passes in Salem

State representatives passed a controversial ‘Cap and Trade’ bill in Salem last night.

House bill 2020 would require companies in the utility, transportation and industrial sectors to buy emission allowances to cover each metric ton of pollution that their operations emit. The Oregon House debated the bill for six hours, as members of the trucking and logging industries sat in the gallery.

They have been the most vocal critics of the ‘cap and trade’ plan, saying it will cost thousands of jobs in their industries and pass the costs of the carbon fees onto consumers. One of the opponents of the bill, Bend’s Cheri Helt, said she believes in man-made climate change but disagrees with the steps being taken to curb emissions in this bill.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 36 to 24 and it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

If it is passed and becomes law, Oregon would become the second state in the nation, after California, to pass ‘cap and trade’ legislation.

New Management Plan for Oregon Wolves

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife commission met in Salem today to continue discussing the states wolf conservation and management plan. The plan establishes a deadline for when wolves can be killed for preying on livestock, with the overarching goal being to protect wolves while also protecting social and economic interests.

County commissioners, ranchers, and wild life experts testified and debated throughout the day and the new wolf management plan has now been approved with a six to one vote coming down right before 6 pm.

District Attorney’s Office Plans Cuts

The Deschutes County Budget Committee has agreed to give more money to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, but only enough for half the amount of staff that was originally asked for.

The six positions District Attorney John Hummel hopes to have filled by the end of the summer include two new attorney positions, administrative support positions, a victim’s rights advocate and an office manager.

However, three DA Office programs will be impacted by the new cuts, as well as a victim’s impact panel will end after the august session. Two of the biggest prosecution changes coming in July will be probation violations, which will now primarily be handled by probation officers rather than the DA’s Office, and misdemeanor driving while suspended charges, which will be handled primarily by law enforcement in traffic court.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan sat down with Hummel this afternoon and has more.