▶️ Local female leaders react to historic Kamala Harris vice presidency


A historic moment for women and people of color nationwide.

Today, Kamala Harris, became the first female and person of color, to be sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

Kerstin Arias, Central Oregon Diversity Project co-founder and black female leader, feels inspired by Wednesday’s inauguration.

“Black women. We have always either been second, we’ve either been behind, we’ve been not able to make it and to make it into something like this,” Arias said. “This is so significant.”

Arias has played a major role in local ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies and said there is still work to be done in Central Oregon.

With her three sons at her side, Arias watched Vice President Harris be sworn in.

“They say things like, ‘Hey, Mom, that looks like you,’ and that right there alone is important to me,” Arias said. “They get to see that I could be that, they could be that, and other people get to be that.”

Carol Loesche, League of Women Voters of Deschutes County president, called the moment a big one for women everywhere.

“We’re determined,” Loesche said. “It took us a long time to even get the right to vote, so we’re not done yet. There’s still more work to be done and hopefully, in my lifetime, I hope to see a woman president.”

But today, for the first time in 230 years, there is a woman with the ‘Vice President’ title in the White House.

“It’s just unimaginable,” Loesche said. “It’s just surreal.”

“We can change, we can bring difference, we can add color, and that is what this country is about,” Arias said. “Diversity and inclusivity.”

Bend Repeals Ban to Make Way for State Law

On Wednesday night Bend City Council voted to repeal the local ban on plastic bags. The ban only went in to effect on July 1st, but provided stores with a grace period until early next year. The resulting inconsistency in which stores are, and are not, abiding by the ban has caused customer confusion.

Similar bans have been passed in cities across the state, hoping to increase the use of reusable bags, or have customers pay for alternative, environmentally friendly bags.

According to the state law signed by Governor Kate Brown last month this includes recycled paper bags, reusable heavy plastic bags, or reusable fabric bags for a charge of at least five cents per bag.

The decision to repeal the ban will hopefully avoid any confusion over inconsistencies between the state and city laws, however Bend residents can expect an official state-wide ban on plastic bags to go into effect on January 1st, 2020.

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.