Bill Currier, chair of the Oregon Republican Party, told Breitbart News the Beaver state’s Republican state senators used a walkout as a “last resort” against their Democrat counterparts’ attachment of an emergency clause to prevent a public referendum on House Bill 2020.
The bill is a “cap and trade” measure taxing the production of carbon dioxide emissions. He joined Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight for an interview with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak in which he defended Oregon’s State Senate Republicans’ walkout.
On Thursday, Oregon’s Democrat Governor, Kate Brown, authorized state police to find the state’s missing Republican lawmakers after they failed to show up for a vote on the aforementioned bill. If passed, the bill would tax carbon dioxide emissions. The bill’s text mandates implementation of a “carbon pricing program” to “combat climate change,” which it attributes to carbon dioxide emissions.
Oregon’s Democrats are “trying to bring the Republicans back to have that quorum so that they can basically control the outcome of something that has widespread dissent and opposition” across the state, said Currier.
House Bill 2020 would “basically ensure the devastation of Oregon’s economy,” added Currier, “which has already been attacked repeatedly with these bills to tax and regulate Oregon businesses into oblivion.”
Currier explained Oregon’s current Senate composition. “We have 30 members in the Senate,” he said. “Twelve are Republican, and we have one vacant seat at the moment. Eleven Senate Republicans did walk out after about ten hours of negotiation, and basically what they were asking for was for the Democrats to stop using what they call the emergency clause on all of their bills.”
“Just about every bill that’s been put forward has had an emergency clause attached to it which is supposed to be used — imagine this — in an emergency,” added Currier. “What the effect of that is, it denies the people having a vote on it because it prevents a referral to the voters. By putting that emergency clause on there, they’re essentially preventing the voters from voting on issues that they don’t want the voters to overturn.”
Currier continued, “We’ve had such massive state-wide protests and pushback against cap and trade here in Oregon … at town halls that the Democrats tried to sell out in the rural areas.” Rural areas, he stated, “are most negatively affected by this cap and trade because it puts the burden on them … in terms of fuel costs that aren’t borne by the urban areas, supposedly to achieve some sort of environmental benefit.”
“It’s really a ponzi scheme — government-sponsored — that installs an energy czar, if you will, in Oregon, who has almost unregulated authority to regulate businesses,” determined Currier. “Ultimately that’s just going to benefit a few people, some of the cronies, and it’s not going to help Oregonians. It’s going to raise the average cost [of living] for the average Oregonian by over a thousand dollars a year, not to mention the effect on folks that use a lot of fuel like truckers and loggers and others here in Oregon who are already hanging on by a thread because of these taxes and regulations.”
“The negotiation centered on one request — I guess you could call it a demand if you wanted to, because it was a negotiating point — and that was to stop using fake emergencies,” said Currier. “What it boils down to is, who’s representing Oregonians best: Those who are passing laws that hurt them, or those that are standing up [against] something they oppose, which is this cap and trade bill? This is the tool that’s available to the minority, and it’s been used in other states. It’s been used by Democrats in Oregon. In fact, our own Governor Kate Brown used it in 2001. She advocated for it on behalf of Democrats.”
“What [Oregon’s State Senate Republicans] are doing is not unlawful, and it’s the only tool they have to protect the voters [and] protect the constitutional rights of the voters,” estimated Currier, noting how attachment of emergency clauses to bills prevents them from being put to to voters via referendum. “People can have a voice” via referendum if emergency clauses are removed from proposed legislation, he said, adding, “[Democrats] refused to do that. They refused to let it go before the people.”
“Who’s really standing up for Oregonians?” asked Currier. “The Democrats who are pushing legislation that significantly hurts most Oregonians or Republicans who are standing up and saying, ‘Look, this is a tool available to us to stop this from going through’ Republicans are standing up for the will and the voice of the voter.”
Pollak asked, “Why not take this to the voters and say, ‘Look what Democrats are doing. This cap and trade bill is terrible. The other policies they’re enacting are damaging and contrary to the commitments they made to the people. You need to vote these people out. It’s the only language these people understand. You have to vote the Republicans in so we can undo this damaging cap and trade system.’? Why is that not an option? Why not go to the voters next year and say it’s time to fix this mistake?”
Currier replied, “Republican senators are putting everything on the line. This is significant personal risk for them, not just political risk. In their own districts, their constituents are going to say, ‘Why did you walk out?’ This is a huge risk on their part in order to stand up for the voters, and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ If you want to think of it as peaceful civil resistance, you can. Nothing they’re doing in unlawful. It’s the only tool they have left.”
Pollak remarked, “That’s the way we do it. We have an opposition that expresses the view of those who are on the losing side this time, but you can continue. We’re not going to like everything the majority wants to do, but we can’t kick the chess board over and quit the game. … You’re rejecting the rules of the game. … I understand there’s a place for civil disobedience but this is a bad law. it is not an illegitimate law. And if you think it’s illegitimate, why not take it to court? Can you appeal to the judiciary?”
Pollack went on, “I don’t understand the gesture of leaving the legislature. … What I’m arguing is the rules of representative democracy. We have to go along sometimes and participate in a debate we’re going to lose. If we expect that from the other side when we’re governing, why don’t we return that? I sometimes understand that turnabout is fair play, but in this case, this seems pretty fundamental to me.”
Pollak continued, “Don’t Oregon voters have the right to have a legislature that meets when it’s physically capable of meeting, and not to have the proceedings of that legislature disrupted because one party seeks to use that disruption as a political lever? I think that at some point you accept the rules of the game, and it’s about the rights of the voters to elect and be served by the government they choose. … The integrity of the system is something that’s really important. We don’t give up on democracy because we lose.”
Currier responded, “The voters can choose to vote the Republicans out, or not. The consequences are the same for both sides. [Oregon’s State Senate Republicans] taking that risk, right now, and I’m betting everything that I’m worth that the voters are going to support Republicans, and we’re going to gain back seats because they stood up for the people who were not allowed to vote on these things because of these emergency clauses.”
“The goal was — and I think still is — to bring [Oregon’s Democrat state senators] back to the table,” concluded Currier.
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