SALEM, Oregon – Monday is the fifth day of the walkout by Republican senators at the Oregon State Capitol. The GOP lawmakers were a no-show again when President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) banged the gavel for a Sunday session.
The senators are denying the Democratic supermajority a quorum to block a vote on House Bill 2020, which is commonly referred to as the cap and invest bill. It deals with reducing carbon emissions dramatically. Republicans and a few moderate Democrats say the measure will cause gasoline and natural gas prices to skyrocket but will not make an appreciable difference in the fight to cool global warming.
Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) has told KUMA News that he and his peers are ready to stay out until the session is legally required to end on June 30. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan hopes they reach an agreement and come back in time to vote on House Bill 2449, which would increase the 75-cent per telephone 911 tax, which has not increased since it was first levied in 1991. The revamped version that passed the House of Representatives is smaller than the original proposal that would have seen the tax double.
“Under the bill, it’s going up 25 cents this year and then an additional 25 cents next year,” Rowan said. “It will help. I‘m not ever going to turn money down.”
Rowan said that if the measure passes, it would decrease the amount of money cities like Pendleton and Hermiston pay to use emergency dispatch. However, the change in the tax means it won’t be as big a relief as he originally expected.
“That (the doubled tax) would have really helped offset some of those other costs that are coming from various general funds, either from the county or community partners,” Rowan said.
There are only two communities that do not subscribe to Umatilla County Dispatch. They are Milton-Freewater and the Umatilla Tribal police and fire departments.
The bill, which is designed to help emergency services keep pace with rapidly changing technology, was introduced by Rep. Lynn Findley (R-Ontario). In the House of Representatives, Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) voted in favor of it while Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove) voted against it.