On February 3, 2020, the 80th Legislative Assembly convened for the constitutionally mandated 35 calendar day session. A total of 283 bills were introduced; 188 in the House and 95 in the Senate. Committees were allowed to introduce three bills while Senators were permitted to one bill and Representatives were allowed two bills. As a result, timelines were very compressed. Bills were required to move out of their first chamber's respective committees within 10 days; a majority of bills died prior to this deadline.
Once again the Democrats' cap and trade proposal took center stage demonstrating Oregon's urban/rural divide. During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Senate Republicans walked out over HB 2020's cap and trade proposal which thereby denied the Senate a quorum for nine days. Upon their return, business continued with 150 bills passing in the final two days because Republicans provided "rules suspension" allowing all bills in the queue to be vote up or down on the floor.
Ten days ago, the House and Senate Republicans jointly walked out as a result of the cap and trade bill being moved forward to a floor vote. House and Senate Democrats continued to work and move bills as far as possible through the legislative process but without the required quorum present, bills could not be voted up or down on either chamber's floor.
As a result, if a quorum was present, as of today, 48 House bills and 55 Senate bills would be eligible for a House floor vote (17 other bills are also in the queue and need rules suspension or an extra legislative calendar day or two). Only three bills have passed and been signed by the Governor: HB 4061 (increases the surcharge for cultural license plates); HB 4106 (Happy Valley/Clackamas County parks annexation legislation) and HB 4140 (student concussion public education).
Today, the House Speaker gave a rousing speech condemning the Republicans for walking out and failing to return to conduct business. She indicated that climate legislation is unfinished and the presiding officers would be asking the Governor exercise her executive order authority to enact a cap on carbon emissions and convene a special session within 30 days.
Despite the fact that House Republicans, who said they would return to vote on budget bills, homeless funding and wildfire mitigation, the Speaker adjourned the House until 11:59 pm Sunday which effectively adjourns the legislative session sine die.
The President of the Senate gave a speech that included and reiterated the messaging of the Governor’s Executive Order authority regarding carbon emissions. He adjourned the Senate until and upon the call of the Senate President (effectively adjourning the session sine die).
The State Legislature’s Emergency Board will meet on Monday, March 9, 2020 to fund Umatilla County emergency flood funding and Coronavirus funding. He was not interested in a special session based on his remarks.