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Walkout was a legitimate response to bullying

I am asked continually about the Republican walkout in Salem and thought I would share my opinion followed by recommendations.

It is a shame when your last option is to walk out, however it is an option that has been used in the past by Democrats, including those still in office. This includes our governor and is a tool that is part of the state’s Constitution.

Bullying comes in many forms, this time in a partisan bill called cap and trade. When the majority party stops listening and attempts to impose its will on the minority, it usually doesn’t end well. Life is a lot easier if we all work together for mutual benefit and respect all opinions.

If you look at the map of counties that opposed the current bill it is quite shocking, kind of rural-versus-metro with the first vastly larger in acres and the latter with way more population.

So how do we bridge the gap? Some years ago we voted to have short legislative sessions in even years (I voted no). it was for fixing problems mid-budget. It was not for normal bills that come in the long session with time for public transparency.

The short session has now turned into many bills creating a nightmare for staff, lobbyists, elected officials and especially the public. Perhaps we should ask the voters if it should continue? We still have the Legislative Emergency Board that has the power to do fixes, greatly reducing the stress and inconvenience of staff to implement the over 800 bills passed every other year.

Now to cap and trade. Notice the name? Even though it increases revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars, it is not considered a tax. This means that, even with a supermajority, Democrats do not have the votes to pass it. I do not know anyone who would not consider this a tax. We instead call it tax credits that bypass the normal budgeting process and give benefits to high-income earners at the expense of all taxpayers, not to mention Wall Street.

The process is to have firms that have a low carbon footprint sell their “credits” to businesses that create too much carbon. This is done through a complicated auction process manipulated by large money managers. Oregon has a very poor track record of managing similar auctions in the past, costing millions of dollars to our residents and criminal lawsuits for fraud. The cap and tax, as it should be called, should be simplified and start small to allow government agencies the time to implement this massive change in culture.

Solutions are: The party in power could have (once again) pulled the bill or sent it to the voters. Then the minority party would have returned. The current majority believes that the bill is too confusing for the voters to understand, and I agree. This is exactly why it is not ready to be passed and we need to simplify it.

Threats, mistruths and pressing the issue just add fuel to the flames and usually don’t work out well in the end. I hope this explains why a party felt a need to walk out to protect the public from a badly written bill.

Alan DeBoer of Ashland is a former Republican state senator representing District 3. He can be reached at awdb@aol.com.

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