Eleven Republican senators have continued their walkout protest that is in its eight-consecutive day. Meanwhile, hundreds of loggers, farmers and ranchers assembled on the Capital steps on June 27. They were protesting a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill and showing their support for the missing Republican senators.
It was one of the biggest rallies of the 2019 legislative session. There were flags, signs and songs, along with a continuous flow of semi-trucks, pickups and farm equipment that surrounded the Capital for several hours.
Traffic blocked many streets as several large rigs from throughout the state showed up during the morning commute.
Inside the capital, 18 Democrats met once again for a floor session, not expecting their Republican colleagues to arrive.
The Democrats have the supermajority, with 18 members, but they must have two Republican senators in order to reach a quorum of 20. A two-thirds quorum is necessary to do any business.
Even if the Senate acquires enough members before adornment on June 30, they will still have to come up with a solution about House Bill 2020, the greenhouse gas emissions bill. This is true regardless of what Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said on Tuesday. He said that the bill lacked the votes to pass the Senate, and “that will not change,” as reported by the Statesman Journal.
Nevertheless, because of where HB 2020 is in the legislative process, it is essential that the Senate has an up-or-down vote on the bill. It’s either that or have a vote to send it back to committee.
Republicans want it to be guaranteed that the bill really doesn’t have the votes to pass. Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, trusts Courtney, according to legislative staff, but there is prevalent suspicion in his caucus of Democrats, now that the end of the contentious session is nearing.
Not all Democrats in the caucus are agreed on how they want to continue. Some have declared that they are not letting go of HB 2020, causing anxiety among Republicans.
Citizens from across Oregon rallied in support of the Republican senators. Some of them trekked nearly three hours Thursday morning. They stood in the rain, some wearing hard hats or holding American flags. Almost all of them had signs with phrases on them such as “rural lives matter,” “make Oregon ours again” and “they walked for me,” referencing the Senate Republicans.
Hunter Nash said that he came to Salem because, as a 6th-generation logger, he believes HB 2020 would wipe out his livelihood. Every one of his vehicles run on diesel.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the Oregon Eleven,” Nash told the Statesman Journal, referring to the absent Republican senators. “They are definitely representing me and all of the people here.”
Speakers spoke to the crowd, saying that HB 2020 would not help alleviate climate change at all, and that it would take away their jobs. Those that promote the bill admit that by itself it would have an insignificant impact on global carbon emissions.
“Those of us who make a living from the land are the best environmental stewards there are,” Marie Bowers, a 5th-generation farmer, said. She got a loud response from the crowd. “Those who work outside are more in touch with the climate that those who legislate the climate.”
Many House Republicans said that after trying and failing to amend the bill to support rural Oregonians, they were pleased that Republican senators took action to stop it.
After six hours of debate on the floor on June 17, the HB 2020 bill passed the House of Representatives. The bill has acquired more than 120 suggested amendments.
“Both chambers fought this in different ways,” House Republican Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, said during the rally. “There are people who have a greatly different vision of how Oregon should look. Their vision would take away your jobs. It already has and it will.”
If the Republican senators fail to return, about 125 budget and policy bills will die after June 30.
Negotiations to convince the Republicans to return to the capital are still in progress between Baertschiger, Courtney and Gov. Kate Brown.
Read the full story here.
Hunter Nash sits in front of the Oregon State Capital.
A bi-partisan bill has been reincarnated by lawmakers that would make adoption more affordable for families throughout the country.
The bill would revive the refundable portion of the present adoption tax credit, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced in a press release on June 10.
“Over 100,000 children are waiting for adoption into a family who can give them the loving home they deserve,” Blunt said, as reported by Fox 12 Oregon. “I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort to make adoption a more viable option for parents who are eager to welcome a child into their home.”
Blunt combined his efforts with Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to compose the legislation, dubbed the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2019.
“My family knows firsthand the joys and blessings adoption brings,” Inhofe said. “But adoption is not without its difficulties and, too often, can be a costly process. Making the adoption tax credit fully refundable will ease that financial burden so more families can choose to adopt and welcome children into their homes.”
Almost one-third of all adopted children reside with families that have an annual income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level, according to Blunt, who cited the Department of Health. He reasoned that several of these families’ income taxes are so low that they don’t benefit from the adoption tax credit in any form. It only assists them if it is refundable.
“It is a common misconception that only wealthy families adopt,” Casey added. “We must do all we can do to ensure that all children are afforded the opportunity to grow up in a permanent, loving home.”
Previous versions of the legislation were brought up in 2013, 2015 and 2017. The bill is supported by the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group Executive Committee, which includes 150 organizations.
Read Fox 12 Oregon’s article here.
James Inhofe worked together with Senators Roy Blunt and Bob Casey to re-introduce the adoption bill.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, broke the status quo on May 30 by signing a bill that would protect the unborn when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it [the bill] to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone,” Edwards said on Twitter, as reported by Fox News.
The proposed law defending the unborn applies to pregnancies as early as six weeks. The legislature includes exceptions for only circumstances that are “medically futile” such as when the health of the mother is at risk. Babies that result from rape or incest are protected under this law.
The signing of this law makes Louisiana the fifth state to pass a fetal heartbeat bill, preceded by Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio. You can read about the heartbeat bill passed in Georgia here.
The bills that have been passed in these states challenge the constitutional right to an abortion that was given by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973.
Gov. Ivey of Alabama signed a bill on May 15 that would make carrying out abortions, at any stage of pregnancy, a felony crime that could even lead to imprisonment for life. Ivey’s bill has no exceptions except for health risks to the mother.
The bill signed by Edwards would make doctors and medical providers, who conduct abortions in Louisiana, liable to up to two years in prison and cause them to lose their medical license.
Many of the bills passed in various states have been challenged in court and deemed unconstitutional. State lawmakers aim to cause controversy that will lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
To read more about this story, click here.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a pro-life bill on May 24 that protects babies in the womb after eight weeks of pregnancy.
“By signing this bill today, we are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn,” Parson said in a statement, as reported by U.S. News. “All life has value and is worth protecting.”
Earlier in May, Parson signed House Bill 126, the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” after it passed the state Senate and the House. Several similar bills have been passed recently that protect unborn babies after a heartbeat is detected, such as in Alabama and Georgia.
This Missouri bill protects the unborn after eight weeks of pregnancy, allowing exceptions for medical emergencies, such as averting the death or permanent physical impairment of the pregnant woman.
Like the law passed in Alabama, Missouri’s bill also protects babies conceived from rape or incest. Anybody who performs or induces an abortion will be considered guilty of a class B felony and could face five to 15 years in prison.
The bill also protects unborn children that have a diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome. In addition, unborn babies would be protected from abortion if their parent does not approve of their sex.
The bill comes with a provision that would eradicate abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Missouri is the eighth state to pass a “heartbeat” law regarding abortion in 2019, as reported by Jurist.
To read U.S. News’s story on this topic click here.
To read the Jurist’s story on this topic click here.
One of the most protective abortion laws in the nation has been signed by Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia. The outcome of this law is the legal protection of babies after six weeks gestation, the stage when doctors can normally detect a heartbeat. There are a few exceptions, which include preventing death or major harm to the woman and in situations of rape or incest, after a police report has been filed.
Like three other states that have enacted similar laws, it is expected Georgia’s law will come up against an immediate legal challenge. Supporters hope that this law will begin a re-evaluation of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade was the landmark 1973 decision that overrode state abortion laws and made abortion legal all nine months of pregnancy.
In a signing ceremony at the State Capitol, Kemp, a Republican, said that his administration is prepared for a court fight.
“Our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” he said, as reported by The New York Times. “We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down.”
This Georgia legislation is just one of the latest developments in a wide-ranging battle over abortion that has taken place this year. State legislators headed by Republicans in the Midwest and the South have taken the lead. Conservative lawmakers have seen the recent changes in the Supreme Court as an opportunity to get overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This is a historic day for Georgia,” Catherine Davis, a pro-life rights activist said, as reported by The New York Times. “This is a day that many of us who have been in the pro-life fight for years and years and years didn’t really think it would be possible, in light of the politics of the issue,” Davis said at Kemp’s signing ceremony.
Read more about this story here.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed a controversial abortion bill on May 15 that may have the ability to penalize doctors who conduct abortions with life in prison.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement, as reported by CNN. “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
The bill was approved 24-6 by the Alabama Senate on Tuesday, May 14. The law’s only allowances include “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the child in the womb has “a lethal anomaly,” as told by CNN. Democrats attempted an amendment to exclude cases such as rape and incest victims, but the motion was not successful, with an 11-21 vote.
Ivey mentioned in her statement that this law may be difficult to enforce because of the Supreme Court’s case, Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in every American state. The intention of this new law was to challenge Roe v. Wade, Ivey said.
“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable,” Ivey wrote. “As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
Alabama is now at the forefront of passing measures to protect unborn babies. Georgia’s Gov. Kemp recently signed a pro-life protection bill, you can read about it here.
Read more about this story here.