2020 Legislative Session Wrap-Up
Despite being only a handful of months ago, the 2020 Legislative Session already feels like the distant past. OEC came into the “short” session confident that 2020 would be the year for climate action.
After the 2019 session came to a dramatic close, the Renew Oregon coalition, (OEC is a steering committee member), got back to work putting together climate policy in collaboration with the Governor’s office and the environmental leaders in the legislature.
We started the 2020 session with a full agenda of policy goals. In addition to climate, we advanced work on water quality and quantity, including increased well water testing. We also supported our state agencies as they work to improve data and management and facilitate regional groundwater solutions, as basins adapt to changing precipitation patterns. Over the last year we also engaged in the Governor’s 100-year water vision planning process, and continue to be vocal advocates for natural infrastructure solutions, which can reduce costs, improve flood control, and provide critical wildlife habitat.
We continued to advocate for expanding the electrification of our transportation system. We worked collaboratively with the electric utility companies, Forth, many non-profit partners, and consumer advocates on a suite of bills and policies to expand investment in the EV charging infrastructure, improve access to the Oregon Public Utility Commission process, and make new construction “EV ready”, so buildings have the back-end power capacity for charging infrastructure. This is important to us because the transportation sector produces close to 40% of our net climate pollution. By improving access to EVs we improve air quality, reduce climate pollution, and reduce costs for consumers.
As we did in 2019, we mobilized supporters from across the state to come to the Capitol, testify in committee hearings, meet with legislators, and show their support for climate action and the other critical parts of our agenda. It was a moving and impressive demonstration of Oregonians’ commitment to being a force for good.
The 2020 session ended faster than expected, with two walkouts and a fully stalled legislative process. While frustrating and disappointing, we are thrilled that Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-04, the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP), which will help move the state forward in pursuit of our climate goals.
Looking ahead, we are engaging substantively in the implementation of the Oregon Climate Action Plan, and are putting together our policy agenda for the 2021 session. This will include much of the work left over from the 2020 session: safe and low carbon transportation, improving air quality, implementing regional solutions for water quality and quantity, and crafting climate policies that will be complementary to the work of OCAP.
We are mindful that the pandemic and resulting economic crisis will have a huge impact on our state budget, our state agencies, our partner organizations, and Oregonians across the state.