ONTARIO — State Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, and Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, held their final Legislative Hotline for 2019 session of the Oregon Legislature, which they hope will wrap up soon, as some major issues are still to be decided.

The video sessions have been held by the pair from Salem with people meeting in Extension Offices around their Legislative Districts.

One of those is House Bill 2020, the carbon reduction bill, which the two lawmakers predict will add at least 16 cents to a gallon of vehicle fuel starting in 2020. It will also include ongoing increases over the next 30 years through the cap and trade program which puts a price on carbon emissions.

One of the flaws in the bill, Bentz said, is that there is nothing to help people or companies transition to vehicles that use less fuel or use alternative forms of energy, which is the purpose of the legislation in making it more expensive to operate carbon-emitting vehicles.

“We don’t have the votes to stop this bill,” Bentz said, referring to the Republican minority status, adding that the bill is now in the Ways and Means Committee where it will be up for some votes. The bill does exempt fuel used in farming equipment such as tractors, and that some consideration is being given to companies with high carbon emissions, reducing their tax down if they are using the best technology. However, Bentz indicated he is not sure that would be enough to keep the businesses operating.

“The eastern edge of the state will be severely impacted,” Findley said, particularly being next door to Idaho, where business will not have those costs.

Also on tap for a vote on the House floor, Thursday, is House Bill 2449, which increases the tax on phones to support emergency communications (911 centers), which Findley is the lead sponsor.

Another bill up for a House vote is Senate Bill 320, which puts most of Oregon on Daylight Savings time permanently, ending the spring and fall time changes. The bill leaves Malheur County as is, since it is tied to Idaho.

Because most local TV stations in Malheur County are tied to localities in Idaho, Findley noted that county residents do not get any Oregon or Portland news via that route.

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Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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