By State Representative Rob Nosse
Happy new year to all my constituents. As the new year begins, I have taken time to reflect on my involvement as a member of the Oregon Legislature and what remains to get done as my term comes to an end and I start running for re-election.
Looking back, I am proud to have voted for changes that have moved our state forward and have had a personal hand in getting many pieces of progressive legislation passed.
Over three terms, that includes passing laws requiring fair pay for women, fair workplace scheduling, one of the highest statewide minimum wages in the country, workplace harassment reforms, wage theft protections, protections for nursing mothers, access to paid sick leave, better health benefits for public workers, and the strongest paid family and medical leave law anywhere in the United States.
We have passed protections for LGBTQ Oregonians, provided funding for refugee services cut by the Trump Administration, and extended driver’s licenses for undocumented people.
Additionally, we have funded mass transit projects all over the state, expanded access to voting, and passed legislation to have the national popular vote count in presidential elections.
This year, we passed the Student Success Act to raise $1 billion per year in new corporate taxes to fund our schools, something I have been working on since 1992 when I first moved to Oregon to head up the Oregon Student Association.
Among our healthcare achievements, we have expanded Medicaid to cover over one quarter of Oregonians and every child in the state, moved us closer to a “single payer” system, protected the right to an abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned, and brought greater transparency to prescription drug pricing.
We have prohibited dredging in salmon habitat, outlawed fracking and offshore oil drilling, banned single-use plastic grocery bags, and finally started regulating diesel pollution.
There is one area of environmental stewardship where Oregon has repeatedly come up short: we have not enacted significant legislation to regulate greenhouse gases.
This year, we came closer than ever to passing a bill that would finally do something about carbon pollution. HB 2020 was one of the most aggressive pieces of climate legislation in history. It passed in the Oregon House but fell one vote shy in the Senate.
I am honestly torn between wanting a “perfect” bill and realizing that we may come up empty-handed again if we can’t get a bill through our State Senate.
I want the strongest bill possible. We need the strongest bill possible and so I want us to pass something that can serve as a framework we can add to in the future. Passing something like HB 2020 will get us started and moving down the road to controlling our state’s carbon output and pivoting to a “green,” carbon-neutral economy.
Detractors say that Oregon has such a small population relative to that of the world that our efforts will amount to very little in the grand scheme of things.
I wholeheartedly disagree and believe that is just another excuse to cause delay. What we do in Oregon can show the world that responsible stewardship of our air, soil, and water does not lead to economic decline. In fact, investing in our future with an Oregon version of the Green New Deal will revitalize communities all over our state.
Today’s children are part of a generation that will face daily hardships due to climate devastation we cannot even imagine. With that in mind, I return to Salem in February with a renewed sense of purpose: to pass legislation that helps us avoid the worst projections of what climate change may bring.
This is too big of a project to be left to elected officials. Climate change will affect all of us. We all need to be involved in fighting it.
The most helpful thing you can do is call your friends and family in other parts of Oregon and urge them to reach out to their State Senator to demand they take climate action now.
In the new year, let’s work together to bring this across the finish line. Our children are counting on us.