IF ITS FIRST public hearing was any indication, a proposal to largely eliminate dirty coal energy in Oregon by 2030 will have its share of opposition in this year's legislative session.
As lawmakers listened to Oregon environmental groups, utility watchdogs, and power companies explain why the groundbreaking agreement makes sense on January 14, several Republican legislators began taking shots at the deal.
State Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) said that the proposal was "subject to a lot of rhetorical flourishes," suggesting that a proposed increase in renewable power sources in the absence of coal would lead to "much higher ratepayer bills," despite testimony to the contrary.
Meanwhile, Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls) called the proposed increase of renewable energy sources "draconian"—the exact term the Oregonian's editorial board used days later to describe the proposal.
Democratic majorities in the Oregon House and Senate mean Republican buy-in for the deal won't necessarily be needed, but the early rhetoric is telling. DIRK VANDERHART
SPEAKING OF CONTROVERSIAL proposals, the minimum wage war is officially on in Salem. On January 14, Governor Kate Brown unveiled a plan she'd reportedly been hashing out behind closed doors for weeks.
Brown's proposal would split Oregon into two zones—the Portland region and everywhere else—which would experience separate, concurrent minimum wage hikes between 2017 and 2022. Portland's wage would shoot from $9.25 to $11.79 next year, and rise to $15.52 by 2022. The rest of the state would begin at $10.25 next year, increasing to $13.50.
The plan's got the backing of the state's Democratic leadership, but there are also naysayers. Business leaders are vowing to oppose the bill, while activists with the group 15 Now Oregon say it's too slow and doesn't do enough to help rural Oregon. DVH
HOUSING ADVOCATE Chloe Eudaly, longtime owner of Portland independent bookstore Reading Frenzy, is "getting ready" to officially announce she's running for city council.
Eudaly tells the Mercury that Portland's current lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing rents have inspired her to consider a shift from activist to politician. Though Eudaly says she's not yet ready to make it official, she's "seriously considering" filing her candidacy for Commissioner Steve Novick's seat.
The race is becoming crowded. Local architect Stuart Emmons and disability rights advocate Sue Stahl have also announced they'll run for Novick's seat. SHELBY R. KING