Quiet start to legislative session, but tensions simmer just below surface

Cap and trade architect Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, explains how he’s attempted to craft his bill to overcome Republican opposition (Sam Stites/Oregon Capitol Bureau)

SALEM — A contentious proposal to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions dominated political chatter in the weeks before the 2020 legislative session began.

So much so, that observers expected “sparks” when lawmakers convened on Monday, Feb. 3, said Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas.

But sitting in his office on the appointed day, wearing cowboy boots, jeans and his signature turtleneck under a sports jacket, Boquist said, “It seems like it’s in neutral. This building is never neutral.”

Then the longtime senator reconsidered. 

Instead, he said, it was more like the Legislature was “out of gear” or . . .