Legislature: Governor signs minimum wage law, anti-coal bill passes Senate

Oregon’s legislation hit two landmarks this session. Governor Kate Brown signed off on the minimum wage hike; Senate passed the anti-coal bill.

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The minimum-wage law makes Oregon the first state to order higher pay in cities than rural regions.

Speaking to reporters in her ceremonial office at the Capitol, Brown said the bill is a well-crafted compromise between labor groups and businesses that demonstrates Oregon’s wise culture of governing.

“I am extremely proud of the collaborative spirit of the stakeholder groups that worked to develop this legislation,” Brown said.”Oregon has not only avoided a number of potentially problematic ballot measures, we have taken a very smart approach in a way that makes sense for workers and for businesses no matter where in Oregon they are.”

The bill gives Oregon the highest statewide minimum wage rates in the nation, to $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Critics say the law’s pace is too slow to make a significant impact.

“It is too low, and it is too slow; it leaves rural workers behind at a lower wage that is really not enough,” said Justin Norton-Kertson, campaign manager for “Oregonians for $15.”

His group is undecided on whether it will continue to push for its own ballot measure, which would raise Oregon’s minimum wage statewide to $15 in three years, he said.

(READ MORE: Wall Street Journal)

Lawmakers approved the pro-climate legislation after Republicans delayed sessions with a no-show and bill reads.

The apparent breakthrough followed nearly five hours of tense talks in the Senate — where Republicans, waging political warfare over a looming renewable power measure, had once again refused to appear for a floor session.

When the dust settled, Republicans agreed to come downstairs for the hearing on Senate Bill 1547, a controversial bill to eliminate coal power by 2030. They also agreed to abandon their session-long insistence that bills be read aloud before final votes, breaking through a procedural dam that bottled up dozens of bills on issues ranging from housing to the budget to the environment.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

The bill makes Oregon “the first state to eliminate coal by legislative action, and places it among a handful of other states with renewable energy standards 50 percent or higher,” according to the Statesman Journal.

The Statesman Journal reported it’s likely Gov. Brown will sign the bill.

She said it “equips Oregon with a bold and progressive path towards the energy resource mix of the future.”

Environmentalists and clean energy groups tout the proposal as one of the strongest pieces of pro-climate legislation the U.S. has seen in years.

(READ MORE: Statesman Journal)