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Tracking a Bill through the Oregon Legislature

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So, how do you find out if a bill has become a law or where it is in the legislative process?

With the Oregon Legislature in session now, take this opportunity to explore the Legislature’s online resources for bill-tracking. It may be more interesting than you expect!

If this sounds familiar, it is. I’ve blogged several times about the legislative process, most recently here. But the more people who learn about law-making, the more people will participate in the process and the less likely we will have problems like this:

From Powers v. Quigley (SS054925): “… This case requires us to resolve an asserted conflict between ORS 20.080(1), which governs the recovery of attorney fees in tort claims for $5,500 or less, and ORCP 54 E, which limits recovery of attorney fees after a party presents its opponent with an offer of judgment….”

or this, 2007 ORS 87.025, which reads: “Priority of perfected liens; right to sell improvements separately from land; notice to mortgagee; list of materials or supplies. (1) A lien created under ORS 87.010 (2) or (6) and perfected under ORS 87.035 upon any lot or parcel of land shall be preferred to any lien, mortgage or other encumbrance which attached to the land after or was unrecorded at the time of commencement of the improvement…,” and read the whole eye-crossing statute if you dare.

Once you know the number of your bill (here and here), then you can watch it as it moves its way through committees, hearings, departments, rewrites, and more.

1) For example, county law libraries are tracking this bill 2009 HB 2813 (as introduced, HTML or PDF):

Summary: “… Establishes disability advocacy fee on filings in circuit and county courts equal to 14 percent of filing fee provided by law, rounded up to next whole dollar. Provides that amounts collected
as fees be paid to organization designated by Governor for purpose of protecting, and advocating for, rights of certain persons with disabilities.

Reduces law library fee in circuit and county courts from 28 percent of filing fee provided by law to 14 percent….” (See here for full text of the bill in HTML or PDF)

2) Bill drafts change as amendments occur, so you will need to keep looking for changes, which will also be posted: Bills and Laws.

3) To find out where the bill has traveled, look up its Measure History, e.g. the House Measure History and the Senate Measure History.

4) Don’t forget to read from here your bill’s Referral Notices, Report Summaries, House and Senate Tables, and Staff Measure Summaries (Fiscal and Revenue Impact Statements).

5) And keep an eye on those Committee activities.

6) You don’t have to go to Salem to watch your elected state officials in action in hearings. You can watch online. This, too, is a lot more interesting than you might think. These are your state’s laws that are being discussed, and your rights and responsibilities.

7) If a bill is passed by both chambers, the House and the Senate, it then heads to the Governor’s desk. If the Governor signs it, the bill becomes law and is given an Oregon Law Chapter number and eventually is codified in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) (or not, at the case may be – not all Oregon Laws are codified, but they are still law!).

8) Last, but not least, I always give a plug for the Legislative Liaisons (phone & email at bottom of webpage), who are wonderful. You can telephone them at: 503-986-1000. But be patient during the Legislative Session.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.