Articles Posted in State Government & Legal Resources

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The State of Oregon Law Library (SOLL) is providing statewide access to 2 valuable legal research databases, previously unavailable for remote access to non-attorney Oregonians. (No legal research database is cheap, but pooling resources and making Really Good Value legal research databases available to everyone supports “access to justice” goals: to educate students, voters, and anyone else with an abiding lifelong intellectual curiosity about law, lawmaking, judicial process, legal rights, government, and politics.)

Link to EBSCO and Fastcase, from the SOLL Legal Resources webpage:

“1) EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center
This database contains NOLO Legal information books and a nationwide database of sample legal forms. This database is available to all Oregonians.

2) Oregon Statewide Fastcase Access
The State of Oregon Law Library provides access to the legal research database Fastcase. All Oregonians can create a free account to search Caselaw, Statutes and other legal databases.”

And keep an eye on the SOLL news page and blog for more legal research and legal information updates.

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The Oregon capitol building burned in the spring of 1935, destroying most records. What the fire did not destroy, the water damaged. If anything survived, it went to the Oregon Historical Society and the State Archives.

You can find photos and information from the Oregon State Library’s “The 1935 Fire and its Aftermath” website  and also at the Oregon State Capitol Wikipedia page and at the Salem History webpage.

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Portland archivists kick off “Oregon Archives Month with a smorgasbord of Portland-area archives. Join us on Saturday, October 3rd from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Portland Archives and Records Center….” [Link to Portland Area Archives website.]

Visit the celebration’s FAQ to find out more about the October 3rd event.

And don’t forget about your own archiving efforts: Read the OLR blog post on Save that Webpage to the Internet Archive!

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This was and still is an interesting report, for those so inclined, from the 2006 Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature:

A Blueprint for a 21st Century Legislature, Public Commission on the Oregon LegislatureNovember 2006

Listen to a Portland City Club presentation on the Report.

Wikipedia entry on the Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature.

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Visit the State Archives “Landmark Legislative Bills by Subject” website to find the following:

Oregon Minimum Wage Law Records

1967 HB 1340 Introduction

The 1967 Legislative Assembly enacted House Bill 1340, Oregon’s first uniform minimum wage law that applied to adult men. This law also assigned duties to the Wage and Hour Division to investigate and enforce the legislation. The paper records produced by the 1967 Regular Legislative Session committees which discussed House Bill 1340 have been digitized in Portable Document Format (PDF) and audio recordings of the House Labor & Management committee in MP3 are available for research on this website.”

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Six hours is barely enough time to teach Legislative History 101, but you can still join in the (admittedly wonkish) fun on October 23rd, 2015:

Oregon Legislative History: Research and Time Management Tips from the Experts”

Legislators, lawyers, law students, paralegals, librarians and other legal researchers are welcome to attend or purchase the course materials.

(Researchers who live or visit Salem should also visit State Archives and the State Capitol for some hands-on research experience. We couldn’t include those tours in this CLE, but you can have your own educational tour at your own pace on another day.)

Oregon Legislative History CLE
October 23, 2015
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Ambridge Event Center
1333 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97232
6.75 General or Practical Skills MCLE Credits

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We love hearing about other excellent public law libraries that serve the legal community and the public decade after decade after decade …. The need never seems to end:

Harris County Law Library turns 100

On October 1, 2015, the Harris County Law Library will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, we have planned a Centennial Celebration focusing on our century of service to the Houston legal community and our bright future promoting open and equal access to justice for all. We would like to invite all of you to join us in our celebration! Although a trip to Texas may not be in the cards for everyone, please know that you are certainly welcome to join us if you are in Houston on October 1. Additionally, you can help us celebrate remotely by visiting our Centennial Digital Exhibit.”

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Ohio Supreme Court:

OPINION 2015-1
Issued August 7, 2015
Judicial Performance of Civil Marriages of Same-Sex Couples

SYLLABUS: A judge who exercises the authority to perform civil marriages may not refuse to perform same-sex marriages while continuing to perform opposite-sex marriages. A judge may not decline to perform all marriages in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples based on his or her personal, moral, or religious beliefs.

QUESTIONS PRESENTED: The Board of Professional Conduct received inquiries from judges and a judicial association on behalf of its members seeking guidance concerning the obligation of a judge to perform same-sex civil marriages: 1) whether a judge who is authorized to perform marriages may refuse to marry same-sex couples based on personal, moral, or religious beliefs, but continue to marry opposite-sex couples; 2) whether a judge may decline to perform all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples….” [Link to full opinion.]

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Oregon v. Lang, 273 Or App 113 (2015), (Benton County Circuit Court CM1320460; A154498)

Citations below are to the online, unofficial advance sheet version of this case, and available for viewing (at least as of today) at:

This is another case that would be quite instructive to laypeople interested in the law, assuming they read the whole case and also perhaps talk to a lawyer or judge about it, rather than relying on a brief news report – or a blog post.

One cannot read this case, or most any other case for that matter, through a “common sense” lens, especially if it’s someone else’s idea of common sense and that person hasn’t the slightest clue how laws are made, published, administered, enforced, litigated, or interpreted.

Among other knowledge to be gained from reading this case: one might learn about probable cause, how statutes are interpreted, how judges decide the meanings of words, the role of legislative history, rights and responsibilities of law enforcement personnel, the value of “making a good case” by the police and the prosecutor, etc. Yes, there is much more to learn from this case and perhaps especially the limits of the law and perhaps also how not to handle a neighbor-law problem. (Do not assume these have easy legal or non-legal remedies.)

Aside: We may also assume that none of the parties to the case or the judges ever lived in a small apartment with a large, long-haired dog that had been sprayed full on by a skunk. There is nothing “not inherently unpleasant” about smelling skunkweed-equivalent for days on end. Just saying (g).

Excerpts from Oregon v. Lane:

“... defendant’s appeal is limited to challenging whether the affidavit furnished probable cause to believe that someone in his residence had created a physically offensive condition….” [p. 119]

“…. The parties’ arguments about the meaning of the term “physically offensive” present a question of statutory interpretation. To determine the legislature’s intent, we look to the text of ORS 166.025 in context as well as the legislative history and, if necessary, to interpretive maxims. State v. Gaines, 346 Or 160, 171-72, 206 P3d 1042 (2009). We begin with the words of the statute themselves. Because the term “physically offensive” is not statutorily defined, we assume that the legislature intended the words to carry their ordinary meaning. “Physically” means “in respect to the body.” Webster’s Third New Int’l Dictionary, 1707 (unabridged ed 2002). “Physical,” in turn, means “of or relating to the body <~ strength>—often opposed to mental.” Id. at 1706. “Offensive” means “giving painful or unpleasant sensations” and is synonymous with “nauseous, obnoxious, [and] revolting.” Id. at 1566. Those synonyms suggest that the word “offensive” implies a greater degree of displeasure or discomfort than the word “unpleasant” might, standing alone....” [pp. 119-120]

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It’s easy to register to vote in Oregon, online, in person, by mail.
Visit the Oregon Secretary of State Elections homepage or the Register to Vote page directly.

It’s also easy to update your contact information, e.g. address, name, etc.

HOWEVER, note that it’s not so easy at that Secretary of State’s website to figure out how you can change your party affiliation online or in print. That webpage says:

You can update your voter registration information, except to change your party for the Primary Election ….

But there is no specific instruction or link to any page with specific information about how to update your party affiliation so it’s anyone guess if you can do that without calling or visiting a county elections office, which is either very easy or very difficult depending on where you live and what transport you have. Maybe if I drill down and enter my personal data in all the forms it will become clear how one changes one’s party affiliation, but without doing all that, I couldn’t tell you.

The SoS print voter registration forms (PDFs also online) allow you to “update” all sort of personal information, e.g. name, county and state, home address, and date of birth, but it does not include on the form a clear option to update your choice of “Political Party.

On the other hand it looks as if you can write in a change on that form (assuming you print it out). I suppose you can add a note about your party change to the bottom of the form where it asks you to specify what information you are updating. But it’s not clear that is permitted.


Contact your county’s Elections office; they should almost always be the first place you turn anyway when you have questions about Elections and Voting. You can find links to your county’s elections info at the SoS County Elections Officials webpage.

Some county elections websites give very clear instructions on updating party affiliation, but not all of them do. Multnomah County Elections does give clear instructions and I suspect that the instructions apply to every county – after all, Oregon elections law is state law, not local.

Here, for example, is what you’ll see at the Multnomah County Elections Office website:
Party affiliation change – please update your party affiliation by completing a new registration card online (link is external) or print (link is external).

Happy voting!