If you find a “law” on The Internet, doesn’t it mean it’s “The Law?” (hahaha)?
Not everything you read on the Internet is accurate. (I know! Hard to believe, but it’s true!)
Make sure the “law” you find online is accurate and know how to correct and update it if necessary.
Some states have enacted UELMA, Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act. Few have executed the act, but some are in the process.
Oregon’s UELMA is codified at ORS 192.715 et seq. (but does not include court documents, only statutes and regulations).
UELMA Session law: Oregon UELMA: Chapter 221, (2013 Laws): Effective date May 23, 2013
You can find its legislative history using OLIS at the Oregon Legislature’s website: Search 2013 HB 2944 (make sure you’re not in the current session’s default setting)
More about UELMA at these OLR blog posts.
A longer or alternate way around to the same information for each Legislative Session:
This example assumes you have a print set of the 2011 ORS and want to know which ORS sections changed in 2013.
You will need to locate the “Sections Affected by Measures” publication at the Legislature’s website.
You need to get to the right Session first. You can travel from the Legislature’s Bills and Laws homepage or for this example:
1) Shortcut to the 2013 Regular Session OLIS page.
2) From that 2013 Regular Session OLIS page, click on “Reports” for the dropdown menu (upper right)
3) From that “Reports” menu, click on “Daily and Cumulative Session Publications”
4) You’ll see the “Sections Affected by Measures” document and others. Voila!
If you have a 2009 ORS, you can update with the 2011 “Sections Affected by Measures” document and a 2013 “Sections Affected by Measures” document.
But don’t forget to double-check those Special Sessions, just in case ….
See Justice Landau’s concurring opinion in State of Oregon v. Ian George Vanornum (SC S060715), decided December 27, 2013 (on page PDF page 24 or Opinion page 23 or Concurring page 1)
“LANDAU, J., concurring. I write separately to address an issue that the parties did not raise, but that nevertheless made a difference in the outcome of this case and could well make a difference in future cases. That issue concerns the nature of the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure — specifically, whether they are statutes. In brief, some are statutes, and some are not. It depends on whether they were affirmatively enacted into law by the legislature….” [Link to full opinion.]
State of Oregon v. Ian George Vanornum (SC S060715), decided December 27, 2013:
Excerpt, p. 7: “.... The initial question that this case raises — whether ORCP 59 H controls appellate court review of claims of instructional error — arises because subsection (1) declares that “a party may not obtain review on appeal” of a trial court’s asserted error in giving or refusing to give a jury instruction unless the party identified the asserted error to the trial court and made a timely notation of exception….” [Link to full opinion.]
A “committee pony” is a document created by the Legislative Fiscal Office mainly for the bill carriers as the bill is favorably passed out of a Ways & Means committee.
What’s a Bill Carrier? Read on:
A Bill Carrier: “The legislator assigned by the Committee Chair to explain and speak in favor of a measure on the floor and to answer questions about it.” (See more definitions at the Oregon Legislature’s Glossary.)
The Committee Pony summary is commonly read verbatim on the floor of the respective body as the body considers the bill.
The rest of the Committee Pony, primarily containing W&M committee summaries, financials and budget policy packages, is a method for this information be disseminated to other legislators.
The date for the “committee pony” is usually the date of the last work session held by the Ways & Means committee assigned the bill.
It is possible that no other state legislature in the country uses this term (although I’m sure other horse-related terminology can be heard with great frequency on the floors and halls of legislatures).
You can find Committee Ponies (or is that Ponys’ ?) at the excellent OLIS service from the Oregon State Legislature. It won’t eliminate the need for complicated legislative history research for older laws, but it will sure make compiling legislative histories for current laws a virtual snap, so to speak.
Thank you to Jerry Curry (Information Specialist at the Oregon State Library), who de-confused (!) us multiple times during these past legislative session.
Currently you can find PDFs of the 1955-1967 and 1995-2009 ORS at the Oregon Legislature’s website. Soon, the 1969-1993 superseded ORSs will be there, too. (Look under: “Selected Archives of the Oregon Revised Statutes.”)
The Washington County Law Library has been scanning these pre-1995 ORSs for the Legislature and they have been making those images available to everyone from their website. We have scanned through 1989 (and started 1991), but for a publicly-hosted set of these superseded statutes for the years 1967-1993, you need to be patient.
We have been told that the Legislature is in the middle of a website redesign project and won’t be able to publish the 1967-1993 superseded ORSs until October. (We wish them luck and lots of pizza for sustenance! A redesign is lots of work, lots of fun work (at least for librarians, website designers, and content strategists), but it is a mega-ton of work from start to finish, especially on the scale of a state legislature’s website).
So, in the meantime, here’s how to find Oregon Superseded Statutes (aka ORSs):
1) 1955-1967 and 1995-2009 ORSs: Easy: From the Oregon Legislature’s website, search under Bills/Laws. Click on the link to “Selected Archives of the Oregon Revised Statutes.”
2) 1969-1989 ORSs: Not so easy, but not too bad:
a) Some public and academic law libraries have these in print, or
b) Email the Washington County Law Library with your ORS citation (year and section) and we will send you a PDF of the page(s) you need.
3) 1991-1993: Not so easy: not fully scanned, yet:
a) Some public and academic law libraries have these in print, or
b) We hope to have these scanned and indexed soon, so you can also email us and ask.
How many legislators know how to compile a legislative history? My guess is not many. But they have many skills the rest of us lack, but need. Who among us has the patience to shepherd bills through the state or federal (or local) legislative process without going berserk – and having everyone scream at you day and night? Not I.
Try shadowing a legislator for a day and you’ll see what I mean. (Try shadowing a teacher for a day, too, and see how much like legislating that job is, with just as many people screaming at you.)
Legislative assistants can compile legislative histories and so can government documents and law librarians. For us, legislative history compilation skills are a job requirement, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, especially if we’re far from the seat of government and can’t visit the official and complete archives where complete bill files can be found.
Here’s an enlightening article that explains why federal legislative history compilation is not for mere mortals:
“A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History,” by John Cannan. Law Library Journal, 105:2 (2013)
Or link from: the Law Library Journal menu.
You can also click on the “Bills Signed by Governor Kitzhaber (2013)” line for a full view of the data-set. (This link may change over time. If so, visit the Oregon Governor’s website to find new URL.)
You can read the Governor’s signing statements, too.
What happens in Oregon when a word in a statute is undefined – and someone’s life and liberty is at stake?
“…Based on that incident, defendant was charged with prostitution, ORS 167.007(1)(a), and tried by the court.3 10 ORS 167.007(1)(a) provides that a person commits prostitution when the “person engages in, or offers or agrees to engage in, sexual conduct or sexual contact in return for a fee.” The word “fee” is not defined in the statutory scheme….” [Link to full opinion.]
Note: Compiling an Oregon legislative history is a lengthy, complex research process and, unless you can get to the State Archives in person and read the bill files, or have the money to pay Archives to scan the files, or are lucky enough that someone before you asked the Archives to scan the files ….. Well, suffice it to say that I’ve seen grown lawyers cry when faced with having to compile a legislative history – no, you can’t compile a thorough one from online resources only.