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Oregon Legislative History: From PGE to Gaines


For a lesson on how Oregon has heretofore interpreted legislative history (and intent) – and how they will do so henceforth:

Oregon v. Gaines (SC S055031), April 30, 2009

“…The question presented — i.e., whether defendant’s conduct, as described, constituted a “means of * * * physical * * * interference or obstacle” within the meaning of ORS 162.235(1) — poses an issue of statutory interpretation. The methodology that Oregon courts follow in interpreting statutes is a distillation of settled interpretative principles, some of which have been codified in Oregon statutes since early statehood and others of which have been articulated in this court’s case law for many years. Mastriano v. Board of Parole, 342 Or 684, 691, 159 P3d 1151 (2007). The methodology, as outlined in PGE v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 317 Or 606, 610-12, 859 P2d 1143 (1993), entails three sequential levels of analysis to determine the legislature’s intent. First, the court examines the text and context of the statute. Id. at 610-11. If the legislature’s intent is obvious from that first level of analysis, “further inquiry is unnecessary.” Id. at 611. “If, but only if,” the legislature’s intent is not obvious from the text and context inquiry, “the court will then move to the second level, which is to consider legislative history[.]” Id. at 611.(2) If the legislature’s intent remains unclear after examining legislative history, “the court may resort to general maxims of statutory construction to aid in resolving the remaining uncertainty.” Id. at 612.

…. We therefore conclude that, in light of the 2001 amendments to ORS 174.020, the appropriate methodology for interpreting a statute is as follows….” (read full case).

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