The Oregon Legislative Library’s Reference Librarian* answers our ‘floor letter’ question. (The “Note from Mother” question is answered at the end of this blog post. Who said watching the Oregon Legislature wasn’t fun?!)
“A ‘floor letter’ is information put on each member’s desk during a session the day of a measure’s 3rd reading and subsequent floor vote. The floor letter has to be identified as originating ‘from the desk of’ a member.
Essentially, it’s like a last ditch effort to make a point.
What typically happens is an outside group or individual or even a member drafts a letter or identifies information (news story, web page, etc…) they wish to share with other members.
If the request originates from outside of the body (non-member), you need to obtain the assistance of a member (Senator or Representative) who will add their name to the letter as well as request distribution via that body’s chief parliamentarian.
In the case of the Senate, 31 copies are made. One copy is placed on each Senator’s desk and the last copy is kept by the body’s office (Secretary of the senate or Chief Clerk of the House).
The new Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) has a link to floor letters that have been submitted during the current session.
See the Legislature’s Glossary for other terms used in the legislative process.”
“Note from Mother”: A slang term for a note from a legislator or committee administrator authorizing Legislative Counsel to work with the person possessing the note on drafting a measure or amendments. (From the Oregon Legislature’s Glossary, which you can link to from the Citizen Guide webpage.)
*Thank you to Jerry Curry, Reference Librarian, Oregon State Library, on assignment at the Legislative Library, Oregon State Capitol.
If you need assistance from the Oregon Legislative Library, email or phone them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-986-1668.