Legislative Process

Legislative Process: An Overview, the Process, and Keeping Informed (Oregon Law)
April 19, 2009 | By: Greg B. Coxey

In addition to the governing documents, Homeowners Associations and Planned Communities are also subject to the Oregon Condominium Act and Planned Community Act. Because both statutes are constantly evolving (and may be modified from time to time by the Oregon State Legislature), it is important to understand the basics of how the legislative process works in Oregon.

Overview

The Oregon State Legislature is made up of two houses (chambers): the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate consists of 30 members and each member is elected to serve four-year terms. The House of Representatives consists of 60 members and each member is elected to serve two-year terms.

The Senate and the House of Representatives (Legislative Assembly) meet every two years in regular session. The session convenes on the second Monday in January during odd-numbered years. The Oregon Constitution does not limit the length of the session.

The State Capitol Building is located in Salem, Oregon. The Senate meets in the Senate Chamber, while the House meets in the House Chamber, both of which are located in the Capitol Building and may be observed from the gallery. The public is not permitted to be on the “floor” of either chamber when in session or immediately before or after. Each legislator has an office, also located in the Capitol Building.

Process

There are three types of legislative measures: bill, memorials and resolutions. Bills are the most common legislative measure. A bill may be introduced in either the Senate or the House.

Any person may write or draft a bill. However, all bills must be submitted to Legislative Counsel for review for legal considerations and for form and style and only legislators (or their authorized staff and state agencies) may submit ideas or drafts to Legislative Counsel. The office of Legislative Counsel provides legal and publication services to the Legislative Assembly and its members and other agencies of the state government.

First Reading is the first official step in the process of a bill or other measure. It is the recitation in the chamber of the number, title and sponsor (if in the Senate). There are several thousand bills and other measurers “introduced” each session. After the First Reading, a bill is assigned to a committee by the President or Speaker. In the House, a bill must be assigned to a relevant substantive committee.

Committees hold public hearings and work sessions, and, in certain circumstances, executive sessions. Although interested parties attend work sessions, public testimony is not allowed, unless requested. Committees are subject to Oregon’s “Sunshine Laws.” Early in a session, committees are usually required to give at least 24 hour notice of meetings. Later, required notice is usually reduced to one hour and, by the end of the session, no notice is required.

A committee does not have to take any action on any bill. Many bills “die” in committee. If a committee votes to pass a bill out of committee (typically with a “do pass” recommendation), it will then go to the entire chamber for a Second Reading. After the Second Reading, it has a Third Reading. Like the First and Second Reading, the bill’s number , title, and sponsor ( if in the Senate) are recited. The Third Reading is important because it usually precedes a discussion and vote. The legislator assigned by the committee chair to explain and speak in favor of the bill is said to “carry” the bill.

A bill or other measure which passes one chamber is then sent to the other chamber where the process starts all over. If a chamber amends the bill passed by the other chamber, the amended bill must be returned to the other chamber for “concurrence.” If the other chamber fails to concur, a conference committee is appointed to try to work out a compromise.

Keeping Informed

There are three main associations or groups currently involved in the process on behalf of condominium and homeowner associations:

  • LAC (Legislative Action Committee) of CAI (Community Association Institute)
  • OWCAM (Oregon Washington Community Association Managers)
  • Condominium-HOA Working Group

The best resource to get information about bills that affect associations is the Legislature Homepage that can be found at: www.leg.state.or.us. Complete information regarding legislators, committee assignments and schedules, procedures, measures, status reports, etc can be found on the website.