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Oregon's Legislative Process

Capitol2018 Short Session

The Oregon Legislature meets for regular sessions lasting 160 days in odd-numbered years, and short sessions lasting 35 days in even-numbered years. This year, the legislature will be in session from February 5–March 9.

To keep an eye on important days in the capitol, click here.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

The following steps outline the basic process for a bill to become a law in Oregon.

  • A bill is sponsored by a member of the Senate or House of Representatives. (The process is the same either way. For the sake of this example, let’s say the bill starts in the House.)
  • The bill is assigned to a committee, which reviews the bill, holds public hearings and work sessions, and then submitted back to the House for a vote.
  • The full House debates the bill and then votes. The bill must receive a majority of votes (31 in the House, 16 in the Senate) to pass.
  • If passed, the bill is sent to the Senate where it is assigned to a committee, as above.
  • The full Senate debates and votes on the bill.
  • Bills must be passed by both houses in an identical form, so if the Senate changed the bill at all from the house version, there will be a reconciliation process to resolve any differences between the two versions.
  • If both houses pass the same version of a bill, it is sent on to the governor to sign or veto. A veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses.

For more detailed information about how a bill becomes a law, click here

Key Terms

The following are a selection of key terms for the legislative process. For a full legislative glossary, click here.

  • Amendment: A change made or proposed to be made to a measure. Measures can be amended more than once.
  • Caucus: "Caucus" is used as both a noun and a verb. A caucus, n., is a group of people who share something in common (e.g. they are members of the same political party, such as the Senate Republican Caucus or the Senate Democratic Caucus, or come from the same area of the state, such as the Coastal Caucus or the Eastern Oregon Caucus, or share something else in common, such as the Freshman Caucus or the Women's Caucus). When these people caucus, v., they meet to address their group's policy questions and to select political candidates for office, or political party leaders.
  • Committee: A group of legislators chosen to consider bills in a particular subject area and make recommendations to the full Senate or House.
  • Do Pass: The recommendation by a committee for passage of a measure, abbreviated "DP." "DPA" means "do pass with amendments."
  • Engrossed Bill: A measure that is printed with its amendments included.
  • General Fund: Money available for the state budget that is not dedicated to a specific agency or purpose and that can be used for general purposes of state government. Most General Fund money in Oregon derives from personal and corporate income taxes. Some revenue from liquor, cigarettes, and other sources also go into the General Fund.
  • Hearing: A public meeting of a legislative committee held for the purpose of taking testimony and/or other action concerning proposed legislation.
  • Legislative Days (also called Committee Days): Since Oregon voters adopted annual sessions in 2010, the Legislature meets for a maximum of 160 days in odd numbered years and 35 days in even numbered years. The period of time in between sessions is called the interim. The Legislature convenes periodically during the interim for special meeting days, called "Legislative Days."  Legislative Days happen approximately every eight weeks and last for four days.  During Legislative Days, Committees may hold informational hearings on topics that could lead to legislation in upcoming sessions, hear updates on implementations of past legislation, hear reports from state agencies and Task Forces, and keep current on the subject areas which affect Oregonians.  During Legislative Days, the Senate may also convene for the purpose of making executive appointments.
  • Other Funds: Money received by state agencies that does not come from the General Fund or from the federal government. Other Funds come from sources such as gasoline taxes, driver licenses fees, and fishing license fees. Other Funds may be dedicated, requiring the revenue to be spent for specific purposes. Examples of dedicated funds are park user fees dedicated to park programs and gasoline taxes dedicated to highway programs.
  • Sponsor: The legislator(s), state agency, or legislative committee that introduces a measure. The name of this person or committee is printed at the top of the measure.

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