How a Bill Becomes a Law

The Oregon State Legislature convenes annually in February at the State Capitol in Salem. Regular sessions may not exceed 160 days in odd-numbered years. Short sessions last 35 days in even numbered years.

In early January, an assembly convenes to swear-in newly elected officials, elece legislative leaders, adopt rules for the session, organize and appoint committees, and begin introducing bills. During this time, Bills are introduced in hopes of becoming laws.

There are two regulating bodies: the House and the Senate. Bills must first pass the House before they are heard by the Senate. Most of the work to shape legislation and public policy are done in Legislative Committees. Committees are made up of small groups of legislators from both political parties who deal with related issues such as transportation, revenue, educations, laboe, and economic development.  

The Speaker of the House is the first person to receive the proposed Bills. The Speaker chooses an appropriate House Committee for the Bill to be heard in, as well as directs the committee’s staff and presides over its deliberations. In some instances, the committee chair may also appoint subcommittees.  

Once the Committee receives the Bill, the Committee will set up public hearings – this is an opportunity for members of the public (as well as lobbyists, business, education, and governmental agency representatives) to travel to Salem to testify whether they are for/against the Bill. Here, the Committee may add amendments to the Bill. The Bill may sit in the House for quite a while with the hearings and amendments.  Ultimately, the decision is up to the Committee whether to pass the Bill onto the Senate or not.   


If it gets passed by the House, it will then have a 2nd reading by the Senate. The Senate may then add additional Amendments or even deduct Amendments made by the House. If it gets passed by the Senate, the Bill goes to Ways and Means (State funding) if there is a funding component to it (which is most likely).

Bills will often sit in Way and Means until the funding becomes available. If there is no funding available, the Bill will not pass. If there is funding, it will be passed onto the appropriate state agency to be enacted as law.

Every year, the Legislature publishes an Oregon Legislative Guide – a guide to Oreon’s Legislative Assembly and the Oregon Legislative Process. It includes all of the elected members, office locations, email addresses, committee listings, staff members, district maps, and a narrative of the legislative process.  

For questions, emails


** Links**

Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS)
This is a fantastic tool for everything you need to know relating to Bills in Oregon. You can search for specific Bills introduced or just what bills are currently being heard in the session, the full text of the proposed Bill, the organization or individual sponsoring it, what committee it is being heard in, when hearings are, where it is in the process, and you can even subscribe for updates and Amendments to be emailed to you.

The connection between citizens and their government is strengthened when the public has ample opportunity to have their concerns heard by the legislature. Find out who you represents you: