Oregon Legislative Records Guide
Legislative Research at the Oregon State Archives
Early legislative records in the Oregon State Archives begin with the 1843 Legislative Committee which drafted the Organic Laws and created Oregon's Provisional Government. Check Oregon Statutes, Laws, and Journals in the Oregon State Archives Reference Library for resources available for research prior to the keeping of legislative committee records (e.g. minutes, exhibits) which are the primary source for finding legislative history.
In the late 1920s the Oregon Legislative Assembly began keeping committee minutes and exhibits. The Archives has minutes and exhibits of the Interim Workmen's Compensation Committee for 1926-27. These records do not become continuous until 1961 when the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a law requiring the deposit of legislative records with the State Archivist.
Committee Minutes and Audio Tapes
Legislative minutes are arranged by House, Senate or Joint committee and thereunder, in chronological order by hearing date. The minutes include date and time of hearing, individuals present, and measures heard. They summarize committee hearings and highlight the major points of discussion. They reflect discussion and testimony by legislators and interested parties on proposed legislative acts. The legislative minutes are not a transcription of the audio tapes.
The legislative committee audio tapes begin in 1957 and consist of reel-to-reel tapes, dictation tapes (1967-69), cassette tapes (1981-2007), and now digital audio recordings. Audio tapes are sometimes indexed in minutes or tape logs. The reference staff will duplicate tapes (except dictation tapes) for sale. There will be an additional speed change fee if a cassette copy is requested from an original reel-to-reel.
Legislative exhibits are placed in separate files, in conjunction with the minutes, and are arranged by bill number, date, letter or subject. They include written testimonies, proposed amendments, letters regarding bills, reports, measure analysis, publications and related material. Exhibits are submitted by legislators, committee staff, and witnesses.
Original Bill Files
The original bill file (or original measure folder) is a compilation of the original measure with subsequent engrossed versions and, if it passed, topped with the enrolled copy of the bill. The bill file can also include committee reports, printed amendments, history sheets, a fiscal analysis and a staff measure analysis. The committee report is a daily notice of committee actions on measures. The staff measure analysis summarizes the issues and expected impact of the bill. The engrossed versions of the measure add and delete words, phrases, and sections as they go through the legislative process.
Floor Proceeding Audio Tapes
The legislative floor proceeding audio tapes are arranged by House or Senate, there under, chronological by date. They document the House and Senate floor debates during the regular sessions of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. The House tapes begin in 1963, the Senate in 1973. They consist of reel-to-reel tapes and cassette tapes. Tape logs are available for most sessions.
Research in legislative records requires a bill number and year. With only the Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) number follow these steps:
1. Look at the end of the ORS section where the Oregon Laws (regular or special session) chapter and years are cited in parenthesis. For research of legislative history prior to 1953 look in the ORS, 1953 Reviser's Notes, to find the Oregon Laws chapter and year.
2. Look up the chapter in the Oregon Laws for that year. The bill number is cited at the beginning of the chapter.
3. Next look at the legislative calendar in the same year's Senate and House Journal. The calendar shows which legislative committees the bill went through. Make a note of dates in committee from the "date of referral" to the "date of do pass." Do an inclusive search through the minutes. Do not depend upon the dates cited in the calendar or in the committee clerk's index at the beginning of most committee minutes.
Check with the reference section of the Oregon State Archives to see if a legislative bill has been researched by the reference staff. Research on 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 bills are located on this Web site. This finding aid can be useful in researching the legislative records.
In addition to Legislative Assembly records other agency records may be useful in researching legislative history, such as records of the Office of the Governor, the Department of Justice, and The Council on Court Procedures.
Research Assistance from the Archives Staff
The reference staff will research two legislative bills per request. Because of the volume of requests, those that involve a large amount of material to be copied will be done as time permits. Do not send cash or checks with your request. E-mail, letters, telephone calls and walk-in inquires are welcome.
The Archives does charge for legislative bill tracing as well as photocopying and tape duplication (see Fees).
See the services section of the Archives Tour for a description of fees related to legislative research.
Oregon State Archives
800 Summer N.E.
Salem, Oregon 97310
The State Archives is open from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. The reference room telephone number is (503) 373-0701 ext. 1, FAX number is (503) 378-4118, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Using the Committee Minutes on this Web Site
Legislative minutes on this Web site start with the 1991 Regular Session. They are either in electronic form or scanned using Optical Character Recognition technology. The technology, although quite advanced, will still not translate all characters correctly. Thus, you may note occasional incorrect spelling of words and formatting errors.
This information is provided as-is. The original legislative records as described above are housed at the Oregon State Archives.
Microfilmed Minutes and Exhibits
The following libraries have some legislative committee minutes and exhibits on microfilm:
Multnomah Law Library
Courthouse - 4th floor
1021 SW 4th Ave.
Portland OR 97204
Washington County Law Library
111 NE Lincoln Street - Suite #250-L
Hillsboro, OR 97124
Clackamas County Law Library
807 Main St. - Room 101
Oregon City, OR 97045
10015 SW Terwilliger Boulevard
Portland, OR 97219-7799
Eugene, OR 97403
Oregon Statutes, Laws, and Journals in the Oregon State Archives Reference Library
Oregon Revised Statutes, 1953, Annotations, Reviser's Notes. 2 vols. Statute Revision Council, State of Oregon, 1953.
Oregon Revised Statutes, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 Editions, Legislative Counsel Committee, State of Oregon.
Oregon Laws, Senate and House Journals, Messages and Documents, 1843-2007, State of Oregon.
Shepard's Oregon Citations, Cases, Statutes, 1937-1957. 2 vols. The Frank Shepard Company.
General Laws of Oregon, 1845-1864. Compiled and Annotated by M. P. Deady, 1866.
General Laws of Oregon, 1843-1872. Compiled and Annotated by Matthew P. Deady and Lafayette Lane, 1874.
The Statutes of Oregon. 1855.
Hill's Annotated Laws of Oregon, compiled and annotated by William Lair Hill, 1887, 2 vols. and 1892 (2d Ed. 2 vols).
Bellinger and Cotton's Annotated Codes and Statutes of Oregon. Compiled by Charles B. Bellinger and William W. Cotton, 1902. 2 vols.
Lord's Oregon Laws. Compiled by William Paine Lord and Richard Ward Montague, 1909. 3 vols.
Oregon Laws. Compiled and Annotated by Conrad Patrick Olson, 1920. 2 vols.
Oregon Code Annotated. Compiled under the Supervision of the Supreme Court of Oregon, Chief Justice Oliver P. Coshow, 1930. 5 vols.
Oregon Compiled Laws Annotated. Compiled, Annotated and Indexed by the Publisher's Editorial Staff under the Supervision of the Supreme Court of Oregon, Bryan Goodenough, Code Commissioner, 1940. 10 vols.
Other Legislative Research Sources