OLIS. The Oregon Legislature has been in session for a month. We are certain you have seen the news on a variety of bills. Due to Committee assignments, many of us may not know what is happening elsewhere in the State Capitol. If you want to comment on a specific bill before a Committee, please submit your comments or testimony directly to the Committee if the bill gets a hearing. The best source for information is OLIS – the Oregon Legislative Information System at:
The OLIS page allows you to follow committees and bills in the upper right of the page. By clicking on ‘Bills’ you can find bills by sponsor, bill text which is a search engine, or a bill number. Once on a bill page, you can sign up for email alerts for that bill in the upper right of the page. You will then get an email when the bill text changes, analysis is updated, meeting materials are added, amendments are proposed, hearings are scheduled, and wealth of other information. The best way to stay informed, and influence legislation, is to submit testimony via the Oregon Legislative Information System.
State Federal Issues. Unlike Congress, and other States, the Oregon Legislature is a limited citizen legislature under the Oregon Constitution. We have no auditing powers, no investigative authority, and virtually no leverage with the Executive Branch other than to pass a bill hoping it will be followed. We used to claim the Oregon Constitution required the Legislature to balance the budget, but that is now in question due to Article IX Section 6 which states we must raise taxes if the Executive Branch spends more funds than budgeted. Strange times. This being said, the Oregon State Senate has NO federal authority nor does our own Congressional delegation listen to us much. However, some days half the calls and emails, sometimes 100s to thousands, are about events in Washington DC for which we have ZERO influence in most cases. If you have an issue with the federal government or Washington D.C. your best influence is to contact your United States Senator at the following link:
We recommend contacting U.S. Senators as their email systems accept emails from IP Addresses from all Oregon zip codes. Many U.S. Representative offices are set up to reject zip codes outside their boundaries. Hence, we even have problems contacting U.S. Representatives.
Emergency Preparedness. In the Fall, we sent out an emergency preparedness email as winter weather approached. Also, the State had just completed emergency drills revolving around a Cascadia tsunami but also preparing us for an earthquake, volcano, pandemic, power grid failure, terrorist attack, or the freak winter storms that lasted for weeks in Eastern Oregon this year. Most citizens appreciated the planning information. Some rejected any planning as alarmist. Then many concerned citizens pontificated on how to economically prepare. Luckily, Oregon’s own Polk County Itemizer Observer newspaper has done a very good series of articles on preparing for the ‘big one’ or just the normal month long power outage. You may find the following link very helpful:
Jolene Guzman of the Polk Itemizer Observer has done a dozen how-to type articles outlining how to prepare on the cheap yet wisely. Emily Mentzer and her folks at the Polk Itemizer Observer have worked up the above link to help Oregon citizens prepare for an emergency. The last article on the page titled “Is your family or business ready for an emergency? Getting ready requires a little planning, but it’s not impossible.” is our favorite starter. Also, they have other links too.
Again, we recommend you get prepared for large scale emergencies as both the state and federal governments may take weeks, if not months, to adequately respond, besides, working locally in communities to help prepare has other benefits.
Do not forget to use OLIS, the Oregon State Legislative System, to track bills of interest, and contact your U.S. Senator on federal issues. You can email us comments on bills and issues but please remember we can get thousands of emails in a single day with only one person to respond if it is a question. That may take a very long time. If it is a comment on a specific bill, we file your comment in the electronic or paper bill folder for consideration should the bill actually move during the legislative process. Most bills never even get a hearing though.
Brian J. Boquist
Oregon State Senator