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Late-Session Legislative Update

Though there is still over a month left in Oregon’s state legislative session, a variety of legislative deadlines shape the session in a way that allows us to already know which bills will make it into law this session. Several bills were eliminated earlier in the session when they did not move forward in time to meet deadlines in the chamber in which they were introduced, as discussed in our previous update. For a house bill (a bill introduced in the house) the house is the ‘first chamber’ and the senate is the ‘second chamber’; the opposite is true for a senate bill. Two recent deadlines established which of the bills that made it to the second chamber had a chance to make it through this session: May 19th was the deadline for a committee chairperson to schedule a work session on a bill while today, June 2nd, was the deadline for a committee to hold that work session. A work session is where the committee votes on a bill; if the yes votes outnumber the no votes, the bill is moved to the house or senate floor for a full chamber vote.

Some committees are exempt from these deadlines. In particular, the Rules, Revenue, and Ways & Means committees are exempt. Work sessions may still be scheduled for bills in those committees. The bill which would designate the rescued shelter dog as the state dog is in the house rules committee and still stands a chance of becoming law despite the fact that no work session has been scheduled yet.

Most bills are not exempt, so those that may become law have already been voted out of committee. The next step is for the bill to be voted on by the second chamber. If the bill gets a majority yes vote, it will generally become law. If the bill has an amendment it will go through an additional step of returning to the first chamber (the chamber in which it was introduced) for another vote. Finally, the governor may choose to sign the law; it will become law even if she does not choose to sign the law, so long as she does not veto it. If she does veto the bill, it will not become law unless the legislature “overrides” the veto with a 2/3 majority vote.

Two important animal laws have already been signed by the governor this session. House Bill 2576 created an educational exemption to measure 100, which outlaws certain kinds of wildlife trafficking. Although we were neutral on the bill as amended, we followed this bill closely to be certain measure 100 was not significantly weakened and testified against another bill, House Bill 3429, that would have reduced the number of protected species. House Bill 3158 directs implementation of a program to encourage reporting wildlife law violations. We support increased reporting but were neutral on this bill because the only specified incentives for reporting under the original bill were additional hunting tags. However, this bill was later amended to direct cash rewards as well.

Four important animal laws have received majority yes votes in the second chamber. House Bills 2625, 3177, and 3283 clarify and strengthen laws prohibiting animal abuse and neglect. We submitted testimony in favor of each of these bills, which were requested by the Oregon Humane Society. House Bill 2883 also passed the second chamber. We also submitted testimony in favor of this bill, which would authorize the court to punish outfitters and guides more harshly than the general public for violating wildlife laws.

Another important animal law has passed out of committee in the second chamber and is waiting for a vote by the full Senate. House Bill 2732 free from legal liability a good Samaritan who breaks into a car to rescue a child or pet in imminent danger from legal liability, provided the person follows certain guidelines. We testified in favor of this bill and helped secure amendments that we think make it stronger and more clear.

Finally, thank you to everyone who contacted their state representative to urge passage of House Concurrent Resolution 16, the bill to make "rescued shelter dogs" the official state dog. The bill remains stuck in the House Rules Committee, but we continue to hold out hope - for a future session if not this one.

Thank you for supporting our work in Oregon’s legislative process!

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