June 29, 2023

Courthouse Construction Investments Continue in 2023-2025 Legislative Session

This session, the legislature continued to provide bonding authority for the renovation or replacement of Oregon’s courthouses. This project, which has been ongoing for more than a decade, is a partnership between the Oregon Judicial Department, the Oregon Legislature, and the counties where the courthouses are located. This biennium, the legislature provided bonding authority and a state match for a number of counties to move forward with their courthouse plans.

Four courthouses received bonding authority to replace their existing courthouses. The four courthouses are located in Clackamas, Morrow, Curry, and Benton Counties. In addition, two courthouses, in Deschutes and Columbia Counties, received bonding authority for renovations. For each of these courthouses, the county will provide matching funds to support the cost of the project.

In addition to the state bonding authority, three counties received one-time federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for renovations or replacement planning. The three counties are Harney, Umatilla, and Hood River.


Back to top

Legislators Return for Floor Votes

This legislative session, after approximately six weeks of failing to meet the quorum requirements because of a Senate Republican and Independent walkout, ended in a flurry of votes over the last eight days. While the Senate had been unable to vote bills off the floor and through their chamber, committee meetings had continued throughout the six weeks, allowing many bills to move through the process. Bills of interest that had been sitting in the backlog in the Senate included:

Senate Bill 11: Requires certain executive department boards or commissions that conduct public meetings through electronic means to record and promptly publish recording on website or hosting service so that public may observe or listen to meetings free of charge.

Senate Bill 428: Modifies pay equity requirements for employers. Removes certain provisions relating to obligations, rights and remedies under pay equity laws. Makes conforming amendments. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Senate Bill 619: Permits consumers to obtain from controller that processes consumer personal data confirmation as to whether controller is processing consumer’s personal data and categories of personal data controller is processing, list of specific third parties to which controller has disclosed consumer’s personal data or any personal data and copy of all of consumer’s personal data that controller has processed or is processing.

Senate Bill 807: Provides procedure whereby elected judge may challenge party, attorney, law firm, district attorney’s office, defense consortium or public defender’s office that files motions to disqualify judge that effectively deny judge assignment to criminal or juvenile delinquency docket.

Each of these bills successfully passed out of the legislature and are headed to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

Back to top

Public Defense Restructure Passes Legislature

Senate Bill 337, the bill to restructure the public defense system in Oregon, passed out of the Senate and House in the waning days of session. The bill, which included funding for a number of components of the new Oregon Public Defense Commission (OPDC), will have a staggered implementation. Dates of interest include:


    • Takes effect upon passage.
    • Requires the development and implementation of a “coordinated public safety unrepresented defendant crisis plan” by September 1, 2023.
    • Requires the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to report back to the legislature on the plans by October 1, 2023.


    • Modifies the OPDC appointment process beginning January 1, 2024.
    • Requires the OPDC to hire trial-level attorneys beginning January 1, 2024.
    • Requires the OPDC to promulgate and enforce standards, provide oversight, collect data, and report back to the legislature beginning January 1, 2024.


    • Abolishes the Office of Public Defense Services on January 1, 2025.
    • Transfers the OPDC from the Judicial Branch to the Executive Branch on January 1, 2025.
    • Requires the OPDC to contract directly with attorneys as of July 1, 2025.
    • Disallows incentives or disincentives that may interfere with effective assistance of counsel as of July 1, 2025.
    • The OPDC and the Executive Director serve at the pleasure of the Governor from January 1, 2025, to July 1, 2027.


    • Prohibits subcontracting, with the exception of nonprofits, as of July 1, 2027.
    • The Executive Director serves at the pleasure of the voting members of the OPDC beginning July 1, 2027.
    • OPDC members may be removed from office by the Governor only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office beginning July 1, 2027.

Back to top

How a Bill Becomes a Law

On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the House and Senate adjourned sine die and the legislative session closed. After the legislature adjourns, there are still a few steps each piece of legislation needs to complete.

Governor’s Signature. During the legislative session, the Governor has five days (including holidays but excluding weekends) to veto whole bills or “single items in appropriation bills.” Or Const, Art V, §§ 15a, 15b(3). For bills that are passed in the last five days of session, the Governor has 30 days (including holidays but excluding weekends) to veto a bill. A bill may pass without the Governor’s signature. If the 30 days have passed and the Governor has not vetoed the bill, it is presumed signed. Or Const, Art V, § 15b(3).

Effective Date. In Oregon, the default effective date for a bill is January 1 of the following year. ORS 171.022. See generally Or Const, Art IV, § 28 (without an emergency clause, a bill cannot take effect until 90 days “from the end of the session”). This session, a bill without a specifically noted effective date in the text of the legislation will have an effective date of January 1, 2024.

Some bills, many of them from the legislature’s budget committee, the Joint Ways and Means Committee, will have an emergency clause. An emergency clause makes the bill effective upon passage, that is, when either the Governor proactively signs the bill or either 5 or 30 days have passed and the bill was not vetoed.

Other bills, for example, bills that raise revenue, can have an effective date of 91 days after sine die.

The fourth option is to have a specific effective date identified within the text of the bill. In some circumstances, different sections of a bill will have different effective dates. Also, some bills will have both an effective date and an operative date. In many circumstances, this is used to allow state agencies the opportunity to develop administrative rules.

Resources. Information on a bill can be found in the Oregon Legislative Information System. For bills passed during the 2023 Legislative Session, click on the “Bills” icon in the upper right-hand corner and enter the bill number. For a quick analysis of legislation tracked by the Oregon State Bar, look for the 2023 issue of Legislation Highlights, which will be published this fall.

Back to top

Upcoming Dates of Interest 

    • Wednesday, October 25, 2023. Celebrate Oregon Lawyers (The Sentinel Hotel, 5:00 – 7:00 pm).
    • Friday, October 27, 2023. House of Delegates Meeting (Oregon State Bar, 9:00 am).

Back to top


Thank you for reading the Oregon State Bar’s CAPITOL INSIDER.
The archives are available here.

2023 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair

Lee Ann Donaldson,
President, Oregon State Bar
David Rosen,
President Elect, Oregon State Bar
Kamron Graham,
Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Gabriel Chase,
Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors

For questions about articles, legislation, or the legislative process, please contact:

Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney

Back to top