Your bar section or committee is encouraged to have a legislative subcommittee which is involved in the legislative process. Some groups will be more active in the process than others, e.g., some will initiate legislation. However, all sections and committees are requested to monitor legislative activity in their respective area of expertise and to provide objective technical assistance. The BOG Policies on legislation .
Sections and committees should be prepared to provide technical analysis on key bills relating to their particular area of expertise. This type of assistance amounts to what the bar calls "law improvement." This includes reviewing proposed legislation or amendments for internal consistency and consistency with existing law, suggesting technical changes to better address the intent of the drafters, and preparing summaries and commentaries. Assistance from bar groups is invaluable because it is often more objective than the comments of the proponents who testify on the merits of a proposal.
When a section or committee provides input or feedback on a request, either from the bar or from someone at the legislature, it is important that public affairs staff is notified. This is particularly important if your section or committee wants to take a position for or against a bill. Also, if your group is interested in particular issues within your area of expertise, let us know so we can keep that in mind during the session.
If a section or committee decides to take a position on a bill, it must make a written request to the public affairs committee setting forth its position and how it is appropriate under the legislative guidelines established by the Board of Governors. See BOG Policies and Guidelines Section 11.800(A). The section or committee is then responsible for carrying the burden and presenting its position or testimony of that bill. See OSB Lobbying Guidelines.
Only positions that are designed by the public affairs committee as bar priorities are lobbied by public affairs staff. Bar priorities include major public policy and political issues and must receive BOGs public affairs committee approval.
The public affairs program is available to assist with fine-tuning section proposals. We appreciate being informed of executive committee or legislative subcommittee meetings dealing with legislative issues so that we can keep better track. This allows us to stay current on the status of individual projects. It also allows us to share information with various interest groups affected by the legislation.
Most of the legislation from bar groups goes through the judiciary committees of the legislature. Please encourage members of your group to maintain contact with their own legislators and any lawyer legislators with whom they are acquainted.
Oregon State Bar Public Affairs Staff
Public Affairs Assistant