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Senate adopts rules on legislation transparency

The Oregon Senate adopted a new rule Monday, Feb. 3 — the opening day of the 2014 legislative session — that will require a one hour waiting period between the posting of an amendment to a bill and calling for a vote on that amendment.

The new policy is touted as increasing access to bill amendments and promoting transparency of the legislative process for the public and members of the news media.

The rule was proposed by Senate Republicans.

“The legislative process works its best when citizens are active, informed and empowered to influence proposals for new legislation,” said Sen. Olsen, R-Canby, who represents Senate District 20, which includes Estacada, Damascus and Eagle Creek. “This new rule ensures that Oregonians will have more opportunity to read and comment on amendment proposals in the hectic legislative process.”

In the past, legislative committees have convened, unveiled sweeping changes to a proposed bill and called for a vote within a matter of minutes. This forces lawmakers to vote on legislation they haven’t had a chance to read and prevents the media and the public from participating fully in the process.

“Taking a one-hour time out so members and citizens have a chance to read and understand an amendment sounds simple, but it hasn’t been standard practice in some committees,” Olsen said. “I believe this new rule is another way to empower citizens to engage with their legislature and to allow for fuller examination of the legislative process.”

Olsen also would like to see legislation that would require proposed amendments to have a name attached to them, rather than the current practice of introducing them anonymously.



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