PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Already on Monday, 1,820 Senate and House bills were listed on the Oregon State Legislature’s website awaiting their first reading by lawmakers. The 2023 legislative session starts Tuesday.
While 1,820 might seem like a lot of bills, state officials said this is not unusual for the start of a session. In fact, that number will likely grow ahead of the February 21 filing deadline.
Democratic Sen. Lew Frederick, of District 12, estimates lawmakers will consider an estimated 4,000 bills.
Each of them will get a first reading and be assigned to a committee, but not all bills will return to the floor for a third reading and final vote, explained Tess Seger, spokesperson for the Senate majority office.
Once a bill is referred to a relevant committee, the chair of that committee is responsible for scheduling a public hearing on it. If a hearing is scheduled, then the committee decides if they’ll hold a work session on the bill.
Seger said not all bills will receive a public hearing and not all bills that receive a public hearing will have a work session.
“Bills must go through a work session to get a vote on the Senate floor. So, a bill has to clear multiple hurdles ahead of it actually being voted on the floor,” she said.
The caucus agenda will be released next week and Senate committee chairs will use it to determine which bills are priority in passing through committees.
Frederick said that the legislative priorities will vary on issues from education, public safety, homelessness and housing.
“Healthcare continues to be an issue, especially dealing with mental health, and how we recruit, retain and support the folks who are dealing with mental health issues throughout the state,” Frederick told KOIN 6 News. “And getting the staffing for people to be able to talk with folks about addiction and alcohol support issues.”
Seger said the Senate majority plans to prioritize an immediate, coordinated response to the homeless and housing crisis. She said lawmakers want to ensure Oregonians feel safe in their communities, and that they have the jobs and the resources they need to keep up with rising prices.
Oregon House leaders plan to discuss their top priorities for the 2023 legislative session at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. House Speaker Dan Rayfield, House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson and House Majority Leader Julie Fahey will speak at the event.