Legislative days in December gave a quick look at how the 2023 Oregon Legislative Session might look like when it begins Jan. 17.
Public committee hearings will be in person for the first time since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic moved work at the Capitol and around the world online.
Oregonians will be welcomed into the Oregon State Capitol building through the south entrance on State Street but expanded remote access will continue, providing further access to Oregonians unable to visit the building in person.
Public welcomed indoors
The Oregon Legislature announced the reopening of the south entrance on Dec. 2.
The release cautioned the chambers will have a limited capacity due to ongoing and extensive Capitol renovations.
Construction is expected to continue until January 2025 as work continues on the yearslong Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance, and Safety Project. The project is aimed to address “serious seismic problems” reported in 2013 by the Capitol Master Plan Review Committee.
The project includes seismic retrofitting of the historic central portion of the building, a redesigned basement with four new hearing rooms, a new cafe area, and new stairwells from the first floor. There will also be an upgraded fire suppression system and a shared House and Senate lounge for lawmakers.
In the meantime, the south entrance — with a new wheelchair ramp — will provide entry and access to Hearing Rooms A-F and legislative offices. The hearing rooms were closed during the prior session while they were renovated with new carpet, lighting, drapes, paint and an HVAC system.
Visitors are allowed in the open areas during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Capitol will continue to have security screening checkpoints at all entrances. The additional security measures were implemented last January.
Remote participation continues
Anyone wanting to testify remotely will continue to be able to do so. The process will be largely the same as it was during the pandemic, said Beth Patrino, deputy director for Committee Services at the Legislative Policy and Research Office.
People hoping to testify remotely during the meeting will have to register in advance. Registration closes one hour before the meeting starts. A link to register or a toll-free number to call with a phone number and access code will be available on the agenda for the committee or subcommittee meeting.
More detailed instructions will be available at oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/How-to-Testify.aspx
If a person wants to submit written testimony, submissions are now integrated into the Oregon Legislature website.
Instructions are online at oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Submit-Exhibits.aspx.
Written testimony must be submitted within 24 hours of the start time of the committee meeting. A person will have to find the committee assigned to the bill and click on the “Click to Submit Testimony link.” The link will direct you to the Testimony Submission Form and direct you to choose a committee and meeting date. A list of all measures scheduled for a public hearing on the selected meeting date will appear.
Fill out the form. It will ask for first and last name, email address, organization or city of residence, who you are testifying on behalf of, and your position on the bill (oppose, support or neutral.)
Next, type or copy text directly into the text box or upload a pdf of your testimony.
After the entire form is complete, hit submit and wait for a “testimony submitted successfully” confirmation.
Exact instructions might change as the legislative session starts. Keep an eye on the website for further details.