How Salemites can testify during the 2023 legislative session

As state legislators get to work on Jan. 17, Oregonians have an opportunity to testify at the Capitol.

People can sign up to speak or provide written testimony during the 2023 legislative session by visiting the Oregon Legislative Information System website and searching for a specific bill or committee meeting.

Registration can only be done online, meaning paper sign-up sheets won’t be available in the main hall or committee rooms as they were during sessions before the pandemic.

Those interested in giving spoken or written testimony can search by a bill or committee in the top-right corner of the main page of the Legislature’s website and click “Submit Testimony” to check if registration is available.

All committee hearings will be held in person but allow virtual testimony, according to Beth Patrino, environment and natural resources analyst for the state Legislative Policy and Research Office. 

Registration opens for a bill as soon as it is scheduled for a public hearing. It closes 30 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin for spoken testimony, and 48 hours after the meeting begins for written statements, Patrino said.

There will be nonpartisan staff in committee rooms to assist people who need to sign up if they don’t have access to an electronic device. People can also get help registering or submitting testimony at the visitor center desk, as well as a nearby office with an open window in the same hall, Patrino said.

Most bills don’t yet have registration available. The House Committee on Rules has five hearings scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 1:40 p.m. and two hearings Thursday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m., with testimony open. 

There will be a 30-minute gap between committees so the room can be cleaned, and because committee staff need extra time to set up virtual meetings for remote testimony, according to Legislative Administrator Brett Hanes.

This 2023 session will be a long session, which typically run about six months. Legislators are responsible for passing a budget for the next two years of state government spending.

The Oregon State Capitol’s south entrance on State Street reopened to the public in December after five years of construction.

The main revolving door entrance on Court Street remains closed for ongoing construction. The central section of the Capitol closed in July and isn’t expected to reopen until January 2025 as the building undergoes seismic and accessibility improvements.

Accessible entrances are also open for the west wing on the House of Representatives side and the east wing on the Senate side.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.