Bombshell: Lawmaker bills violate public readability laws

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Both Senate Republican lawmakers and State Representative lawmakers are exposing the State Legislature for passing bills that are crafted so obliquely and confusing that the common person cannot understand them and that they violate readability laws that are in State Law designed to protect the public from stealth bills.

It turns out that the highly controversial HB 2002 (anti-parental rights bill dealing with abortion, minors sex change surgeries, etc.) is being challenged by lawmakers for violating the rules.

ORS 174.134 reads, “Readability test for legislative digests and summaries. Any measure digest or measure summary prepared by the Legislative Assembly shall be written in a manner that results in a score of at least 60 on the Flesch readability test or meets an equivalent standard of a comparable test. [1979 c.270 §1]”

Today in the Senate, several State Senators objected that HB 2285 violates this rule.   The Senate Republican Leadership stated ” Senator Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) made a point of order on the Senate floor that HB 2285 fails to meet readability standards laid out in subsection 5 of Senate Rule 13.02 and Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) ORS 171.134. This bill, and many others, are unlawful and we will not pass them.Article IV, Section 21 of the Oregon Constitution requires every legislative act to be “plainly worded, avoiding as far as practicable the use of technical terms”. Subsection 5 of Senate Rule 13.02 requires all measure summaries to comply with ORS 171.134 which requires all measure summaries prepared by the Legislative Assembly to “be written in a manner that results in a score of at least 60 on the Flesch readability test.”

The Flesch (60 score) test means Oregon bills must be summarized in language that an 8th grader could understand.

As a result, both Senate and House chambers had to deal with this rule violation today.   Both the Senate President and House Speaker arrived at a conclusion later in the day, ignoring the readability test (not by demonstrating it) just by saying that in their personal Legislative opinion they haven’t violated any rules.

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