The Oregon State Senate is the upper house of the statewide legislature for the US state of Oregon. Along with the lower chamber Oregon House of Representatives it makes up the Oregon Legislative Assembly. There are 30 members of the State Senate, representing 30 districts across the state, each with a population of 114,000. The State Senate meets at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
Oregon State Senators serve four-year terms without term limits. In 2002, the Oregon Supreme Court struck down the decade-old Oregon Ballot Measure 3, that had restricted State Senators to two terms (eight years) on procedural grounds.
Like certain other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the State Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to state departments, commissions, boards, and other state governmental agencies.
Oregon, along with Arizona, Maine, and Wyoming, is one of the four U.S. states to not have the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, a position which for most upper houses of state legislatures and indeed for the U.S. Congress (with the Vice President) is the head of the legislative body and holder of the casting vote in the event of a tie. Instead, a separate position of Senate President is in place, removed from the state executive branch. If the chamber is tied, legislators must devise their own methods of resolving the impasse. In 2002, for example, Oregon's state senators entered into a power sharing contract whereby Democratic senators nominated the Senate President while Republican senators chaired key committees.
Kathryn Clarke was the first woman to serve in Oregon's Senate. Women became eligible to run for the Oregon state legislature in 1914 and later that year Clarke was appointed to fill a vacant seat in Douglas county by her cousin, governor Oswald West. Following some controversy concerning whether West had the authority to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, Clarke campaigned and was elected by voters in 1915. She took office five years before the 19th Amendment to the US constitution protected the right of all US women to vote.
In 1982, Mae Yih became the first Chinese American elected to a state senate in the United States.
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of 75th legislature (2010)||18||12||30||0|
|Begin 76th (2011)||16||14||30||0|
|Begin 77th (2013)||16||14||30||0|
|Begin 78th (2015)||18||12||30||0|
|August 5, 2016||17||29||1|
|August 30, 2016||18||30||0|
|Begin 79th (2017)||17||13||30||0|
|Latest voting share||56.7%||43.3%|
During the 2011 legislative session, the House and Senate passed Senate Bill 989, which implemented new legislative districts for the 2012 elections and beyond.
The 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly, which holds its regular session from 2017 to 2018, has the following leadership: