Construction of Statutes

ORS 174.020
Legislative intent

  • general and particular provisions
  • consideration of legislative history



In the construction of a statute, a court shall pursue the intention of the legislature if possible.


To assist a court in its construction of a statute, a party may offer the legislative history of the statute.


When a general provision and a particular provision are inconsistent, the latter is paramount to the former so that a particular intent controls a general intent that is inconsistent with the particular intent.


A court may limit its consideration of legislative history to the information that the parties provide to the court. A court shall give the weight to the legislative history that the court considers to be appropriate. [Amended by 2001 c.438 §1; 2017 c.17 §16]

Notes of Decisions

Statutory construction is nothing more than judicial process of discerning and declaring intent of legislature. Fifth Ave. Corp. v. Washington County, 282 Or 591, 581 P2d 50 (1978)

Statute should not be construed to ascribe to legislature intent to produce unreasonable or absurd result. State v. Galligan, 312 Or 35, 816 P2d 601 (1991)

To extent required to resolve ambiguity, consideration is given in successive stages to: 1) text of statute and context provided by simultaneously enacted provisions in light of applicable rules of statutory construction; 2) legislative history; and 3) general maxims of statutory construction. PGE v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 317 Or 606, 859 P2d 1143 (1993)

Case law interpreting related statute relates back in time to form part of context within which legislation was passed. Gaston v. Parsons, 318 Or 247, 864 P2d 1319 (1994)

Court must consider legislative history offered by party, but weight to be accorded legislative history is determined by court. State v. Gaines, 346 Or 160, 206 P3d 1042 (2009)

Law Review Citations

61 OLR 421 (1982); 31 WLR 179 (1995); 32 WLR 1 (1996); 76 OLR 47 (1997); 44 WLR 615 (2008); 97 OLR 585 (2019)


Last accessed
May 26, 2023