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tatutes are like bridges,” explained David Kenagy, associate dean of the College of Law and executive director of the Oregon Law Commission. “If you appropriate money to build them, then you must also maintain them. The law is the same; it must be changed to stay current.” Kenagy said he believes the Commission fills a critical void in the lawmaking process because it provides a continuous and impartial program of law reform. Established in 1997 by the Legislative Assembly, the Commission is tasked with keeping Oregon laws up to date. Under this directive, law reform involves a number of activities: simplifying, clarifying, modernizing, and sometimes consolidating legislation. In addition to research and revision of existing laws, the Commission also proposes significant new laws not likely to be advanced by traditional interest groups.

Building Better Laws

“Most legislation is driven by economics,” Kenagy explained. “The Commission steps into those areas where there is no one to pay the fees involved in implementing law reform. For the Commission, the process is not driven by economics, but by expertise — by those people interested in making our laws better, making them work better.” According to Kenagy, the idea for the Commission was born of Hans Linde, a retired justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and a distinguished scholar in residence in the College of Law. Kenagy, however, became an early champion of the cause and proved instrumental in giving the concept legs. “When the

Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2005 • Vol. V, No. 2  
Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2005 • Vol. V, No. 2  

Willamette’s Pioneering Law and Government Program