The work at the Oklahoma State Capitol does not abruptly end for incumbents after May’s adjournment.
Lawmakers have the opportunity to request “interim studies” as a way to research ideas which they are considering for future laws, or review the success of previous bills which became law. Both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the State Senate allow lawmakers the chance to request these studies, which are then either approved by the presiding officers of the respective bodies or denied a hearing. The studies that are approved are supported by staff resources, and requestors can bring in outside speakers to promote their agenda.
Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat recently released a list of approved 2018 interim studies. A total of 43 requests were approved.
Speaker Charles McCall approved 63 interim studies after receiving 136 study requests from House members. Thirty-two requests were either withdrawn by the requester or disapproved, while many were combined. In 2015, the last non-election year, 76 studies were approved.
The approved studies will cover a range of topics from criminal justice reform and education to school bullying. Sen. Treat requested an interim study on the development of a legislative budget office, which would provide additional data and resources to state lawmakers. Speaker McCall has requested a study which would look to revise the Open Meeting Act for the state.
OICA was pleased to work with lawmakers to request studies examining issues surrounding Oklahoma’s children, several of which were approved for hearings. The two primary studies which we will have a part of will be the study on adverse childhood experiences, requested by Sens. Greg McCortney and Kay Floyd, along with a separate study to review school suspension practices, requested by Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman.
Other studies will be monitored by OICA so we can report back to you what transpires. Some studies that OICA will watch closely include Reps. Emily Virgin’s and Mark Lepak’s examination of juvenile life without parole, the review of DHS foster care practices by Reps. Rhonda Baker and Cyndi Munson, safety and security in public schools by Rep. Mark McBride, the study of child custody and parental notification by Sen. J.J. Dossett and a study on suicide prevention best practices by Sen. Kevin Matthews.
Committee chairs for the standing committees in which the studies were assigned will now determine the dates and times for holding interim studies, which can begin Aug. 1 and must be completed by Nov. 8. If you have a specific study which you would like to follow, please contact the author or requestor of the study and have their office add you to the distribution list.
We hope to see many of you there, joining us as legislators learn more about these important issues!