Sometimes people ask why so many bills get filed at the start of a legislative session. Members sometimes are contacted by constituents about an issue or a concern that they feel could be addressed through legislation. Bill requests can come from agencies, from organizations, from communities, even from specific areas of business or professions. Sometimes issues that have been in the forefront in state government or that have been heavily covered in the news result in several bills dealing with the same subject being filed.
Once these measures are introduced and assigned to a committee, there’s a weeding-out process that takes place. Sometimes the committee chair may look at a particular measure and, based on his or her particular expertise, determine the legislation is not the best way to address a particular problem and decide against scheduling that bill for a vote. There are times when members realize other bills dealing with the same topic may be further along in the process and simply decide not to pursue their own legislation any further. Some bills that are heard are voted down by the majority of committee members.
Of those bills that are approved by the committee, not all are heard, and not all of those that are debated are approved. At each step in the process, the number of “live” bills is narrowed down.
This year, 1,061 Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions were filed ahead of the 2019 legislative session—keep in mind that’s the number for the Senate alone. By the time we hit our March 14 deadline for Senate bills to be heard in our chamber, the numbers were already significantly smaller. A total of 429 measures were approved by the Senate by the floor vote deadline, and two had already been signed into law by Gov. Stitt.
Now all the bills that have been approved by the Senate have been sent over to the House and vice versa—the narrowing down of live bills continues.
Our next big deadline is coming up on April 11, which is the deadline for Senate committees to consider bills sent over from the House of Representatives. The Senate will then have two more weeks after that to complete floor votes on House measures that cleared our committees.
In the coming weeks, you’ll also see the budget process taking center stage. Senate leaders actually began holding meetings on the budget shortly after the session ended last year. In the coming weeks, you’ll see the result of negotiations between leaders of both chambers and the governor begin to be finalized and see them presented in committee and on the floor.
Please remember throughout the session that you can look at committee and floor agendas and schedules on our website at www.oksenate.gov. You can pull up the latest version of bills, look at the summary of each day’s activity in the daily Senate Journals, and even watch and listen to streaming audio and video from our committees and from the floor. We also offer closed-captioning for all our live-streams.
I am honored to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. If you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 405-521-5541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.