The First Session of the 59th Legislature begins at noon Feb. 6 with the governor delivering his annual State of the State Address. The governor will outline his hopes for the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. It’s up to the Legislature, however, to determine appropriations for state agencies to fund programs and services for Oklahomans.
Early estimates show the state has about $13 billion in revenue, including more than $3.3 billion in savings. The Board of Equalization will meet in mid-February certifying its final revenue estimate for how much we will be able to appropriate for the next fiscal year. It’s really nice to have a surplus, but the requests for how to spend this money are coming in thick. We want to be able to return some of this money to state taxpayers, and have multiple pieces of legislation aimed at cutting income and other taxes.
Representatives and state senators filled 3,079 bills and joint resolutions for this first session. This is 39 more measures than were filed for the First Session of the 58th Legislature. Once bills are first and second read in their chamber of origin – which should happen the first week of session – they can be assigned to committees. We have a number of shell bills filed that serve as placeholders as substantive language is being worked on or for issues that may arise later in the session.
The speaker of the House and the president pro tem of the Senate may file bills at any time. Budget bills are filed toward the end of session.
While we’ve filed a large number of bills, only about 400 generally make it through the entire legislative process to be considered by the governor to be signed into law.
The House has 29 regular standing committees this year and 10 Appropriation & Budget subcommittees.
Of these, I am vice chair of the A&B Subcommittee for Resources, which includes natural resources, such as the Departments of Agriculture, the Water Resources Board and many others, and regulatory services, such as the Corporation Commission. I am also on the Agriculture Committee and the overall A&B Committee.
Once session gets underway, we will have until Feb. 27 to pass bills out of subcommittee and until March 2 to pass bills out of regular standing committees. Then we’ll have until March 23 to pass bills out of the House.
Once measures pass in the House they advance to the Senate where they go through the committee process. They must pass the full Senate before they are sent to the governor for his consideration of signing them into law. The same process applies to Senate bills that are sent to the House. Our work must conclude by 5 p.m. May 26.