During the first six weeks of the session, the Senate and House both focus on the bills introduced in their chambers. They’re introduced, and then the committee chairs decide which bills they’ll allow to be heard and voted on—that is the first step of narrowing down the bills that will actually make it all the way through the process. Bills that have been approved by the various committees then proceed to the full chamber for another round of votes.
Thursday, March 11, was the deadline for the full Senate to vote on measures that started out in our chamber. Of about 1,050 Senate bills and joint resolutions filed, just over 450 made it through committees and off of the floor, including more than a dozen measures I authored this session. All those bills now start the process over again in the House, and in the coming days our committees will be working through the bills they passed by that March 11 deadline.
Any bills that were introduced this session but did not receive a hearing in committee or on the floor can still be brought back up in the 2022 legislative session. In addition, there are some kinds of legislation that aren’t subject to those deadlines, including bills dealing with appropriations, redistricting, and bills introduced by the leaders of the Senate and House.
Another type of legislation that can be introduced and considered throughout the session has to do with measures that don’t have the impact of law, but they do express the will of the majority of a chamber regarding particular issues—these are called resolutions. There are simple resolutions, which only are heard by the chamber they are introduced into, and concurrent resolutions which are heard and voted on by both chambers.
One important example of a simple resolution was one we voted on this past week—Senate Resolution 9 was a way for the Oklahoma Senate to express our deep opposition to a bill making its way through Congress. Our resolution urges the U.S. Senate to reject H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2021,” which we believe is nothing short of a federal takeover of state elections. State legislators cannot vote on bills moving through the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, but through resolutions, we can clearly voice our views on federal legislation.
Oklahoma has one of the most efficient, transparent and ethically run election system in the entire country. While other states were still counting ballots for days and days following last November’s general election, Oklahoma’s votes were tallied that night. We’ve enacted laws and processes to protect election integrity against widespread fraud, assuring our citizens that their votes do indeed count.
The U.S. Constitution directs that the state has the power and authority to conduct elections. The federal legislation contained in H.R. 1 would increase the potential for voter fraud by mandating nationwide automatic voter registration and Election Day voter registration. It would also enable non-citizens and others who are ineligible to vote to cast fraudulent ballots. It would also remove accountability from the process of congressional redistricting by taking that responsibility away from state legislatures and tasking independent commissions with that job—these would be appointed positions with absolutely no accountability to the voters.
I strongly disagree with this attack on our election process and voted with my fellow Republicans in this body in calling on the U.S. Senate to defeat this measure.
Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.