Work continues at the state Capitol ahead of the 2022 legislative session. For the past several weeks, various Senate committees have been holding interim studies. Once we are in session, each committee meeting may involve debate and votes on dozens of bills—there simply isn’t time for the deep-dives required for more complex issues. Interim studies, which are usually held in the late summer and early fall, give us ample time to hold in-depth hearings on these topics. Some studies may result in legislation being filed to address a specific issue, while others may be simply informational.
I was granted permission this month for a study, co-hosted with Senator Julia Kirt, of Oklahoma City, looking into film and media arts programs for primary and secondary students to help better prepare those who may be interested in the expanding opportunities in our state’s growing film and music production industry. Other studies have covered a range of topics, such as criminal justice reform, pandemic workforce issues, and the renewal process on agriculture sales tax exemptions, to give a few examples.
Even as the studies wrap up, members are already beginning to file legislation to be heard when the 2022 session begins on February 7. While interim studies may help legislators formulate ideas for legislation, sometimes the concept for a bill may come from individuals in our districts, communities, organizations or even state agencies. Sometimes we must update state laws to maintain consistency with changes at the federal level, such as raising the age for buying and using tobacco products to 21, which was an initiative of President Trump’s administration.
Members work closely with Senate staff to prepare bills for filing, to ensure proper legal wording and to identify the correct place in the statutes, our existing state laws, for placing their proposed change. This year we have until December 10 to notify staff that we intend to request a bill, and then we will have until January 20 to finalize the language and file the legislation ahead of the session.
It’s also important to note that each “Legislature” consists of two legislative sessions, which run from the first Monday in February and must adjourn no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May. The 2021 session was the first of the 58th Legislature, and 2022 marks the second. Under our rules, legislation that was introduced during the first session, but was not heard or did not make it all the way through the process, can still come up for a vote during the second session.
In addition, we are starting to receive budget requests from state agencies ahead of the 2022 session. As vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m working closely with our chair, Senator Roger Thompson, to review these requests as they are received.
We may not be in session yet, but it’s still a very busy time of year at the state Capitol.
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.