In just the past couple of weeks, we’ve hit two major deadlines for moving bills through the Legislature and we’re quickly approaching a third. Feb. 25 was the deadline for most committees to complete votes. March 3 was the deadline for bills awaiting action in the committee I’m vice chair of, Senate Appropriations. After a full day of voting on bills on the floor Wednesday, we acted on another 38 measures in Appropriations, successfully meeting our deadline. The next deadline coming up is March 11, for votes in the full Senate on bills that started out in this chamber.
I’m happy to update you that a measure very close to my heart was approved unanimously by the full Senate this past week. Senate Bill 1 tightens state laws on scrap metal theft, but just as importantly, the Sgt. Craig Johnson Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act, is named in memory of the Tulsa police officer who helped create the bill but was later killed during a traffic stop. It’s a privilege to be able to honor his life and service through this legislation.
I’ve also authored a couple of bills this session dealing with a growing industry in our state and how we can capitalize on its success, and that’s television and film production. You may be aware that several productions in recent years have used locations right here in Senate District 20. “Reagan,” “God’s Not Dead 4,” “Street Outlaws,” “Stillwater,” “Harvest of the Heart,” “To the Stars,” and many, many others have taken advantage of our historic buildings and natural beauty.
According to Oklahoma’s Film and Music Office, in Fiscal Year 2020, productions spent over $32 million directly to Oklahoma crews and venders, creating 3,658 jobs for state residents.
For years, the Film and Music Office has been under the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. I have a bill that would move this office to the Department of Commerce. I think given the economic development aspect of this division; it simply makes sense for it to be in Commerce. The measure is supported by both agencies as well as the Film and Music Office.
Our state offers tax incentives to help attract film and television productions to our state. Productions drawn here include not only small independent projects, but several larger, studio-backed films and TV shows like the much anticipated movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Anytime we utilize tax incentives, we want to be certain we are getting the largest possible bang for our buck, and that’s the focus of another bill I’m working on this session.
Beyond that, I think a lot of Oklahoman’s enjoy having the opportunity to take a selfie with the stars these productions bring to our state. Speaking of stars, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest star in my family. On Feb. 4, I was getting ready to present a bill in committee when I received word of the arrival of our third grandchild, Landry Bishop Johns. It was a little hard to focus after that, but I shared my happy news with my fellow members. It was one of those memories in the Senate I’ll always remember.
This past Wednesday, I got to introduce Landry on the floor of the Senate—another moment I’ll always cherish. Our members certainly don’t agree on every bill that comes before us. But at the end of the day, I think all of us in the Senate agree one of the most important things in life is family, and I’m so grateful for mine and our newest addition.
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.