While the legislative session may only run about four months each year, there are meetings, studies, and much more happening at the Capitol and here in the district year-round. In fact, preparation for upcoming session begins soon after we adjourn, and that continues to build in the interim until the next session arrives.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, the interim is the time period between the end of one legislative session and the beginning of another.
Keep in mind, once the session begins in February, our committees only have about four weeks to vote on the bills that have been introduced. On the Senate side alone, that can easily be over 1,000 pieces of legislation. There simply isn’t time to do deep dives and hold hearings dedicated to a single topic in order to gather additional information on complex topics.
That’s where interim studies come in. Shortly after the session ends in late spring, members begin researching areas they’d like to hold public hearings and in-depth studies on. They submit those requests to the Pro Tempore of the Senate. After he approves the submissions, they’re assigned to committees, and it is up to each chair to decide if the study will be scheduled, and how much time to give each topic.
Some of these studies are geared to be informational and educational, while others may help members formulate legislation that may help address some of the issues and concerns raised during some studies.
We’ve had interim studies looking at emerging transportation technologies like self-driving cars, the increased use of drones and drone-ports, electric vehicles and related issues ranging from safety and privacy concerns to liability issues.
Another study that’s already taken place examined how the state manages its buildings and properties and how to innovate these processes, staffing and resources. State-owned buildings are valued at $14 billion and are located throughout Oklahoma serving a wide variety of stakeholders. Years of deferred maintenance has caused a depreciation of state-owned assets and then costs more when the projects eventually are done. The goal of the study was to highlight how the current process of facilities management works and where improvements can be made moving forward.
Other interim study requests cover a range of topics from electronic devices in prisons, requirements for assisted living/memory care units, state services for children with Type 1 Diabetes, a study of workplace violence with medical professionals—there were more than 70 studies approved in all. It’s an interesting range of topics, and the full list is on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov under the tab that says “Committees.” If you are interested in any of the topics, the Senate streams those meetings live through our website.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.