Thursday, February 27 marked the deadline for Senate committees to vote on bills that started out in this chamber. By the time we hit that deadline, our committees had sent more than 400 bills on to the full Senate.
We are now quickly approaching the March 12 deadline for floor votes on those bills. Just this past week alone, we debated and voted on 175 pieces of legislation, and there are another 245 Senate bills that could still be considered in the coming days. So far this year, 230 Senate bills have been approved and sent over to the House of Representatives for consideration. We’ll likely have some very long days heading into the March 12 deadlines, but they’ll be very productive.
These deadlines apply to most bills dealing with public policy, but budget bills can be introduced later in the session. To be clear, we started working on the 2021 fiscal year budget long before the session began, but the actual budget legislation won’t be presented for votes for several more weeks. I’ll keep you updated on the process.
I also want to remind everyone that this month you’ll be receiving something in the mail inviting you to participate in the U.S. Census, a nationwide population count that happens every 10 years. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to complete their census form.
It only takes a few minutes, and this year, for the very first time, you can even do your census online. Here is why it’s so important for you to participate. Every year, the federal government sends hundreds of millions of dollars to communities throughout our state and across the country to help support core services like our public schools, hospitals, public safety programs, transportation and water infrastructure and more. Those dollars are based on population as determined by the most recent census. The bottom line is, if our population is undercounted, we miss out on much-needed funding.
Consider the fact that every person not counted in the census costs the state approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding for 10 years. An undercount of just two percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade.
It also impacts our communities in other ways. When businesses are trying to decide where to locate or expand, they rely on data from the census, so those numbers can impact your hometown’s ability to attract more jobs and boost economic development.
Census data is also used to determine each state’s representation in Congress and to draw the boundaries for state legislative districts.
Your participation will impact our communities and state for the next decade, so please be counted! For more information, go to 2020Census.gov.
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 Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.