Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session kicked off two weeks ago with Governor Fallin’s State of the State address. Sessions began at noon on the first Monday in February and must adjourn by no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last Friday in May. Here are the basics to prepare you for another year of Oklahoma government.
House of Representatives
There are currently 101 state representatives.
The partisan makeup of that sum is 75 Republicans, 26 Democrats.
There are 32 “freshmen” representatives, meaning those recently elected for the first time. The partisan makeup of those officials is 25 Republicans, 7 Democrats.
Majority leadership includes Speaker Charles McCall, Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright and Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols.
Minority leadership is Scott Inman and Eric Proctor (Represents District 77 in Tulsa, which is near campus, starting just east of Harvard).
District 72, which includes TU’s campus, is represented by Monroe Nichols (D).
The Executive Branch
Under Governor Mary Fallin there is a team of elected officials, including:
Lt. Governor Todd Lamb
Attorney General Scott Pruitt (who resigned his position in order to lead the EPA in Trump’s administration. It is unclear who will be filling his position in the interim until the next election)
State Treasurer Ken Miller
Insurance Commissioner John Doak
State Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones
Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston
Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister
Corporation Commissioners Bob Anthony, Todd Hiett and Dana Murphey
There are currently 48 senators.
The partisan makeup of the senate is 42 Republicans, 6 Democrats.
There are 13 “freshmen” senators, all of whom are Republican.
Majority leaders are President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat.
Minority leadership is John Sparks and Anastasia Pittman.
District 35, which includes TU’s campus is represented by Gary Stanislawski (R).
New bills can come from a variety of sources, including by request of a government agency or local government, by request of an interest group, by request of a constituent, from national model legislation (e.g. NCSL, ALEC), directly from the Governor, directly from a legislator’s interest or from an interim study (a study conducted by a committee out of session).
All bills must be requested and introduced by a legislator. The deadline to request a bill was December 9, 2016 and the deadline to introduce a bill was January 19, 2017. Interestingly, House members were able to file “shell bills” without substantive language as a placeholder to be filled in later. Shell bills are prohibited in the Senate. This year, 878 new bills and resolutions have been filed in the Senate and 1,364 have been filed in the House. Senators and Representatives now have until March 2 and 3, respectively, to get these bills out of committee and ready for presentation on the floor.
More Information for You
If you are interested in more information, here is a brief list of helpful online resources to stay up to date on what is happening in the state:
The Oklahoma Legislature Home Page (www.oklegislature.gov) has links to House and Senate homepages. You can also look at specific legislation for its status, wording and intent and search OK statutes and the Constitution if you want to see the current laws on the books.
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services provides the Governor’s annual budget and certification estimates which you can see by visiting www.ok.gov/OSF/.
Monthly revenue reporting is available through the State Treasurer’s Office which can be found at www.ok.gov/treasurer/.
All other state spending and budget info can also be found at www.ok.gov/okaa/.
At www.okpolicy.org you can find The Online Budget Guide, the CountySTATS Data App, Bill Tracker and the OK Policy Blog.
Together Oklahoma (www.togetherok.org) provides advocacy tips and advice on how to talk to your legislators.
And, as always, you can look to us here at the Collegian to help walk you through new bills that catch our eye throughout the legislative session. Our website is www.tucollegian.org.