The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature and upcoming bills and the terms to know.
Legislative Digest is back and ready to tackle another session of confusion, odd law proposals and political terminology you’ll almost never use in real life. This week, we’re looking at the schedule for Oklahoma’s legislative body. What do they do and when do they do it can be hard questions to answer. If you’ve ever wondered about the basics or upcoming bills (and even if you haven’t) we’ve got you covered.
The Oklahoma Legislature is set up like Congress, with a House of Representatives and a Senate. Oklahoma’s House has 101 members, all of whom are up for reelection every two years. The Senate has 48 members who serve four-year terms. State legislatures are separated into three categories: full-time, part-time and hybrid. Oklahoma falls under the hybrid category, meaning they work somewhere between the hours expected of a full-time and part-time job, and their pay generally reflects that.
Oklahoma’s legislative session convenes on the first Monday of February every year, in accordance with the Oklahoma Constitution. While the legislators don’t meet until February 5 this year, officials are expected to be organized and ready to go well before the first meeting. The first deadline they face is January 18 this year, at which point minor redraft requests, joint resolutions and Senate and House bills must be submitted or introduced. The session must officially end on or before 5 p.m. on May 25 this year, as the legislature only meets until the last Friday in May of any year.
There are over 1900 bills and resolutions already introduced between the House and the Senate. A bill needs 51 votes from the House and 25 from the Senate to pass and is then given final approval by the governor. Emergency clauses are the exception to this rule, requiring two-thirds approval from both chambers (or, 68 votes in the House and 33 votes in the Senate) . They are bills which become effective either immediately after the governor signs the law or at a specified date. These bills are useful because bills cannot become law until 90 days after the legislative session ends without being an emergency bill. The governor has five days to approve or disapprove of a bill. If the governor does nothing, the bill becomes law.
There are caveats and exceptions to the above rules and schedules, but generally, the legislature follows this process and these deadlines. There are contingency plans if anything goes wrong or deviates from the norm. Check back next week for the next Legislative Digest where, with these facts in mind, we’ll look at bills to keep an eye on in 2018.