Recently, the Oklahoma Policy Institute released their 2016 Oklahoma Legislature Primer. This document provides an overview of 2015 in Oklahoma politics, including information about individual politicians and policy.
The House of Representatives, with 101 members, has been controlled by Republicans since 2004. Twenty-two representatives were elected from 2014-2015, 14 of whom were Republicans.
Nineteen members are term-limited in 2016, meaning they have run out their twelve-year term limit of any kind of legislative service. The Senate, with 48 members, is also controlled by Republicans. Twelve new senators were elected, 8 of which were Republicans. Eleven members are term-limited in 2016. The governor, Mary Fallin, is a Republican re-elected in 2014.
The 2015 legislative session was designated as the First Session of the 55th Legislature; 2016 will be the Second Session. Sessions last from the first Monday in February to the last Friday in May, unless a special session is convened.
In 2015, the Legislature considered 2,176 joint resolutions and bills. 214 Senate measures and 184 House measures became law. Seventeen measures were vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin, and only one of these vetoes was overridden by the Legislature.
In the 2016 session, most measures not acted on in the 2015 session will be discussed. The 2016 session will start with 1,724 measures from the 2015 session. In addition, 746 new bills and joint resolutions were filed in the Senate for the 2016 session, as well as 952 in the House.
Bills are first “read” into their respective legislative journals, which must be done by the end of February. During the second reading, bills are referred to committees for further discussion or debate.
Committees must then hear and may change the bill. During the third reading, which must occur by March 10, bills must receive a majority of support of the full membership to pass.
They are then sent to the opposite chamber, and will undergo the first, second and third reading. The third reading, in the opposite chamber of origin, must be done by April 21. From here, the author of the bill can either accept amendments and move to further readings, or reject the changes and send it to a conference committee. Once this process is done, Gov. Fallin can then sign or veto the bill.
During the legislative session, the state budget is also under consideration. In January, Governor Fallin submitted the executive budget for consideration. The legislature reviews and passes state agency budgets during its session. State agencies may either be paid for by state appropriated funds, federal funds or revolving funds, like fees and co-pays.
Based on December 2015 Board of Equalization estimates, the fiscal year 2015 will see a general revenue collection of $5.655 billion, which is $71 million less than FY 2015. The majority of this collection comes from personal income and sales.
Fiscal year 2016 appropriations, which are $6,962 million after January cuts, are $273 million less than the final fiscal year 2015 budget. Appropriations mainly come from general revenue, but also other sources, like the lottery and state transportation. Common and higher education take the largest of the appropriations of the 2016 fiscal year, with 35 and 13.5 percent. Medicaid also takes 13.6 percent of appropriations. For more information, visit the OK Policy Institute’s website.