Bill filing deadline
Ponca City Now - January 17, 2020 11:42 am
By Sen. Bill Coleman
The first major deadline of the session was Thursday for bill filing. Legislative staff and legislators stayed at the Capitol late into Wednesday evening to ensure we could have everything done by 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Last month, there were more than 3,000 bills requested by the Senate and House. After staff researched the requests and members worked with their colleagues on language, the number of bills filed dropped to just over 850.
Another nearly 2,200 bills carried over from last year that will also be up for continued consideration, as this is the Second Session of the 57th Legislature. Any bills that don’t receive a hearing this session will be considered dead and authors will have to file new bills for the 2021 session.
This year, I filed 13 bills that touch on numerous issues including CASA, special license plates, sales tax exemptions, certification of rehabilitation for offenders, the Oklahoma Open Records Act, prescriptive authority of certain Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and criteria for prescription of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes.
I’ll be discussing all my bills in more depth in the coming weeks. You can read them on the Senate website under Legislation.
The State Board of Equalization released its preliminary revenue estimate for the FY’21 budget last month. The Board certified more than $8.3 billion, a $9.3 million or 0.1% increase from FY’20. Looking at General Revenue Fund collections, the Legislature is expecting that number to remain flat or possibly decrease. GRF collections in December totaled nearly $632 million, which is just over $11 million or nearly 2% above December 2018 collections. However, the amount is less than 1.5% below the monthly estimate.
Oklahoma’s economy has slowed down drastically. This is even more obvious when looking at Oklahoma’s Gross Receipts to the Treasury, which includes all revenues remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Gross receipts throughout 2019 were nearly 6% more than 2018 but a marked decrease from the 2018 gross receipts, which were more than 13% higher than 2017.
The economic slowdown appears to be mainly from lower energy prices, which has caused a domino effect with other types of tax collections including sales tax, which have decreased six of the past seven months. Drilling activity has dropped 60%, natural gas prices are down by nearly 30% and oil prices have fallen by almost 25% since this time last year.
We’re looking at a flat budget year. Our appropriations subcommittees have continued meeting with their various agencies to hear their budget requests. We will take this information into consideration as well as the Governor’s proposed budget that will be presented on the first day of session. Once we get the certified revenue amount from the State Board of Equalization later next month, we’ll then begin crafting the state budget.
The past month has been hectic with meetings around the district and at the Capitol. I attended the legislative forum with the OML in Ponca City along with municipal officials from the area. We had a very good open discussion on issues affecting city governments.
I also met with area school superintendents, and we had a frank discussion about education and the teacher shortage. We’re going to see many education bills this session.
State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister, Sen. John Haste, State Chamber reps and I met to talk about efforts to recruit teachers to the state and how we can improve those numbers.
The Senate GOP Caucus recently met at the Capitol to discuss our goals for the upcoming session and to create a plan of action to achieve those goals. The caucus agenda will be released closer to the session.
You can contact me at the state Capitol by calling (405) 521-5581 or by email at [email protected].
MAKE IT COUNT OKLAHOMA! Census Day is April 1 and Oklahoma needs a full count. An undercount in the census of just 2% can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money over the next 10 years. Fill out your census form, Oklahoma. Learn more at: www.2020census.gov.