Oklahoma Senator Bill Coleman R-Ponca City District 10
Capitol Considerations by Senator Bill Coleman
While most Oklahomans are busy checking off that Christmas grocery and gift list, we’ve been working with Senate staff on the nearly 1,700 bills that were requested for the upcoming session. This is a busy time for staff as they basically only have a little over a month to research and draft hundreds of measures. The filing deadline is Jan. 19, so there is no time to waste. As of Thursday, around 75 Senate bills and resolutions had already been filed. I’ll be filing my legislation in January.
We’ll be convening on Jan. 3 for an organizational day to vote on leadership and approve the rules for the 59th Legislature. I’m honored to have been appointed by President Pro Tem Greg Treat to serve as a member of the Senate leadership team as majority assistant whip. I’ll be responsible for working with members of our caucus to answer questions about particular bills and issues, understand their positions on major issues, and keep leadership informed of their positions.
I’m also pleased to have been appointed to serve as chair of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee and vice chair of the Public Safety Committee. My other committee assignments include the Retirement and Insurance and Rules Committees, along with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and the newly created OMES/ARPA Oversight Committee. I’ll also continue serving as a presiding officer, as well as on the Tax Reform Working Group, the Caucus Agenda Committee, the Legislative Rural Caucus, and the Jim Thorpe Building Repair Oversight Committee. I’ll have a full plate for sure but looking forward to it.
Speaking of committees, Senate leadership will begin going through the filed bills and assigning them to the committee tasked with overseeing that specific issue or area. As chairmen, we will then go through those bills assigned to our committees and decide which ones need to be heard. There is quite a bit of work that goes into preparing for session.
The appropriations committees will also begin meeting with their agencies to learn how they’ve been utilizing their current appropriations and to get their budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year. While work on the budget began this summer, this is just the next of many steps until it is finalized. The Board of Equalization will meet on Dec. 29 to provide their initial revenue estimate for the governor to use for his executive budget. These are his suggestions for the Legislature for how state funds should be appropriated. The board will then meet again in February to certify the actual amount available to the Legislature and then we’ll begin crafting the state budget.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!