Ongoing legislative work
Mike Seals - January 28, 2021 9:58 pm
By Sen. Bill Coleman
This coming week, we will kick off session. Each legislative body will convene in their respective chambers before meeting in a joint session in the House to welcome Gov. Stitt who will present his 2021 executive budget. As I mentioned before, his budget proposal will be based on the $8.5 billion initial revenue certification released last month by the State Equalization Board. The legislature will get the actual revenue amount we’ll have to craft the state budget later next month. The governor’s proposal are simply his ideas. The Legislature is constitutionally responsible for creating and passing the state budget.
Agency budget hearings are ongoing. The Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation wrapped up our budget hearings on Wednesday. As we’re facing an uncertain budget year, I’m pleased by the requests and believe them all to be reasonable. I’m also impressed by these agencies’ dedication and work this past year throughout the pandemic. Government is a never-ending process that must continue working to provide the many public services that Oklahomans depend on each and every day.
I’m honored that President Pro Tempore Greg Treat asked me to be one of six presiding officers this year. This means I will guide debate on the Senate Floor. Members do not address each other on the floor, but rather through the presiding officers as well as asking questions. This helps maintain a level of civil decorum that the Senate prides itself on and makes the process of debate go faster.
Now that all of the redistricting town hall meetings have been held around the state, it’s time for the legislature to begin work on redrawing the legislative and congressional district lines.
On Wednesday, Feb. 3, we’ll hold a joint Redistricting Committee meeting in Room 535 at 2:30 p.m. You can tune in at www.oksenate.gov by clicking Live Proceedings at the top of the page. We’ll hear from three speakers. Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax will be discussing what actions county election boards will take after the Legislature wraps up the redistricting process this session. Jari Askins, chief administrative officer of the state’s court system, will discuss district courts and redistricting. Lastly, Pontotoc County Commissioner Gary Starns will talk to us about the county commissioner redistricting process. Our House and Senate redistricting committees will then meet separately to vote on our chamber’s specific rules and guidelines for the redistricting process.
I want to close with a couple more of my bills. Again, you can read all of them on the Senate website.
SB 47 authorizes the destruction of court records relating to felony, misdemeanor, wildlife, traffic, juvenile, or civil cases provided the records of such cases are digitized, and the district attorney provided for computer storage of the files. This is an effort to help our court systems be more efficient as well as free up storage space, which can be costly for district courts.
SB 456 adds inmates convicted on counts relating to child abuse or neglect as well as inmates convicted of exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the list of persons deemed ineligible to be placed in the Electronic Monitoring Program. This was an oversight in our state law as the legislature has tried to address prison overcrowding, but these criminals need to serve their full time and stay behind bars.
Throughout February, we’ll be focused on hearing Senate bills in our committees, and the House will do the same for their bills. Our next deadline is Thursday, Feb. 25, at which time we must have our committee work wrapped up. Any bills not considered during that time, cannot be brought back up for consideration until the 2022 legislative session.
You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected].