Preparing for session
Ponca City Now - January 24, 2020 10:05 am
By Sen. Bill Coleman
Session begins soon, and I’m anxious to see what issues we’ll be tackling this year.
Gov. Kevin Stitt will kick off the Second Session of the 57th Legislature with his State of the State address on Monday. Again, he used the December revenue estimate from the State Board of Equalization to craft a budget proposal that he’ll present, along with any policy issues he’d like to see the Legislature address.
After his speech, we’ll convene for a brief session in the Senate Chamber before moving on to our committees, where we’ll spend most of our time the first month working through the 2,200 bills that were filed.
If you ever plan on visiting the Capitol, I strongly encourage you to check the agenda and calendar on the Senate website (www.oksenate.gov) as well as call my office ahead of time to ensure I don’t miss you. To outsiders, it might appear that the Capitol is a bit chaotic but I assure you, it’s very organized if you know the schedule.
Again, I serve on the General Government, Health and Human Services, and Transportation Committees as well as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Committees have set days and times for meetings. In the afternoons, we’ll convene for short sessions. Early in the month, it will only be to recognize groups and guests in the gallery and to make announcements, but as more bills are reported out of committee, we’ll start debating and voting on those measures on the Floor.
We have until Thursday, Feb. 27 to take committee action on Senate bills and then until Thursday, March 12 to complete floor action on all Senate bills. Any bill not acted on by a deadline cannot move forward and is considered dead for the session.
Remember, besides committee meetings, caucus meetings, floor sessions and meeting with groups and constituents from the district, I also have to work with my colleagues to educate them about my Senate bills and the House bills I’m coauthoring. Any spare time I have will typically be spent in my office returning phone calls, reading emails or meeting with constituents, organizations or other legislators on their bills. We also often get caught in the halls by various groups and individuals to discuss various issues.
I say all this just to warn you to check with my office if you’re planning on stopping by to make sure I’ll be available. I never want to miss seeing someone or waste anyone’s time.
In closing, it’s been a busy week. We had a Caucus meeting Tuesday and heard from the Governor on his Health Care plan that he’ll be releasing very soon.
I was saddened to learn that Sen. Jason Smalley from Senate District 28 has resigned to be the Senior Account Manager for the Motorola Solutions Corporation. This young man is extremely smart and has been a great asset to the state. He’ll be missed and we wish him and his family the best in his new venture.
Being that we’ve already filed bills, I offered to take over his SB 1158, which requires carriers that provide coverage for insulin to cap the total amount a covered person is required to pay for each covered insulin prescription at no more than $100 per 30-day supply, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill the prescription. Having insulin is a matter of life and death for many Oklahomans and it should be affordable. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this important measure and urge your support as well.
On Wednesday, I met with several people interested in my bills. I had a great meeting with the Assisted Living Community and the AARP to work on a bill addressing how anti-psychotic drugs are given to patients, especially memory care patients.
This week, I also attended the second annual Public Safety Forum presented by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. We received good information regarding continuing efforts to improve and reform our criminal justice system.
On Thursday, I spoke to the Kay County Republicans and on Friday, I spoke at Ponca Politics hosted by the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday, I’ll attend the Speakers Ball.
Being our last week before session starts, I plan on being in the district most of the coming week. If you have any thoughts, concerns or questions about any legislative matters, I’d love to hear from you.
You can contact me at the state Capitol by calling (405) 521-5581 or by email at [email protected].