Senate Update With Senator Bill Coleman, Ponca City
Beverly Cantrell - January 13, 2022 7:01 pm
Session To Do List–By Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, District 10
We’re racing to get everything in order for the Second Session of the 58th Legislature that begins on Monday, Feb. 7. Our focus right now is getting bills filed. At the beginning of last month, nearly 1,250 bills were requested in the Senate. My colleagues and I have been working tirelessly with staff since then to get those requests drafted and filed. Typically, not every request results in the filing of legislation, due to a variety of reasons, including multiple requests on the same topic, the need for additional study, or finding other avenues for addressing a particular issue that do not require legislation.
We have until next Thursday, Jan. 20 to wrap up work on our legislation.
When session gets underway, we’ll also have our carryover bills from last session to continue working to get through the process. I have seven bills remaining that weren’t voted down last session that are still eligible to be considered this year.
I have several new bills being drafted and have filed the first of those. Senate Bill 1233 clarifies that a retail spirits licensee may sell refrigerated or unrefrigerated beer, wine, or spirits on the licensed premises. This is needed because currently spirits are not allowed to be put in a refrigerator, just beer and wine. This is yet another step to modernize our liquor laws and help local businesses.
Our appropriations subcommittees have also been meeting with the agencies whose budgets we’re each responsible for to learn how they’ve been utilizing their current budget and to explain their Fiscal Year 2023 budget requests. Our Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation held our agency budget hearings last month. We met with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, State Election Board, Merit Protection Commission, State Auditor’s Office, Space Industry Development Authority, Military Department, Aeronautics Commission, State Treasurer’s Office, Department of Transportation, Ethics Commission and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Our committee also oversees the budgets for the Legislative Service Bureau, the Lt. Governor’s Office, the Governor’s Office, the House and Senate. Altogether these 17 agencies received more than $1 billion in FY’22, so it’s important that we understand what their financial needs are and how they’re using taxpayer dollars. We need to make sure that our state agencies are running as efficiently as possible and investing their funds into programs that truly help Oklahomans.
In other news, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and calls from people wanting to extend the Heartland Flyer north to Newton, Kansas. The new federal infrastructure bill includes funding to help create “rail corridors,” and I’m working to see how best we can secure some of that federal funding for this project in our district. In Ponca City, if you don’t own a vehicle, there are no other transportation options. It’s going to be a long challenging process, but myself and Rep. Luttrell will commit our time and efforts to hopefully connect Ponca City to the east/west routes of the Southwest Chief. Rail is a very affordable mode of transportation and hopefully we will see this expansion of the Heartland Flyer become reality.
If you have any questions or concerns about legislative matters, please get in touch with my office. You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]