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Bill Filing Completed With 1,700 New Pieces Of Legislation Ahead Of 2016 Session

Oklahoma State Capitol
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Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oklahoma lawmakers could potentially consider more than 3,400 hundred bills when they formally reconvene next Monday, although the nearly billion-dollar budget hole will likely dominate the session that starts Feb. 1.

A total of 1,725 new House and Senate bills and resolutions were filed by Thursday’s deadline, plus another 1,700 measures left over from 2015 could be considered. They cover everything from public education, to civil asset forfeiture, to more unusual requests, like requiring residents subscribe to their local newspaper.

The leaders of Oklahoma’s two chambers both praised lawmakers for meeting the legislative deadline.

“House members have been diligent during the interim studying issues and meeting with constituents, and now many of those ideas they have developed have been filed as legislation and are ready to be considered and debated,” House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman, R-Fairview, said in a statement. “Just like Oklahoma families and businesses do every day, legislators will be making tough decisions about priorities and sorting through wants and needs. I know our members are prepared for the hard work we were sent here to do.”

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, complimented Senate staffers for working under less-than-ideal circumstances. As the state Capitol undergoes a multimillion dollar interior renovation, many staffers were relocated throughout the building during the bill filing process.

“Our staff is always extremely dedicated and professional, even with the intense workload that comes with the approach of the bill filing deadline,” Bingman said in a statement. “Despite the massive move that has been underway in the last few days, that dedication and professionalism continued to be the standard as staff diligently worked with our members to complete the bill filing process.  As always, we are extremely grateful and appreciative of their efforts.”

The 1,725 bills filed represent less than 75 percent of the 2,410 measures House and Senate members requested. eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports that’s a relatively low number compared to last year:

Thursday's numbers do not include the appropriations bills that will be used to implement the fiscal year 2017 budget or those that may be filed to rewrite portions the FY2016 budget as a result of the revenue failure declared Dec. 30. Senators are free to continue to file bills under new rules adopted in 2015. Those rules also prohibited the filing of shell bills, measure without final or near-final language that could be used as a vehicle for new language or modifying existing law after the session was underway. . . . The House and Senate floor leaders now will assign the bills to committees to be heard during the first weeks of the legislative session. Neither the House nor the Senate has set its deadline for bills to be heard in committee.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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