In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley catch up on the 2019 legislative session. Two notable bills authored by legislative leaders are now dead, indicating possible tensions between House and Senate leadership.
Dick Pryor This is Capitol Insider, your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics and policy. I'm Dick Pryor with eCapitol News Director Shawn Ashley. Shawn, Thursday was deadline day for bills to come out of committee to go to the opposite chamber. How many bills are still alive?
Shawn Ashley Well, you remember back in January we began with about 2,815 pieces of legislation, a record number. And it appears now there's about 500 or so bills that are ready to be heard on the floor of the House and the Senate. There are also a dozen or so bills that remain in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, which need to be heard by April 19th to then move onto the House. So that number has really been cut down.
Pryor It really has. What notable bills died?
Ashley Well you know in the legislature nothing really ever dies that's true. Probably the two most important pieces of legislation that failed to make Thursday's deadline were authored by the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem. And the fact that these bills did not move may indicate a rift growing between the House and the Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat has Senate Bill 1, which creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency.
Ashley LOFT. This is a primary component of the Senate Republican caucus' legislative agenda and a major focus of Senator Treat. And House Speaker Charles McCall has a bill that creates the Government Accountability Office, similar to what we see at the federal level. Neither of these bills were heard on Thursday in their respective committees. So presently those two pieces of legislation are dead, but the language itself could be placed in other bills and move later in the session. This comes after several days of maneuvering between the House and the Senate. So there's some sort of disagreement taking place between the House and the Senate, we just don't know exactly what it is or how severe it is.
Pryor Two teacher pay raise bills are still alive. How do you see this playing out?
Ashley Well, it's rather interesting. The teacher pay raise was added Thursday to the bill requiring schools to meet at least 165 days per school year. There is also a bill that is the teachers' pay raise alone that is moving through the legislative process. I think when all is said and done that $1200 dollar pay raise will be considered on its own, and the 165 day language will be considered separately and both bills will move forward.
Pryor: And teachers will likely get a pay raise.
Pryor: Will there be additional money that goes into the classroom funding formula this year?
Ashley: That was one of the issues discussed in the Senate Appropriations Committee when it took up the bill that deals just with the teacher pay raise. Both Republicans and Democrats said they were hearing from their constituents who are teachers that more money was wanted in the classroom, and you'll recall we talked with Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister about that very issue.
Pryor There's a bill on the governor's desk that would permit people with communication difficulties to disclose that on their vehicle registration so law enforcement can be aware. Tell us about that.
Ashley Unfortunately, there have been some incidents, at least one in the Oklahoma City area and others across the nation, where individuals with hearing difficulties or other communication disorders were stopped by law enforcement officials who were unable to properly communicate with those drivers, and in some cases that led to bad outcomes. This allows those individuals, when they get a license plate for their vehicle to indicate that they have these these hearing and communication difficulties, so when an officer pulls over one of those vehicles and "runs the tag," as they say, they will be notified that the driver of that vehicle faces these difficulties. So they will be able to approach them in an appropriate way and these possible bad situations can be avoided.
Pryor What are the next big things ahead?
Ashley Next we move to the House and Senate floor, where House bills will be considered in the Senate and Senate bills will be considered in the House. And this really sets the stage for the final push, sometime in late April and early May, towards adjournment, when we see that final list of bills that will be considered to possibly become law in the state of Oklahoma.
Pryor All right. Thanks, Shawn.
Ashley You're very welcome.
Pryor: That's Capitol Insider. If you have questions e-mail us it is at kgou.org or contact us on Twitter at @kgounews. You can also find us on mine. Page out of work in the Capitol. Until next time with Scott Ashley. I'm Dick Pryor.