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Lawmakers begin considering bills as new legislative session begins

Kriea Arie
Legislative Services Bureau
2024 State of the State Address

After Governor Kevin Stitt's State of the State Address, legislators began reviewing bills and joint resolutions in the Second Regular Session of the 59th Legislature.


Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider - taking you inside politics, policy, and government in Oklahoma. I'm Dick Pryor with Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley. The first week of the Second Session of the 59th Oklahoma Legislature is over. Shawn, what happened that was noteworthy in week one?

Shawn Ashley: The first bill filed for the 2024 regular session was heard and passed out of committee. House Bill 2946 was filed in June. It adds accessory to murder in the first degree or accessory to murder in the second degree to the list of crimes for which those convicted have to serve at least 85% of their sentences. It is now eligible to be heard by the full House. And really, the first law of the 2024 regular session was passed Thursday. It came when the House voted to override Governor Kevin Stitt’s veto of the bill that extended the sunset date for the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Without a valid sunset date, which the board did not have because Stitt vetoed the bill, the board would have had to shut down by July 1st. The Senate had voted to override that veto back in May, and with veto overrides in both chambers the new sunset date takes effect and the board can continue to exist.

Dick Pryor: Governor Kevin Stitt began the session with his annual State of the State Address. Much of the speech was aspirational. We both noticed it was light on policy proposals, which was consistent with his overriding theme - smaller government. Shawn, other than tax cuts what did you hear that the legislature could address this year?

Shawn Ashley: Speaking of Gail and Mike Priest, the founders of the 99 + 1 Foundation, who renovated an old nursing home into a home for young women aging out of foster care, Stitt noted the women they care for are some of the most at-risk for human trafficking. “It's time for legislation that protects our most vulnerable populations from those who seek to exploit them,” Stitt said. He also called on lawmakers to set up a system of courts specifically designed to address business disputes, like those in Texas and Delaware, and he encouraged legislators to address civil asset forfeiture that allows law enforcement, following a court proceeding, to seize money in property like cars and even homes alleged to have been used in certain crimes. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat noted lawmakers have yet to see specifics from the governor on those proposals.

Dick Pryor: Governor Stitt’s executive budget reflected his focus on flat budgets for state agencies and limited government.

Shawn Ashley: There are no new spending proposals in Governor State's budget. He does reiterate his call for an individual income tax reduction, and he lists more than $2 billion of one-time funding for special projects that he suggest be taken out of the state agency appropriations. The result would be about an $11 billion appropriated budget. Stitt also recommends depositing $1 billion of the state's savings from previous fiscal years in the Revenue Stabilization Fund, and he suggests amending state statute to allow that money to be spent if income tax collections cause a revenue shortfall. In addition to the current uses of a mid-year revenue failure or declining total revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

Dick Pryor: As for tax cuts, where does that stand?

Shawn Ashley: Really on hold, at least until the Board of Equalization meets on Thursday and considers the revenue estimate lawmakers will use to write the fiscal year 2025 budget. And Stitt sort of added a new wrinkle to the tax cut discussion in his State of the State speech, when he said, “I'll sign any tax cut that comes to my desk.” That seems to open the door for proposals like Treat’s to reduce the state sales tax on groceries to zero.

Dick Pryor: What else should we be watching for in week two?

Shawn Ashley: This is Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat's last regular session. He's term limited, so the Senate Republican Caucus will be choosing their Pro Tem-designate this Monday for the next legislature that will meet in 2025 and 2026. The President Pro Tem is the Senate's top leader and can really set the overall agenda and tone for the Senate.

Dick Pryor: Thank you, Shawn.

Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.

Dick Pryor: For more information, go to quorumcall.online. You can find audio and transcripts at kgou.org. And look for Capitol Insider where you get podcasts. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

Listeners like you provide essential funding for KGOU’s news reports, including Capitol Insider, available in podcasts, online and on the air. Information on how to contribute is at KGOU.org.

Dick Pryor has more than 30 years of experience in public service media, having previously served as deputy director, managing editor, news manager, news anchor and host for OETA, Oklahoma’s statewide public TV network. He was named general manager of KGOU Radio in November 2016.
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