Legislative Session Begins
By Rep. Mike Dobrinski
The First Session of the 59th Legislature got underway Monday, Feb. 6.
Our first order was to convene a joint session of the House and Senate to listen to the governor’s fifth annual State of the State address.
The governor outlined some of the successes he and the Legislature have been able to accomplish over the past four years. These include an economy that is now the third-fastest growing in the nation with over 23,000 jobs created. We’ve cut personal income taxes and those for business owners. We’ve focused funding on education and infrastructure while keeping government small. We’ve supported law enforcement, veterans, the unborn and families.
Of particular interest to those in rural areas was the governor’s acknowledgement of over a billion dollars being invested into the state’s health care system with another $700 million on its way to improve rural hospitals and expand primary care across Oklahoma. He also mentioned federal funds that are headed to the state to add shoulders to rural highways.
The governor called for additional tax cuts. That is something House leadership is already working to deliver as Oklahomans continue, with the rest of the nation, to struggle with inflation. We’re also committed to increasing funding for education, though there are some differences between the executive and the Legislature on how money should best be distributed. There’s not a lot of appetite in the House for sending public school funding to private schools. We have instead passed open transfer laws and revised the school funding formula to better follow the student. These give parents better education options if they need them. We are, however, very interested in legislation that will improve student outcomes, particularly in areas such as reading.
As we begin hearing legislation in committees over the coming weeks, we’ll get a better picture of which of the governor’s priorities actually match those of the Legislature. Once bills pass committee, they are eligible to be considered by the full body of representatives on the House floor.
The House and Senate filed more than 3,000 pieces of legislation in advance of the session. Many of those bills will not make it through the process. In fact, only about 400 bills get signed into law each year. Some of this legislation will get killed right here at the beginning of session if it doesn’t get assigned to a committee. Other pieces will never be heard on the floor. But we still have much work to do.
It will prove an interesting year. I’m glad things have started.
In the meantime, if I can help you with something, please do not hesitate to reach out. You also can follow regular updates on my House Facebook page or call or email anytime at (405) 557-7407 or Mike.Dobrinski@okhouse.gov.
In your service,