The week in review: March 31, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

Lawmakers returned to committee work this week to begin hearing the 661 bills surviving the March 23 deadline. Bills have to be passed out of the committee of the opposite chamber by April 13. The deadline for bills assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee is April 20.

Although the legislature has made its way through the first half of the 2017 session, resolution of some of the major issues—including the budget—has yet to be reached.

The House changed its approach to the budget process to more closely mirror the Senate’s. House members sit in on committees they are not members of to provide them with a full picture of the entire budget situation. All members of the Senate serve on the appropriations committee.

A few appropriations bills have made their way out of the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget and the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget despite some questioning about the withdrawals made from the Rainy Day Fund.

Governor Mary Fallin has set the dates for two special elections to fill a House seat that will be vacated by Rep. Scott Martin on May 31 and the Senate seat left empty due to Sen. Ralph Shortey’s resignation. The special primary election will be held on July 11 followed by the special general election on Sept. 12.

Legislation Summary

HB2132, a priority measure for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee. A hearing has not yet been set. The bill authorizes the governor to enter into prosperity compacts and sets forth the compact requirements and limitations. 

Two other measures important to the Conservation Coalition received committee assignments, SB0075 and HB1537.

  • SB0075 has been assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Select Agencies. A hearing has be scheduled for April 5. The bill expands the scenic river designation on the Illinois River. 
  • HB1537 has been assigned to the Senate General Government Committee. 

Two other measures passed out of committee this week.

  • SB0147 passed the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Authored by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Casey Murdock, the bill modifies the Oklahoma Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Act. It allows municipalities to issue a waiver of the setback requirements for animal feeding operations and extends the waiver to changes in ownership of the property.  The bill is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.
  • SB0586 passed the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Finance. The bill reauthorizes the income tax check-off contained in the Wildlife Diversity Fund. The bill will now go before the full Appropriations and Budget Committee.

A complete list of measures monitored for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is available here.