Although the state’s constitution mandates that the legislative session cannot get fully underway until February (with one organizational day in January following an election year) and requires our work to be completed by 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May, there is work going on at the State Capitol year-round.
Immediately following the end of the legislative session, our staff begins work on a comprehensive overview of the just-ended session, with explanations of the bills that were passed creating new law, as well as detailed information about all appropriations measures. These have been available online since 1997, and can be viewed or downloaded from our official website. Simply go to www.oksenate.gov then select the publications tab at the top of the page, and then go to the session summaries and select the year you’d like to review.
Another item of business that occurs during the months between sessions is the interim study. With only four months in the regular session, there often is not adequate time to consider more complicated measures. Interim studies enable us to hit the ground running by taking advantage of the interim to conduct in-depth hearings to gather information on specific issues—that information is compiled in reports which may result in the filing of legislation for the coming session.
Sometimes lawmakers file legislation calling for the creation of a task force or interim study to examine a particular issue, while other studies may be specifically requested by a member who submits his idea for a study to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate for consideration.
Twenty-four interim studies have been approved for this summer and fall at the State Senate, with topics spanning the areas of public safety, health, education, taxation and more. Studies range from a close examination of 911 funding to examining how to better ensure student preparedness for high school by elementary and middle school. We also will conduct a joint House/Senate study of all our current laws and rules aimed at stopping the scourge of methamphetamine, or meth.
If you would like to learn more about these studies, again, go to the publications tab on www.oksenate.gov and select interim studies where you will find a complete list of subjects and see what committees will be in charge of each study. You can also track legislation that is pre-filed for the legislative session and check on committee schedules throughout our website. I urge you to take advantage of this information as a way of staying informed and involved in the process—your interest and feedback help all of us do a better job of representing you at the State Capitol.
As always, I welcome your comments on state government. Please feel free to contact me by writing to Senator Charles Wyrick at the State Capitol, Room 530, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105; call me at (405) 521-5561.