Oklahoma state legislators, shown here in a 2018 file photo, have until May 27 to adjourn. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Oklahoma’s Legislature reached its unofficial halfway point last Thursday, which was the last day for House bills to pass off the House floor and for Senate bills to pass off the Senate floor.

Now both chambers will take up the measures that passed on the other end of the State Capitol.

While the closely watched Oklahoma Empowerment Act, a school voucher bill, failed during a dramatic late-night vote, plenty of impactful bills still are alive.

Among them is a package of tax-cutting House bills. I’m also keeping tabs on several election-related bills. This includes several proposals to make it harder for many state questions to pass, or get on the ballot.

We’ll also start looking for signs soon of a budget agreement. But lawmakers have a habit of publicly releasing, and then voting, on the state’s multi-billion budget plan in the last weeks, or days, of the session. The tax bills heading to the Senate will factor into the budget with the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts/lost state revenue.

We’ll soon see more legislative deadlines coming up. Here’s a look at the schedule for the rest of the session:

April 14: Deadline for House bills to advance out of the Senate committee they are assigned to and for Senate bills to pass out of House committee.

April 28: Deadline for all bills to pass third reading from the opposite chamber of origination.

May 27: Sine die adjournment. Lawmakers must finish up all their work by 5 p.m.

Let me know what bills you are watching at this point. Are there proposals you hope pass or fail? If so, email me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc and help guide our reporting over the next couple months.

Tweet Watch

The Senate’s vote last week defeating Senate Bill 1647, the school voucher bill authored by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, effectively killed its hopes this year. But Oklahoma lawmakers have a history of reviving proposal that were once thought dead. Whether it’s through a new bill or amending another bill out there, legislative leaders have several available tools.

Chances for passage are still low given the Senate’s vote and the unwillingness of House leaders to consider the bill. But a lot can happen in two months.

What I’m Reading This Week

  • A flood of early campaign ads signals the beginning of a long election season as Gov. Kevin Stitt seeks a second term in November. A fact-check of Stitt’s ads found half-truths and misleading statements. [The Frontier]
  • Stitt will get the final say on a bill that would block transgender athletes from competing in girls’ or women’s sports. [Oklahoman]
  • Democrat Abby Broyles, who drew national attention after admitting she blacked out at a sleepover for middle-school aged girls and vomited in a clothes hamper, announced Thursday she’s dropping out of the race for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District. [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an attorney’s attempt to stop a special election for the state’s soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat. The order from the court only addressed jurisdictional concerns and did not deal with the merits of the case. [Tulsa World]

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