Happy opening day of the 2023 legislative session!
Gov. Kevin Stitt will kick things off by delivering his fifth State of the State address at noon today, Monday, Feb. 6. For live updates throughout the speech, follow the Oklahoma Watch Twitter account. We expect to have a more in-depth analysis of the governor’s speech, which typically focuses on policy and state budget goals and usually lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, posted on our website later in the afternoon.
After today’s festivities conclude, lawmakers will begin the months-long process of whittling down more than 3,000 proposals. Senate committees will begin taking up bills as soon as tomorrow. Expect most House committees to start meeting next week.
The legislative process can sometimes feel daunting, even for a reporter paid to follow and cover it. Here are a few tips on methods to track and monitor bills as they move through the Legislature:
How to Track Legislation
The State Legislature’s website has an index of legislation filed, sorted by category, that you can use to identify bills.
To receive notifications for bills as they work through the Legislature, sign up for the state’s LENS system. You can customize the type of notifications you receive, ranging from being sent to the governor’s desk to having a floor amendment filed.
Legiscan’s database is useful if you want to search for bills using a keyword or phrase. You can also tweak the settings to see if lawmakers in other states are considering similar proposals.
How to Watch Proceedings
The House and Senate offer live streaming of proceedings on their respective websites. These streams are saved and archived for several years, so you catch up later if you miss a live proceeding.
The handouts tab in the top right corner of the stream will allow you to see what bills are up for consideration. For archived streams, the agenda tab will display the timestamps of when bills were debated.
How to Contact Your Lawmaker
Unlike some other states, Oklahoma legislative leaders have historically not allowed public comment before bills are voted on. But there are other ways for your voice to be heard.
Each lawmaker has an office phone number and email address used to communicate with constituents. You can also request to speak to your lawmaker in-person at the Capitol, but they could be in a meeting or tied up with another obligation, so it’s best to notify them in advance.
As always, I appreciate your feedback. What bills are you tracking? What issues do you want lawmakers to tackle this year? Let me know at Kross@Oklahomawatch.org.
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What I’m Reading This Week
- Legislation Seeks to Expand Gun Rights in Oklahoma: If every bill makes it through the legislative process, Oklahomans would be able to carry loaded guns into county or municipal buildings, college campuses and inside the state Capitol. [CNHI News]
- Drummond: Mike Hunter ‘Compromised the Integrity’ of AG’s Office with David Ostrowe Case: It’s unclear specifically why Drummond believes Hunter should have disqualified himself from the Ostrowe case, but Ostrowe has alleged that Hunter “weaponized” the state’s top law enforcement office by conducting “outcome-oriented” investigations. Ostrowe, the state’s former Secretary of Digital Transformation, believes his December 2020 indictment by the state’s multi-county grand jury was fundamentally unfair and dishonest. [NonDoc]
- Behind the ‘Grassroots’ Movement for Oklahoma School Vouchers Championed by Ryan Walters: Over the last several months, a group calling itself the “Oklahoma Education Reform Coalition” has held an out-of-state planning retreat along with monthly meetings, developed a detailed communications strategy, and worked to gain support among various parent support groups, all in the hopes of getting lawmakers to allow private schools to receive tax dollars. [The Oklahoman]
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