This is a representative democracy so we get ideas for bills from the citizens we represent. So it’s very important that if you have an idea or a concern, please contact me and share it. Otherwise, I’ll never know about it and legislation may never be filed to address that particular issue you are concerned about.
The legislative sessions are only four months long. This year, we worked on over 2,100 bills not to mention working on the budget and we have to approve all the recommendations for the various commissions and task forces. Each year, we realize that some issues are just too large and require more time than we can dedicate to them during session. We also have situations where the House and Senate can’t come to a consensus on an issue during session. When this happens, we request interim studies.
Interim studies take place from July through December, and normally result in legislation. These are public meetings where the House and Senate bring in experts and private citizens who have knowledge or personal experience with the various issues. These individuals give presentations or talk about how they have been affected by a particular issue. The committee members then have the opportunity to ask them questions and, if needed, they’ll have the House or Senate staff conduct further research on the issues.
Committee members will then work to come up with a solution to the issue they were working on. If they can agree, together they will have staff draft a bill. Sometimes, legislators also have differing opinions as to how an issue needs to be addressed so we’ll end up with more than one bill on a particular issue. Our colleagues will then have the opportunity to decide for themselves what is the best way to address an issue and they’ll vote for that particular bill.
This year, the Senate will conduct 29 interim studies on a wide range of issues. These include capital bonds; water issues; in-state and out-of-state contractors; mental health; privatizing state parks; bail bondsman and insurance; workers comp; breast cancer programs; capital improvements; energy policy; rural fire departments; library funding; insurance; car tags; the state lottery; meth; uses of gross production tax revenue; courtroom security procedures; higher education; the problem of juvenile “sexting”; daycares; and senior nutrition funding.
This gives you an idea of the variety of issues that will be tackled this interim. A complete list can be found on the Senate website at HYPERLINK "http://www.oksenate.gov" www.oksenate.gov under “Committees” and then “Interim Studies”. There you will find a description of each study, who requested it and which Senate committee it will be heard in. On our homepage, you’ll also find the meeting notices which will have the day and times of the various meetings. Remember, those that take place in 419C and 511A can be viewed live from our website.
If any of the issues I mentioned are of interest to you be sure to see who requested it and which committee it was assigned to. If you’re able you can attend the meetings or contact the legislator (either by phone or email) who requested the study and let him or her know your stance on the issue. If you have had personal experience with an issue, they may even ask you to come discuss your experience.
In order to be able to draft the best possible legislation to address an issue, it’s imperative that each committee have as much public input as possible. So please feel free to contact me or members of the committee and share your knowledge or expertise.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (405) 521-5586.