By Rep. Mike Sanders
House Speaker Charles McCall approved 31 interim studies for the House this year. Fifty-seven studies were requested by various representatives. Two studies were withdrawn by their authors; leaving 55 to stand alone or be combined by topic into one study. Each study has been assigned to a House standing committee. It will be up to the committee chair to schedule the studies, which generally are held August through October.
Interim studies give lawmakers more time to examine issues brought by constituents, state agency heads or other groups or even ideas which they themselves are considering making into law. It gives us time to bring in outside experts and ask questions so we know all sides of an issue, the pros and cons, before we proceed with drafting legislation.
The legislative session operates on a compressed schedule that begins with a flurry and maintains the hectic pace for 120 days. The more than 3,000 bills filed on average annually face tight deadlines – when they must be filed, be heard in committee, be heard in the chamber of origin and then be heard in the opposite chamber before being sent to the governor to be signed into law.
This is why interim studies are helpful. They happen at a slower time of the year, when the Capitol is not as packed, and they give lawmakers and the public more time to work through any undesired consequences of potential legislation with experts on hand to answer questions.
Here's a quick look at a few of the studies that have piqued my interest so far and the committees which will consider each issue:
- A look at moving full-time Oklahoma deputy sheriffs from a defined contribution retirement plan to a defined benefit retirement plan; Banking and Business.
- A look at Oklahoma State employees' health benefit allowances; Insurance.
- A study on safety and security in public schools; Common Education.
- A combined study of Oklahoma's underperforming schools and the effectiveness of turnaround models being utilized in Oklahoma and other states, and addressing issues to aid in improving the effectiveness in public education; Common Education.
- A combined study on state fees on municipal surface transportation program grants and the governor’s Oklahoma United We Ride Council; Transportation.
- A look at how DHS has allocated and used federal funds given to OK. What state funds are for improving Child Care, both number served and quality of care; Children, Youth and Family Services.
The public is welcome to attend any of the studies. You also are welcome to send me any questions or opinions you have about any study.
Use this link to see a full list of the House interim studies for this year: https://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/ShowInterimStudies.aspx. A few studies already have times, dates and committee rooms assigned. Others will appear on the calendar as they are scheduled.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or (405) 557-7407.