With the close of the 2018 legislative session, state senators and representatives have returned to their home districts. People often forget that, although our local lawmakers serve in a part-time legislature, their work with constituent services and within their home area will continue throughout the year. As a legislator, I often had the pleasure of attending chamber functions, school functions and charitable events that supported various local programs. After two regular sessions and two extraordinary sessions, I know that lawmakers are ready to be back with their families. In addition, it is campaign season for most, so they want to be around their voters to make their case and explain why they should be reelected.
Even with the break, there is still some work to be done at the Oklahoma State Capitol. During the summer and fall months, lawmakers will return for special meetings requested by individual members to look into issues through committee-based interim studies. These requests will require legislative staffers to work with members to delve into topics which are of special interest to constituents. They can be on any issue, whether it be a previously-passed law or a potential idea for a future bill.
The deadline for members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to file interim study requests is Friday, June 8. In the opposite chamber, the deadline to request a Senate study is July 13.
Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz will consider each request based on its merits as well as on committee and staff workloads. In most cases, similar requests regarding topics may be combined by either the presiding officer or the committee chair over the study.
Approved studies and related committee assignments will be announced no later than Friday, July 13 in the House of Representatives. Studies are typically held from August through October for both bodies.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) requested a House study last year regarding a review of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma-informed Care. This led to the passage of Senate Bill 1517 this year which will create a task force of experts to suggest new policies and potential laws to help reduce the horrible conditions and statistics facing the youngest of Oklahomans. We have requested a follow-up study in the State Senate this year to hit the ground running on ideas for the upcoming task force.
If you have suggestions for studies, please contact your local state senator or representative for them to consider your ideas. If you have some topic regarding youth policies, feel free to send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will approach lawmakers with proposals also. I can speak from experience that some of the best ideas come from the folks back home and we want to see some creative solutions for the problems facing our state!