Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — The first major deadline of the legislative session has now passed with work on House bills in the chamber completed on March 15.
We started the year with 962 bills and 26 joint resolutions filed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
In addition, there were 953 House Bills and 63 House Joint Resolutions that carried over from the 2011 session.
House members began cutting that number down during committee work over the first four weeks of session and then continued it during an additional two weeks of floor activity.
By the March 15 deadline, just 321 House Bills and Joint Resolutions passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives – that’s 16 percent of the total number of bills available for consideration this year when you include carryover legislation.
Now the same cycle begins on Senate bills that were sent to the House. A total of 972 bills and 45 joint resolutions were filed with 753 Senate Bills and 41 Senate Joint Resolutions carried over from the 2011 session.
As in the House, that number has been cut down dramatically.
The total number of bills and joint resolutions filed in both chambers this year totaled 1,968, which is actually down compared to past years. In 2011, the combined number was 2,281, and in 2010 the total was 2,299. In 2009, bill filings hit a high-water mark with 2,618.
Fortunately, only a relatively small percentage of bills become law. In 2011, there were 1,185 House Bills and 66 House Joint Resolutions filed. At the end of that session, only 200 of those House Bills and one joint resolution were sent to the governor, who vetoed seven of the bills.
Out of the 2,281 House and Senate measure filed that year, just 390 became law, and roughly half of those bills were appropriation measures that must be enacted for budget reasons rather than policy changes.
While some may see those numbers and think they represent a lot of time and energy wasted on bills that never became law, I believe those figures show our legislative process works exactly as designed. Approval of new laws that impact all Oklahomans should never be an easy change to make, and the process at the Capitol is meant to weed out bad ideas and poorly designed measures.
I will keep you informed of progress on Senate measures in committee in the weeks ahead.
As always, feel free to contact me at (405)557-7365 or write me at State Capitol Office 302A, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.