It's time for legislative multitasking
Some may think that legislators' only job is to write and pass laws, but we have many other responsibilities. With the end of session just weeks away, we’re definitely putting our multitasking skills to work. Although the deadline for consideration of policy bills has passed, that didn’t include amendments from the other chamber or bills on redistricting, appropriations or from leadership.
Last week, our Select Committee on Redistricting approved the legislation detailing the new Senate legislative district maps. Like other legislation, redistricting measures must go through the normal legislative protocol for consideration — they must be approved in committee, by both chambers and signed off on by the governor. The Senate will consider the redistricting bill this week before sending it on to the governor. You can view the proposed new districts at www.oksenate.gov/redistricting.
Senate District 10 will be changing slightly. We’ll still have all of Osage County and part of Kay County but will also be adding northern Tulsa County. Again, since the U.S. Census Bureau is behind in providing the final population numbers and we’re constitutionally required to complete legislative redistricting by the end of session, these maps were drawn using estimates from the bureau. They may require some tweaking later this fall once we get the final numbers.
Constitutionally, congressional districts have to be based on the actual census figures, so we’ll be convening in special session once those final numbers are available. Any changes to state legislative districts will be made at that time as well.
We’ve got nearly 400 new laws on the books, and the governor is considering more every day. If you’re interested in the major Senate bills being signed, be sure to sign up for updates at www.oksenate.gov. All of my bills I mentioned in my most-recent article have been signed into law, bringing my total to 11 measures approved.
Two more made their way to the governor’s desk last week. SB 85 authorizes a multiple small brewery license holder to sell their beer at all their breweries regardless of which one it was produced in. If signed, it’ll go into effect Nov. 1.
The other bill that received final legislative approval was SB 456, which adds inmates convicted on counts relating to child abuse or neglect as well as inmates convicted of exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the list of persons deemed ineligible to be placed in the Electronic Monitoring Program. I’m glad this oversight in our state law is being addressed. These predators need to serve their full time and stay behind bars to better ensure the safety of their victims and protect others from being harmed.
Some good news was announced early last week. The Department of Homeland Security is extending the REAL ID full enforcement date to May 3, 2023, due to ongoing problems from the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, it has been extremely difficult for the state to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards given that many tag agencies are still operating at limited capacity. This should help our tag agencies tremendously and allow them to work faster, shortening wait times and relieving some of their burden.
A couple of other important announcements. If you or someone you know is currently unemployed, don’t forget that the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is hosting several career fairs around the state in May. Participation will count towards one’s work search requirement. The closest one to our area will be held at Tulsa Expo Square on May 6-7. Those looking for jobs can register at http://regpack.com/reg/oesc21. Employers interested in participating can register at http://regpack.com/reg/OESC.
Finally, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be accepting applications for the Oklahoma Innovation Expansion Program (OIEP) through Friday, May 7 at 5 pm. This program was created to support high-impact new capital investment across various industries to help diversify our state’s economy. The program will provide $10 million in monthly cash payment awards in the form of payroll tax rebates to help existing companies grow and increase business expansion investments. To learn more or apply, visit https://www.okcommerce.gov/OIEP.
You can contact me by calling 405-521-5581 or emailing Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.