The 2011 legislature is meeting their deadlines earlyApr 29th, 2011 | By Jerrod Shouse | Category: Policy, Politics, State Capitol, Top News
Thursday was a big deadline day for the Oklahoma legislature. All bills still alive have to be passed by the opposite house of origin — House bills had to be passed by the Senate, and Senate bills voted on by the House. But if you went to the capitol on Thursday expecting to see a flurry of activity on the House or Senate floor, you would likely be disappointed.
The Oklahoma House and Senate both adjourned for the week on Wednesday, one day before their rules required them to complete their work.
After debating on Wednesday some big issues like affirmative action, the retirement age for teachers, and the creation of an economic development “closing fund“, lawmakers left the building for the week. In previous years, the legislature has been known to work right up until the midnight deadline on Thursday night in an effort to pass as many bills as possible. And often, proposed legislation dies merely because it isn’t heard in time.
But this year was different.
When Wednesday began, the Senate only had a dozen or so bills left of their calendar to be heard. The House had less than 30. Having so few eligible bills left certainly helps. But leaders of both the House and Senate say that finishing business a day early is a cost savings measure and will save tax-payer dollars. The Senate also finished their business one day before their March 17 deadline to pass their own bills.
The 2011 legislative session must end by 5:00 pm on May 27th. Only four more work weeks remain, but there is already talk of adjourning early. Is the legislature’s new habit for meeting deadlines early a signal that they may adjourn early for the year? If the House and Senate can agree in the coming days on both the budget for fiscal year 2012, and finish drawing district boundaries for the current round of redistricting, they may close up shop and go home for the year — maybe as soon as two weeks early.