Thursday was what is called the "third-reading deadline." It is a deadline for all bills to pass out of their legislative chamber of origin in order to stay alive this session. The House finished its work just before noon Thursday after working many late nights for the past few weeks. In total, we passed 360 bills and resolutions over to the state Senate. We passed 167 this week alone. This is from a total of 1,754 bills and resolutions filed at the beginning of the session. I was able to pass 12 bills before the deadline.
Things went much more smoothly on the floor of the House this year than in my previous two years as a state representative. There was truly a spirit of bipartisanship. Many freshman lawmakers were able to pass pieces of legislation. We cheered for each freshman as their first bills were passed. This is a tradition in the House. Of course, there were a few topics that drew some ire, heated questioning and debate, but there was so much less animosity than in the past legislative session. We are disagreeing better.
Next week the workload will be lighter than normal; it is Spring Break week for many school districts in the state. Lawmakers will take a few days to spend with their families and get refreshed before coming back to the Capitol to finish the remainder of the session.
The next step in the legislative process is for the House to receive Senate bills they passed and the Senate to receive House bills we just passed. These bills will be assigned to various committees and then be eligible to be heard on the floor. If the bills are passed as they are, they can be sent to the governor to be signed into law or vetoed. If amended, they return to their chamber of origin for approval of the amendments and final passage. If amendments are not approved, there’s one final step known as "conference committee." This is a joint committee of House and Senate members who meet to hash out final details before a bill dies or is enacted.
Several pieces of legislation have already made it through the legislative process and been signed by the governor this year. These include agency accountability measures that will allow us more direct authority over the spending of taxpayer dollars and programs that benefit our state citizens. This comes by giving the governor direct hiring authority of five agency directors and the governor and the Legislature more appointment power over these agency boards.
As always, I will keep you updated as the session progresses. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my office (405) 557-7327.
Marcus McEntire represents Oklahoma House District 50.