Friday, February 11, 2011

Legislative Session Week in Review

The week started with Gov. Mary Fallin’s first State of the State speech where she outlined an ambitious agenda to improve Oklahoma’s economy.

Although the budget shortfall and redistricting will obviously take up much of our time, we still have the opportunity to advance common-sense reforms as well.

At the start of this session, we face 1168 bills and 41 joint resolutions in the Oklahoma House of Representatives while lawmakers in the Senate filed 969 bills and 44 joint resolutions.

At the same time, we face a hole of $500 million to $600 million this year’s budget, which means some tough decisions lie ahead of us. To get a head start on those decisions, we held pre-session budget hearings with state agencies. Those meetings will help us determine where cuts can be made, where duplication exists, and how to best proceed.

Illegal immigration will also be a major issue this year. State House and Senate leaders have formed a special joint committee to develop immigration reform proposals. The group includes four members each from the House and Senate, as well as Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Among other things, the committee will develop a reform package that addresses public safety issues and targets crimes associated with illegal immigration. As part of the effort, the group will also consider proposals to better protect taxpayer money from subsidizing illegal immigration.

While much work remains ahead of us, the House has already enacted one major reform. Under the rules of operation adopted on opening day, the public will now have greater opportunity to monitor activity at the Oklahoma Capitol.
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