Legislators file nearly 2,500 bills for session
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 7:12 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Lawmakers filed nearly 2,500 measures in advance of the first day of the legislative session, which begins Feb. 4, legislative staff said Friday.
Thursday marked the deadline for filing measures for the upcoming session.
Both the House and Senate saw an increase in the number of items filed.
House members filed 1,259 bills and 43 joint resolutions. Last year, they filed 962 bills and 26 joint resolutions.
"We had a lot of bills filed for this legislative session, and we have a lot of work ahead of us," said Joe Griffin, a spokesman for House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton.
Senators filed 1,119 bills and 34 joint resolutions. Last year, they filed 972 bills and 45 joint resolutions.
Many measures will be culled in the committee process and through action in both chambers. Many will never even be heard in committee and will go by the wayside.
The state budget, outlining how much state agencies will receive in the next fiscal year, is expected to be announced in the final weeks or days of the legislative session.
Workers compensation reform, tax cuts, job creation, education reform and funding are expected to be top issues in the coming session.
A highly touted income tax cut proposal last session never materialized, as the House, Senate and Governor's Office could not agree.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday that she will propose a modest and simple income tax reduction this year. It will not be tied to a revenue trigger or to the elimination of tax credits and exemptions, said Alex Weintz, her spokesman.
Fallin will outline her proposals on Feb. 4 before a joint assembly of the House and Senate in the lower chamber. She will also release her proposed state budget at that time.
"Gov. Fallin is looking forward to working with legislators in both parties to create more and better jobs, promote fiscally responsible and efficient government, and strengthen education," Weintz said. "She is monitoring the many bills that have been filed so far and expects this to be an active and productive legislative session."
Senate Republicans will work to reform the state's workers compensation system.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said prior reform efforts haven't produced the results he had hoped for in the form of cost reductions.
"Many pieces of legislation filed in anticipation of the upcoming session demonstrate Senate Republicans' commitment to smaller, simpler and smarter government," Bingman said.
"We've seen proposals to improve Oklahoma's business climate by overhauling our adversarial workers compensation system, and we've seen responsible, conservative proposals to give tax relief to hard-working Oklahomans."
Several of the bills are not new proposals.
Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, is proposing to add a fourth unit of math as a requirement for high school graduation.
"As you probably know, I have tried this several times without success," Halligan said. "It is a passion of mine in that I think too many young people go to college and have a math phobia and they then chose majors that have minimal content with respect to math."
Meanwhile, lawmakers will begin holding performance and budget-request hearings for state agencies.
House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Scott Martin, R-Norman, said the hearings are an important part of the process for members to review how the agencies performed during the most recent fiscal year.
The meetings give agencies a chance to explain how the prior year's appropriation was spent and whether new programs were added or old ones discarded, as well as to present their budget requests for the next fiscal year.
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465