First look at Senate interim study requests (Capitol Update)

The Senate has published the list of 41 interim studies that have been requested this year. Unlike in the House, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, does not approve or disapprove allowing the studies. He assigns each of them to a standing committee, and it’s up to the requesting senator to arrange for the study with the committee chair. Also, unlike the House, the Senate does not post a copy of the request submitted by the senator so it’s difficult to know, just by the title of the request, exactly what the requestor has in mind. Of the 48 Senators, only 22 requested interim studies this year. There are usually fewer study requests in an election year.

It’s interesting to see the range of interests the senators have. Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, who is chair of the Judiciary Committee, has requested a study on addressing and treating mental health challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, in first responders and other public employees. Not surprising, Sen. Jo Anna Dossett, D-Tulsa, has requested studies on one-semester teacher contracts, Reading Sufficiency Act provisions, and teacher observation requirements, all in her wheelhouse as a schoolteacher.

Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, who is known to work on a broad range of issues, has requested studies this interim on childcare-center regulation and access, applying adverse childhood experiences (ACE) screenings results to assist in preventative treatment, making Oklahoma a “Top Ten State” for women, and substance abuse treatment options for youth, all relatively closely related. 

Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, wants studies on male diversion, substance abuse and employment options for justice-involved individuals and the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Public/Private Tourism Initiative. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums, and other landmarks in the Southern states and beyond that played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1950s and 1960s. Currently, no Oklahoma sites are included. I’m guessing Sen. Matthews wants to consider getting on the map some Oklahoma locations that still exist.

Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, has asked to study prevention and intervention for DUI cases, emergency transportation, and providing high-quality interdisciplinary legal representation for indigent parents and their children in child welfare judicial proceedings. The latter is to follow up and continue his work on House Bill 3468 that he authored in the Senate last session. The bill passed the House but was not heard in Senate Committee.

Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, continuing his challenging and sometimes thankless work on criminal justice, wants to look at prison culture, reform, and the fiscal impact of crime, and children who are in Oklahoma Department of Human Services custody. Finally, Sen. Treat apparently intends to take up where he left off last year on two controversial issues, school choice and judicial reform. His school choice bill failed on the Senate floor, and his proposed constitutional amendment to change the method of appointing judges and justices passed both chambers in different forms but failed to emerge from conference committee before adjournment. Sen. Treat is sponsoring studies on both issues.


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

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