House lawmakers request a wide range of interim studies (Capitol Update)

This could be an active interim if House interim study requests are any indication. The deadline for representatives to request studies was last Friday, June 21. Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, will announce the approved studies and related committee assignments no later than July 19. House members have requested 145 studies on a variety of topics. In the past the Speaker has combined requests that appeared to be on the same or compatible topics and approved them as a single study. It is within the Speaker’s discretion which studies to authorize and, with 145 requests, it’s doubtful they will all be approved.

House members showed an interest in studying a wide range of topics. Criminal justice reform, in view of last year’s minimal progress, remains a priority with several members. Rep. Gary Mize, R-Edmond, wants further study on two proposals that passed both chambers but failed to make the finish line. One would define and set standards of proof for possession with intent to distribute controlled drugs. The other would reduce the penalty on some nonviolent second or subsequent offenses. Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, wants to reorganize probation and parole in the Department of Corrections. Rep. Kelly Albright, D-Midwest City, wants to study the number of incarcerated caregivers in Oklahoma and look at the cost of incarceration of parents to both the state and the families. She also wants to assess the impact on children that comes with incarceration of the parents. Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, filed a similar request.

Majority Floor leader Jon Echols, R-OKC, wants to determine if Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is increasing or decreasing, and Rep. Chris Kannady, R-OKC, wants to take another look at bail reform, a bill he authored that fell 6 votes short on the House floor. Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, wants to study the problems associated with post incarceration hearings that may be a hurdle to the offender’s attempts to become productive. He also wants to look at the method of payment of fines and fees that may have the same affect.

Education had the most requests for study. Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, wants to study discipline in the classroom. Rep. Ronny Johns, R-Ada, wants to look at a separate funding formula for virtual charter schools and Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, wants to look at how brick and mortar charter schools are funded. Rep. Lundy Kiger, R-Poteau, and Rep Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, filed similar requests to look at funding for virtual and brick and mortar charter schools. Education Chair Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, wants to focus on access to AP courses for all high school students,

Representatives Melisa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, and John Waldron, D-Tulsa, teamed up to request several education interim studies, including virtual school attendance policy, meeting Oklahoma’s workforce needs, recruiting adequate numbers of teachers, early intervention training to identify kids with special needs, and a review of school restraint and seclusion policies. Rep. Derrell Fincher, R-Bartlesville, wants to look at supporting family choice within the public school system, study current knowledge on how to improve schools, and study how to blend on-site and virtual learning.

There are numerous other requests reflecting legislators’ broad range of interests involving children, mental health, the developmentally disabled and elderly, economic growth, and governmental efficiency, among others. The study requests can be found here.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-OKC, has set the deadline for senators to request studies for July 12th. Senators will have until Nov. 8 to have their studies heard. The Senate traditionally assigns all its interim studies to standing committees. It is then up to the study’s requesting senator and the committee chair to schedule whether and when the study is heard. Senate requests have yet to be published.


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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