Interim studies approved by House and Senate leaders were announced last week. The House had previously announced the request of 92 interim studies, and 74 were approved. The Senate did not reveal study requests but announced approval of 39 of 64 interim studies. Studies will likely begin in August with dates and agendas to be announced by Committee Chairs. It is always interesting to see the breadth of interests reflected in interim study requests.
Senator Nathan Dahm, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola want a study to analyze potential improvements, changes, and reforms so the Legislature is more involved in the administrative rules process. The Legislature’s reaction to agency rules has become more contentious in recent years with the Legislature generally spending a lot of time studying rules adopted by agencies but then failing to take any final action. Under current law, if a rule is not disapproved by vote of both houses of the Legislature, it goes into effect if approved by the Governor. There is some confusion as to whether the rules must be rejected in total or piecemeal.
In a request reflecting current events, Senate Majority Leader Kim David, R-Porter, and Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, want to study universal training requirements for police officers. This will likely be controversial, but with these two taking an interest something may happen next session. Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, wants to evaluate the County Road Improvement Fund. This is a revolving fund to which part of the state gasoline tax is earmarked for use on county roads. It has been raided in recent years to make up for funding shortfalls.
Presaging possible managed care, Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, wants to study tribal health and Medicaid managed care, specifically how to avoid leaving federal money on the table in managed care contracting. Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus, wants to look into prison housing and county jail health care after Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion will help address addiction and mental health issues suffered by a large percentage of those incarcerated.
Finally, Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, wants to study the Oklahoma Employment and Securities Commission and unemployment, attempting to learn how the state can learn from the pandemic and become better prepared in the future. This is just a few of the interesting Senate studies that may be heard. In the Senate, interim studies are heard at the option of the committee chair.