Rejected House Interim Studies show breadth of issues facing state (Capitol Update)

UPDATE (8/1/23): An earlier version said that an interim study on medical debt (Interim Study 23-69 by Rep. Suzanne Schreiber, D-Tulsa) was not approved. That study was approved. 

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Last week, Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, approved 85 of the 110 interim studies requested. Screening interim study requests by the Speaker may be a holdover from the past when interim studies were more in-depth. Fewer studies were requested, and studies were normally conducted by a special committee. The Speaker would approve the request, appoint the special committee, assign staff, and perhaps authorize expenditures for expert assistance or consultants if requested. The committee would often meet multiple times during the interim before issuing a report and recommendations.

Today’s studies are usually one to two hours or a half day at the most and consist of a presentation orchestrated by the requestors to introduce information to their colleagues. That said, it might be interesting to look at the 25 studies that were NOT approved by Speaker McCall. 

Interim Studies 23-4 and 23-5 — requested by Rep. Trey Caldwell, R-Lawton — were not approved. Interim Study 23-4 was a request to study the effects of “invasive woody species” growing on state-owned land. Invasive woody species is a term for plant life that grows rapidly, spreads quickly and can harm native ecosystems. Interim Study 23-5 was a request by the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association through Rep. Caldwell to study outdated administrative rules concerning life-safety issues for volunteer fire departments.

Another denied request was Interim Study 23-10 by Rep. Cindy Roe, R-Lindsay, Chair of the House Public Health Committee, who wanted to look at allowing Ph.D. psychologists to write prescriptions. Prescriptions for medications treating behavioral health issues must now be written by a licensed physician. Rep. Roe also requested Interim Study 23-41 to look at implementing dental therapy in Oklahoma through dental therapists, who in other states are similar to physician’s assistants.

In Interim Study 23-18, Reps. Danny Williams, R-Seminole, T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow, and Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, wanted to research the reimbursement protocols for compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies make customized medications for a specific patient. In addition, Rep. McEntire wanted to study instituting the regulation of privacy in social services and social care referrals.

Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, wanted Interim Study 23-26 to locate funding to provide a pay raise for game wardens and Interim Study 23-28 to study the dark money pouring into Oklahoma elections with little oversight, both of which were not approved. Rep. Humphrey also wanted to review retirement funding for fire marshals in Interim Study 23-33. In Interim Study 23-30, Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, asked to explore options to require licensing of general contractors by the state. In Interim Study 23-48, Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, wanted to explore current and proposed rules and regulations regarding tattoo artists in Oklahoma.

Interim Study 23-57, requested by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, would have explored the existing school epinephrine injector statute and policy and existing programs designated for schools by companies that provide injectors to help improve access to epinephrine in the event a person experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction/anaphylaxis in a school setting. 

In a pair of requests, Rep. Mauree Turner, R-Oklahoma City, wanted to examine effective practices to address Oklahoma’s rural and urban HIV healthcare crisis in Interim Study 23-60 and to explore potential benefits of increasing eligibility to the free and reduced lunch program in Oklahoma public schools in Interim Study 23-61. In Interim Study 23-64, Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, who is a nurse, wanted to look at retention and recruiting of nurses in Oklahoma. 

Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Chair of the House Common Education Committee, asked for Interim Study 23-73 to look at public charter school access to facilities and facilities funding and Interim Study 23-74 to study administration/technical barriers relating to administration of required testing for successful graduation. Reps. Andy Fugate, D-Oklahoma City, Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, and Ellyn Hefner, D-Oklahoma City, requested Interim Study 23-93 to explore opening a statewide magnet school for the fine arts similar to the successful Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. 

Rep. Blancett also requested Interim Study 23-98 to explore unique, promising opportunities in Oklahoma’s economic growth by leveraging and partnering with the state’s sovereign Indian Nations. In a similar request, Reps. Ajay Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, and Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, asked for Interim Study 23-107 to study the state of the Tribal economic impact in Oklahoma. And finally, in Interim Study 23-109, Rep. Arturo Alonso-Sandoval, D-Oklahoma City, asked to explore the economic advantages for Oklahomans through the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.

No doubt Speaker McCall had his reasons for not approving these interim studies. Nevertheless, they demonstrate the breadth of interests that legislators have and the issues they are called on to consider. Members can still introduce legislation in the areas that they wanted to study.


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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