We’re just over halfway done with the legislative session. Thursday, April 22 is the deadline to pass bills out of the opposite chamber. Following this deadline, we’ll start considering the amendments made by the Senate to House bills. We’ll also ramp up our state budget efforts, which legislators first began working on several months ago.
The House has been hearing Senate bills while on the other side of the Capitol Rotunda, Senators have been hearing bills filed by Representatives.
House Bill 1059 addresses the significant backlog currently being experienced at the Dept. of Public Safety. Due to the challenges brought by COVID-19 and the implementation of Real IDs, many Oklahomans are waiting months to receive or renew commercial driver’s licenses. The bill would allow local tag agencies to complete various administrative actions to ease the burden at DPS and get Oklahomans their licenses faster. Third-party drivers examiners would also be allowed to give driver’s exams so there aren’t as many people waiting to take the exam through a DPS location.
The measure has the support of DPS, State Chamber and, most importantly, many of my constituents who have reached out to me sharing their frustrations with the long waits at DPS to get new drivers permits, CDL’s and etc.. My Senate author on this bill was Sen. Jessica Garvin of Duncan, and I’m very grateful for her work on getting this bill passed through the Senate with overwhelming support. It now goes to the Governor, and he’ll consider signing it into law.
On Monday, House and Senate leaders came together to announce legislation filed in response to the price spikes in utility bills due to February winter storm. Through the process of securitization, Senate Bill 1049 and Senate Bill 1050 both would allow ratepayers to lower their monthly costs associated with the weather event and lengthen the period of time the increased costs could be paid out. This would help Oklahomans manage the financial burden following extreme price spikes in utility and energy bills after the February’s storm.
It was also announced this week that our General Revenue Fund collections in March totaled $489.3 million, which is 3.5% above the monthly estimate. The total GRF collections through the first nine months of fiscal year 2021 are $4.8 billion, which is also above our initial estimate by about $27.5 million. This is great news, as it indicates that our state’s economy has recovered well from the pandemic and better than most other states in the country.
As the House looks forward to many hours of floor work each day next week, please feel free to reach out to my office with your thoughts on legislation we’re considering. Thank you allowing me the honor of serving House District 51—God bless!