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From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor: Session convenes Monday

Senator Zack Taylor
Exterior of the Oklahoma Capitol building Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

On Monday, we'll convene for the 1st Session of the 58th Legislature — my first in the Senate, so I'm anxious to get to work. We have so many important issues to deal with and very little time. Under our state's constitution, we must conclude our work no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.

Last week was the bill filing deadline. Given that the 2020 session was cut short by the pandemic, many members are focusing on issues that were unable to be addressed last year. The Senate is starting with just over 1,000 bills to consider in committees. There are also nearly 30 joint resolutions, most of which create state questions to put before Oklahoma voters. The House ended up with nearly 1,950 bills and around 40 joint resolutions. While the number will be cut down drastically in the committee process, we’re starting session with more than 3,000 bills and joint resolutions.

I filed more than 20 bills, and I’ll go over those in the coming weeks as they make their way through the committee process.  Next week, leadership and the chairmen will still be assigning bills to committees, so there will be very few committee meetings, if any.

We’ll spend most of February in our committees. If you’re interested, the committee schedules and agendas will be posted at www.oksenate.gov. You can watch the meetings live and they’ll also be archived for future viewing.

We’re also working on getting Senate and House co-authors for our bills and signing on to others’ legislation that is important to our districts.

I’ve signed on as the principal Senate author to House Bill 2234, which recognizes while most Electric Vehicle (EV) users charge their vehicles at home, some don’t or take the occasional road trip. To avoid double-taxing Oklahoma residents, this bill supplies a tax credit for the amount of taxes paid at public charging stations up to the amount of their annual electric vehicle registration fee. It enacts a tax per kilowatt-hour at public for-profit charging stations, allowing non-Oklahoma residents to support the funding of the road infrastructure they utilize while in the state. The bill doesn’t enact a tax on anyone utilizing residential charging stations. It will enact an annual vehicle registration fee for electric vehicles tied directly to what the average comparable vehicle model powered only by combustion engine would spend in a year in fuel taxes and on weight.  This legislation is unique in that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the fee will vary based on the vehicle model, so that a two-door electric sedan pays less than a four-door electric pickup.

I want to thank Rep. Kyle Hilbert for filing this important bill to ensure all vehicles utilizing our state highways contribute to the cost of maintaining this system fairly and correctly. Overall, revenues from this change will be placed into the Driving on Road Infrastructure with Vehicles of Electricity (DRIVE) Fund, which will supplement the state’s current ROADS Fund. The ROADS fund has been instrumental in taking Oklahoma from the bottom 10 to the country's top 10 in bridge conditions.

On Tuesday, Senate Pro Tem Treat let me know that I’m one of six senators he has chosen to be on the Presiding Officer Team this session. This is a tremendous honor, and I’m grateful to him for the opportunity. The Senate’s presiding officer has an important role in daily floor sessions, as we are responsible for the progression of floor proceedings and ensuring that members follow all Senate rules and guidelines regarding presentation of bills and debate. To ensure decorum, members address the presiding officer when presenting their bills or debating an issue. Our job is to ensure this is done in a civil and efficient manner.  With so many bills, it can be easy to get bogged down in debate, but we must keep the process moving. 

In closing, if you want another great way to stay up on what’s happening in the Senate, please sign up for press releases on our website. There is a signup box in the bottom right corner. This way you’ll get the news at the same time the media does and can stay-up-date on what’s happening in your state Capitol.

To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Zack Taylor, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 446, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at zack.taylor@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5547.