From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor
This week, the Senate heard just over 160 House bills, bringing our grand total to nearly 280 House measures considered by Thursday’s deadline. We’ve voted on some great bills in the last couple of weeks. I want to mention some that have been of great interest.
The first two bills are legislative intervention on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma impacted by the horrible February winter weather. As you’ll remember, the Pro Tem appointed a special Senate Energy Committee, of which I’m the vice chair, to investigate the outrageous energy price spike and possible option to mitigate those costs for utility customers.
Overall, it’s estimated that the state sustained around $4.5 billion in additional energy costs brought about by the record subzero temperatures. We learned that, hypothetically without legislative action, a typical $100 utility bill before the storm could rise to as much as $2,000 in a month, followed by up to six months of slightly decreasing amounts. This is entirely incomprehensible and unmanageable for a majority of Oklahomans, including my family.
The two Senate bills will allow overall energy bills to be spread out over ten years, significantly lowering monthly bills where customers only see a slight increase.
Furthermore, there are ongoing investigations by the Attorney General’s Office into any possible market manipulation or price gouging. Should that agency find evidence of any such illegal actions, any monies recovered will be used to help lower customers’ utility bills.
In total, three of my Senate bills (SBs 181, 939 & 1034) and eight more of my House bills (HBs 1135, 1759, 2029, 2230, 2656, 2646, 2674 & 2689) have passed both floors this week.
As of Thursday, the governor had received nearly 250 bills and signed 180 of them, including over 100 Senate bills and nearly 80 House bills. Among those were five of my Senate bills (SBs 10, 137, 448, 492 & 632) along with three more of my House bills (HBs 1140, 2234 & 2877).
I hope you’ll take some time to visit the Senate and House websites to learn more about these bills that will soon become Oklahoma law.
As for other happenings in the Senate, on Wednesday, the Select Committee on Redistricting shared the new district maps they’ve been working tirelessly to complete over the last several months. They’ve held numerous public meetings and accepted public comment, questions, and suggested maps that were all taken into consideration for the final maps.
As I’ve mentioned before, the legislature is constitutionally mandated to approve state legislative district maps by the end of session in May. These maps are put into a Senate redistricting bill as well as a House one. These bills go through the same approval process as a standard piece of legislation, so each chamber’s bill must first be approved by their redistricting committee and, if approved, go before that full body. The bills would then go across the rotunda, where they would go before that chamber’s redistricting committee and their whole body. If approved by both chambers, the bills will then move on to the governor’s desk.
I applaud the tremendous work and diligence of the Senate and House Redistricting Committees. This, by far, has been the most open and transparent redistricting process in our state’s history. If you’d like to view the new Senate district maps and related materials, any of the submitted public comments, and the archived video of all the public redistricting town hall meetings, visit www.oksenate.gov/redistricting. The committee is still also welcoming public comments on the process at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, there will be a legislative breakfast on Friday, May 7, 2021, located at Dan’s Bar-B-Que Pit in Davenport from 8-9 a.m. This will be the last legislative breakfast this year, and I encourage everyone in the surrounding area to join this event.
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.