From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor
This past week, the Legislature convened for the First Session of the 58th Legislature. With the shortened session last year, we have no time to waste. We gathered in the Senate Monday morning before joining our colleagues in the House for Gov. Stitt’s State of the State Address, where he shared his vision for the upcoming year. His outlook is optimistic, and I’m looking forward to learning more about his ideas to see how we can work together to strengthen our state’s economy and help improve the lives of Oklahomans.
On Monday, I also attended the Republican Caucus lunch and prayer meeting, while my wife, Stephanie, attended the annual Ohoyahoma Spouse’s 1st Day of Session Coffee. None of my committees met on Monday as bills were still being assigned to the various committees. That night, I enjoyed attending the Pottawatomie County FFA Pig Roast. This is always a fun event where we raise money for FFA.
Typically, there are hardly ever any meetings the first week of session as bills are still being assigned, and legislators work with their colleagues on various issues, but that isn’t the case this year. We had a full agenda Tuesday morning in the Education Committee, and I’m excited to be a part of improving education for Oklahoma’s students.
On Wednesday, Sen. Adam Pugh of Edmond invited all the Senators to have breakfast with him at the Governor’s Mansion, where we discussed education. I’m enjoying getting to know all the Senators better, and I’m happy to be working with such a great group of people. I also met with the Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Roger Thompson, to discuss the budget and what to expect this year. We will delve into the budget in a future column.
On Wednesday afternoon, we heard our first bill on the Senate Floor, Senate Bill 1031. This will extend the exemptions to the Open Meetings Act passed last session, allowing public bodies to meet virtually. Unfortunately, that exemption expired in November, but this bill will extend the exemption to Feb. 15, 2022, or until 30 days after the state of emergency declared by the governor in response to the pandemic expires or is terminated, whichever happens first.
Then on Thursday morning, we had our Energy Committee meeting before convening in session where we heard Senate Resolution 4 declaring Wear Red Day at the State Capitol. This special annual event helps support the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red for Women program. A woman dies in the U.S. nearly every 80 seconds from heart disease, making it the number one killer of women in our country, and, sadly, it’s often preventable with proper diet and exercise. To learn more, please visit www.goredforwomen.org.
This week, I also presented my first two bills in committee. On Tuesday morning, the Finance Committee unanimously approved SB 181, which modifies the formula for payments made to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for delinquent taxes. Rather than requiring the amounts to be made in two equal installments, my bill will require the payments to be made in two installments. There’s a reason why people can’t pay their taxes, and this simple change will give them a bit of leeway in deciding what amounts they’re able to pay in their two installments.
Then the Public Safety Committee approved SB 10 on Wednesday morning. Rep. Carl Newton has agreed to be the House Author of this bill. Currently, the $10 fine applied for a conviction of speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the speeding limit was set to expire on Nov. 1, 2022. This is known as sunsetting in legislative terms. My bill will continue the lower fine indefinitely.
I’m eager to introduce more bills in committee this month and presenting them before the full Senate. If you’re interested in any of my bills or others, they are posted on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov along with the committee schedules and agendas. Again, all committee and floor action can be viewed live on the website as well. You can sign up for press releases on our website as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 521-5547.