From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor
The Oklahoma Senate is continuing to pace through hundreds of bills remaining on our agenda. The Appropriations Committee finished its work on Wednesday, hearing nearly 40 bills. We have until Thursday, March 11, to complete floor work on the remaining nearly 400 bills. Bills not voted on by then will have to wait until next session to be brought back up.
This session, I’ve authored 25 Senate bills, and three (SB 10, 181 & 492) are awaiting further consideration in the House. Ten more will be heard this coming week in the Senate.
Another measure, SB 318, which seeks to increase the age a police officer can participate in the police retirement system after previously opting out of the system from 45 to 50, was assigned to an actuarial study. Because this deals with a retirement system, it must go through an actuary to see how the proposed changes would impact the system fiscally. A report will be provided to the Retirement Committee by the end of the year to help us decide if we want to proceed with this bill next session.
After we complete consideration of Senate bills in our chamber next week, we’ll return to our committees to begin work on those House bills that were approved across the rotunda. I signed on as the Senate author for 24 House bills. Out of those, only one didn’t advance out of the House. Six have already been sent to the Senate for further consideration. I’ll discuss these further in the coming weeks.
I also want to discuss SB 523 by Sen. Paxton of Tuttle. The 2020 presidential election was one of the most historic, not only because of the number of votes cast, but because of the controversy surrounding the election results. They were questioned because in some of the battleground states, officials took it upon themselves to change election protocols and rules, without legislative or voter approval, weeks and even days before voters cast their ballots.
Oklahoma has been praised for having one of the best election systems nationwide. Unlike many other states, where it took days and weeks to count votes, Oklahoma’s results were available the night of the election, as is always the case because we have a fair and efficient system.
SB 523 clarifies the state legislature’s sole authority to change election procedures. The bill prohibits any political subdivision, agency, or officer of the State from entering into a legal agreement that prescribes election procedures that conflict with those set by the Legislature in statute. Regardless of your party affiliation, you can rest assured that in Oklahoma, we have fair and transparent elections. This bill will continue to protect the integrity of our elections by preventing the unethical and questionable last-minute actions that changed election procedures in some other states. This bill ensures our state’s election system can and will only ever be changed through state legislative action. The bill passed 37-8 along party lines and will next be considered by the House.
This was by far our busiest week so far. This past Monday, I joined some of my colleagues in sponsoring the Republican Caucus luncheon. During our meeting, we had a Zoom call with Mike Ross with the Southwest Power Pool to learn more about the historic winter storms’ impact on our state’s electrical grid.
On Tuesday, we had our Freshman Senator meeting to discuss where we are in the legislative process and share our thoughts on various bills and issues.
All day Thursday, I served as the Presiding Officer, where more than 50 bills were debated. Later that evening, I drove back to Shawnee for the Pottawatomie County Republican meeting.
On Friday morning, I attended a Legislative Breakfast in Stroud to discuss where we are in the legislative process and go over some of the hundreds of bills we’ve been debating in committee and on the floor.
This coming week will be a productive one as we wrap up our work on Senate bills. Again, I can’t encourage you enough to jump on our website (www.oksenate.gov/live-proceedings) and listen in on what issues are being addressed 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 521-5547. T