(Oklahoma City) Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson and House Speaker Todd Hiett announced Thursday an agreement on deadlines for the First Session of the 50th Oklahoma Legislature.
“These deadlines provide a framework for the exercise of democracy, in which critical issues are debated and decided by the people’s representatives. Oklahoma’s citizens can be confident that the new bi-partisan government will work,” said Hiett, R-Kellyville.
“Setting deadlines sounds like a simple thing and it is, but it’s important to have an agreement on how we’re going to complete our work and accomplish the people’s business. We may disagree on politics and policy, but we can agree on the process by which we resolve those differences,” said Hobson, D-Lexington.
The leaders agreed that writing a balanced state budget should be among the new Legislature’s top priorities.
Hiett and Hobson said that Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Morgan and House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Chris Benge have already begun budget discussions and both expect the Fiscal Year 2006 budget to be written in an orderly and timely fashion.
“We have the responsibility to write a state budget and that’s what we’re going to do. The Constitution doesn’t care if the Senate is controlled by the Democrats and the House is controlled by the Republicans. And neither do the people of Oklahoma. They’ve sent us here to do a job and Chairman Benge and I are going to see that it gets done smoothly and on time,” said Morgan.
“Despite new challenges faced by the new bi-partisan government, we will work long hours to ensure that the people’s business is completed in an orderly fashion. Establishing a budget certainly will be a high priority,” Benge said.
Benge and Morgan agreed that one of their first priorities will be passage of the appropriation for K-12 schools.
Hobson and Hiett agreed to the following deadline schedule:
December 10: Bill request deadline;
January 4: Organizational Day (mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution);
January 20: Bill introduction deadline;
February 7: Session begins (mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution);
February 24: Deadline for bills to be reported out of committee in their house of origin;
March 17: Deadline for bills to be heard on third reading in their house of origin.
April 7: Deadline for bills to be reported out of committee in the opposite house;
April 28: Deadline for bills to be heard on third reading in the opposite house;
May 27: Sine Die adjournment (mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution).