Lack of Senate Action Does Not Bode Well for House Bills
Senate Republican leaders said Thursday that Senate Democrats seem intent on keeping the Senate’s reputation as the Legislature’s “graveyard for good legislation” by refusing to schedule committee hearings for dozens of good public policy legislation authored by Republicans. A Senate bill that did not receive a committee hearing by Thursday is dead for the session.
“The Senate’s reputation as the Legislature’s graveyard for good legislation remains alive and well,” stated Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “The Democrat majority is continuing their tradition of ignoring good public policy legislation authored by Republicans. In dozens of cases, a single chairman has unilaterally killed a bill without debate by not giving it a committee hearing.”
Democrat committee chairs in the Senate refused to allow committee hearings for a wide range of GOP-authored bills, from lawsuit reform to tax relief for active duty military personnel to several pro-life and pro-marriage measures.
“Their actions are a real contrast with Senate Republicans, who have shown we will work in a bipartisan fashion when we see a good idea from the other party – just as we did on the higher ed bond issue,” Coffee said.
“What we have seen so far from the Democrat leadership and committee chairs does not bode well for the good reform legislation being sent to the Senate by the House of Representatives. If Senate Democrat leaders keep up their obstructionism, it will be a recipe for gridlock later in the session,” stated Sen. Nancy Riley, R-Tulsa.
Sen. James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, said the Senate majority defeated a proposed change to the Senate Rules in January that would have allowed popular bills to receive a hearing over a committee chairman’s objections.
“My amendment would have reformed the Senate Rules to require a hearing on a bill if half that committee’s members and the bill’s author asked for it. But their leadership didn’t want to give up the ability to unilaterally kill good public policy without debate and without a public hearing,” Williamson said.
Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, authored several bills that did not receive a hearing.
“Our last meeting of the Finance Committee had only a single Republican-authored bill out of a total of 30 bills on the agenda. A lot of great bills died simply because the chairman didn’t want to schedule a hearing for them,” Reynolds said.
Senator Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, was the author of several bills reforming the tax code and limiting the growth of state government spending that were not heard.
“The Senate Democrats are about keeping the status quo in Oklahoma. They have sent a strong message that if your bill reforms state government, or if it strengthens marriage, or if it reforms the tax code, or if it protects the unborn, you can forget about it getting a hearing in the Senate,” Brogdon stated.