Carl’s Capitol Comments: Finished committee work

The House of Representatives finished hearing bills in committee this past week. The next two weeks will be devoted to hearing bills on the House Floor.

Of the 1,987 House bills and joint resolutions introduced this year, only 503, or 25%, made it through the committee process. This compares to 494 measures that passed in committee in 2020 out of 1,378 filed, equaling 36%; and 450 of 1,756 in 2019 – 26%.

Some of the measures never made it to committee. Others received a do not pass recommendation – or too many no votes – to advance from committee.

Interestingly, committee votes are much different than floor votes. You are able to use a committee vote to send many different messages. For instance, a no vote in committee could force a bill’s author to come and talk to me to find out my reasoning. A no vote might make the bill’s author see the need to amend the bill to make it more amenable for my constituents. Of course, a no vote might simply be a way to express strong objection to a bill. No votes also alert legislative leaders that there might be problems or concerns with a particular piece of legislation. In recent years, I have received calls from the governor trying to find out why I was in opposition to a bill before he signed it into law.

Not all bills that pass in committee will be heard on the House floor. The majority floor leader and the speaker of the House have the ultimate say over which bills will be voted on by the entire House. The floor leader’s team scrutinizes each bill. If there are duplicate measures seeking the same outcome, for instance, they might work with the various authors to combine the needed legislation into one bill instead of multiple ones. Sometimes there’s unintended consequences a bill’s author didn’t contemplate. The floor leader’s team might ask for an amendment on the bill when it comes to floor or might suggest an author hold the bill for study during the interim.

As I stated before, the next two weeks will be devoted to hearing numerous bills in the House. March 11 is the deadline by which our bills have to pass to advance to the Senate and vice versa. After that, we’ll begin hearing Senate bills in our House committees.

This year, I am chair of the House Appropriations & Budget Natural Resources and Regulatory Services Subcommittee as well as a member of the overall House Appropriations and Budget Committee, Judiciary-Civil Committee and Public Health Committee. I’m also the chair of the State and Federal Redistricting for Northwest Oklahoma Subcommittee and a member of the State and Federal Redistricting Committee.

We have much work to do before our legislative session concludes, but we’re at least a fourth of the way toward the finish line.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at carl.newton@okhouse.gov, or phone me at 405-557-7339.  May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.

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