Farm Bureau's Steve Thompson Offers Color Commentary of the Only Day in April Lawmakers Will Meet- and What's Ahead for Balance of the 2020 SessionTue, 07 Apr 2020 03:46:28 CDT
Under strict health and safety measures, the Oklahoma Legislature convened for a historic special session on Monday, April 6 to respond to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s statewide health emergency declaration.
Both the House and Senate affirmed the governor’s unprecedented emergency actions as legislators entered the severely restricted state Capitol for the first time since March 17.
Now in effect, the declaration allows the executive branch to centralize state and county health department response efforts, let first responders know if they are responding to a location with a COVID-19 patient, and the governor to waive certain laws and rules for the purpose of the pandemic response, according to a release by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The House and Senate also briefly reconvened the 2020 regular session to stabilize the current fiscal year’s budget. A combination of factors related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recent downturn in oil prices has led to a projected $416 million revenue shortfall. Three bills were passed that shift state funds from reserve accounts into accessible locations so that state agencies will be able to meet their obligations for the rest of fiscal year 2020.
At the conclusion of Monday’s activity, the Legislature again adjourned to an uncertain future date. After the Monday session, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Steve Thompson, Senior Director of Public Policy of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau about the day's events at the Capitol and what may lie ahead for the Legislature when they eventually do return to 23rd and Lincoln to set a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 and perhaps do a limited number of other bills that are singled out by leadership for consideration.
Thompson tells Hays that "the session is not likely to reconvene until an agreement is reached on the fiscal year 2021 budget. At that time, a limited number of policy bills are expected to be considered, but the situation remains exceptionally fluid."
Hear their complete conversation about the one day meeting by the lawmakers- likely to be their only day of meeting during April, by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
The brief 2020 regular session held Monday was not without controversy. According to the website NonDoc- "What seemed to be a simple agreement to address Oklahoma’s revenue failure turned into a cancelled meeting, an elongated day and a dispute between the Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt over funding for his priority of digital transformation projects. In the end, the Legislature’s upper chamber accepted the bills advanced by its lower chamber without addressing — for now — the governor’s desire to retain the full $15 million approved for digital transformation of state government last year."
Read their complete review of the actions at the state capitol on Monday by clicking or tapping here.
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