Whew! It just got a little bit easier for advocates to focus on what is going on at the Legislature.
Last week the list of living bills shrunk as we passed the March 10th deadline for bills to make it out of either the full House or the full Senate. As you may recall, we had nearly 3,500 active bills when we started this legislative session back on February 1st. We’re down to just over 1,000 bills still active. While that is still a lot of legislation, it is a little more manageable. To make it even easier for you keep track, the Oklahoma Policy Institute has highlighted some priority bills here in their bill tracker. If you ever have questions about the legislative process, you can always check out the 2016 Legislative Primer.
The Budget Emergency
School children, sick people, college students, and many other citizens are seeing major decreases in quality of the state services they receive because of state budget cuts. So if you only ask your legislator about one thing this session, it needs to be “What are you planning to do about the budget emergency?” It is hard to over-emphasize what a serious budget emergency we have on our hands. It’s reached the point where we’re talking about cutting down to a 4-day school week, cancelling bus service for most students, eliminating child abuse prevention programs, closing numerous county health departments, and trying to kick more than 100,000 Oklahomans off of their Medicaid health insurance.
We can avoid the worst of these cuts by adopting reasonable revenue options. Hopefully you know about these reasonable solutions to the budget emergency that we are suggesting. Now it is time for YOU to talk to your legislators and let us know what you learn about they are planning to do. The two legislators who represent you need to know that you care about the budget and that you expect them to engage in the process early and often.
Counting down to Filing Day
In the November 2014 elections, nearly two-thirds of Oklahoma’s House Representatives and half of the Senators up for reelection took office without facing an opponent. What will the election look like in 2016? We are counting down the days until Oklahomans can file to run for office (April 13th-15th) with questions like:
- Is either of your state legislators retiring this year because they’ve reached their term limit?
- What are some reasons people decide to run for office?
- Did your legislators draw a challenger in their last election or did they run unopposed?
Oklahomans from all over the state are joining our Facebook event and answering these questions with us each day. You can invite your friends to join, share the questions to get folks interested in local elections, and answer these questions together with your TOK district groups to make sure you know what is going on with the elections upon which you can have the most impact.