under the dome: The week ahead should be relatively quiet on Capitol Hill as lawmakers regroup for another round of the legislative process.
But it won’t stay that way for long. Joint bills and resolutions passed in the original chamber in the first six weeks of session now have until mid-April to go through the committees on the other side of the rotunda.
Thursday’s original House deadline left about 280 joint bills and resolutions and 470 Senate Actions by General Order, meaning they can no longer be heard this session.
About 700 joint bills and resolutions remain active, but many of them are duplicates or near duplicates.
Yes : Among the bills that passed the House and Senate last week:
Senate Bill 1860, by Senator Greg McCortney, R-Ada. Despite being the lowest under the public radar, this measure has been the subject of intense lobbying by various interests involved in the prescription drug business.
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SB 1860 aims to prevent prescription benefit plans and drugstore chains from crowding out independent pharmacists, with both sides warning of dire consequences and unfair business practices.
House Bill 2351, by Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City. This passed unanimously on Wednesday night after members ran out on taxes, medical marijuana and transgender athletes.
The bill prohibits “any individual or entity or subsidiary of an entity who represents a state official, campaigning for state elective office, or campaigning for a state initiative or referendum.” to be awarded a contract with the State. The bill has implications for several high-level political officials.
SB 1535, by Senator Adam Pugh, R-Edmond. It is an overhaul of teacher evaluation and professional development that repeals the leader teacher effectiveness evaluation system and creates a teacher mentorship program.
Moments of tension: Long days, emotional issues, and maybe a bit of grandstanding can shorten tempers. In early Oklahoma, brawls were not unheard of on the House and Senate floors, and more than one lawmaker was suffocated by an inkwell.
It didn’t come to that last week in the House, but Democrats were outraged by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, repeatedly calling them the ‘Party of Death’ during debate on a bill on abortion, even after being reprimanded by the presiding officer as a violation of House rules against challenging other members.
Roberts, whose term is limited and who is mounting a long-running campaign to oust 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas, was accused of using the debate as a stump speech.
A day later, Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, described transgender people as “mentally ill,” which Democrats took as an insult to Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, who is the only non-binary member of the Legislative Assembly.
Campaigns and elections: State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, said she will not seek reelection after serving three terms representing Home District 70 in Downtown and South Tulsa.
Bush’s announcement came around the same time Suzanne Schreiber, who is leaving the Tulsa school board next month, said she was a candidate for the HD 70 seat.
“My approach isn’t complicated or technical,” said Schreiber, who is running as a Democrat. “We must put people above politics, solve real problems and work together to choose practical solutions that have a real impact on the lives of all Oklahomans.”
Schreiber is an attorney and senior program officer at the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Republican Brad Banks, a paving contractor, registered an HD 70 campaign committee.
State Rep. Avery Frix has become the third Republican from Muskogee to join the fight to succeed 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
Frix joins Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee and pharmacist Chris Schiller.
Early in-person mail-in voting for the April 5 election begins Thursday at county election commission offices.
Thursday is also the last day to change party affiliation ahead of the June 28 primaries and August 23 runoff election. New registrations will be accepted until June 3.
US Senator James Lankford announced the endorsement of fellow Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. Scott campaigned with Lankford in Edmond on Friday.
POWhER PAC, a political action committee supporting Republican female candidates in Oklahoma, has endorsed limited-time state senator Kim David, R-Porter, who is running for the Corporation Commission.
To entice donors, 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern’s re-election campaign and U.S. Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer’s campaign offered chances to win a trip to Dallas to see former President Donald Trump on May 9.
Joshua Harris-Till, former national chairman of the Young Democrats, said he was running in the 5th congressional district. Harris-Till previously ran unsuccessfully in CD 2.
Lankford spoke to Sapulpa last week.
Matt-ing: Oklahoma lieutenant governors aren’t usually very controversial, and current No. 2 Matt Pinnell hasn’t been much different.
Last week, however, the state Democratic Party unloaded on Pinnell, calling him “Pinnell Who?”, while Pinnell’s office issued a few press releases, which he rarely does, endorsing legislation that eases restrictions on the use of adjunct teachers in common education. and would significantly expand high-speed internet access in the state.
To this day, no Democrat — or Republican, for that matter — is challenging Pinnell for re-election, so it’s not entirely clear why he suddenly appeared in the crosshairs of the opposition. They shot him later in the week after a Frontier report on a so far failed move to establish destination-type restaurants in select state parks.
“How has Pinnell made a difference for freedom and choice in the communities he represents?” said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Alicia Andrews. “He’s a lieutenant to all Oklahomans, not just those he wants to hide out with in his whitewashed communities, ruling from a distance and mourning family values.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, Pinnell is seen as a likely GOP gubernatorial candidate four years from now, when incumbent Kevin Stitt is term-limited.
Meetings and events: Heart of the Party, the Tulsa chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women, will meet at 6 p.m. April 4 at Baxter’s Interurban, 717 S. Houston Ave.
Bottom lines: Governor Kevin Stitt begins the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Governor’s Relay Challenge with a 2-mile practice run at 6:15 a.m. Monday… According to the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council, an associate professor from the Oklahoma State University has, at least temporarily, withdrawn a lawsuit claiming she was denied a promotion because of her year of service in the Trump administration and conflicting political views with those of his immediate superiors.
—Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World