Last week marked the first major committee deadline of the 2022 legislative session. All bills that passed their respective committees will continue to advance through the legislative process, while those that didn’t pass or failed to be heard are now dormant for the remainder of the session.
This week both the House and Senate chambers will shift their focus from committee work to floor work where bills will be available for consideration by the full chamber until March 24. While the Legislature typically only has two weeks of scheduled floor work between the committee and floor deadlines, both chambers moved the floor deadline back a full week to avoid placing a deadline on Oklahoma’s spring break week. The additional week will provide some breathing room for both the House and Senate, but spring break week – which historically has seen lighter agendas and shortened work weeks – will likely have a full schedule.
Throughout the first few weeks of session, Oklahoma Farm Bureau closely followed two bills to expand county governing authority. OKFB members were concerned with the potential ramifications of the bills, including implementation of county zoning and increased regulatory burden across unincorporated, rural areas in Oklahoma. OKFB is pleased to report that both HB 2990 by Rep. Carol Bush and SB 1182 by Sen. Dave Rader did not receive approval by either of their assigned committees ahead of Thursday’s deadline. While both bills are dormant and not available for further consideration this session, OKFB will continue to closely monitor remaining legislation to ensure similar language is not placed in any measures considered by either chamber.
HB 2991 by Rep. Rick West would allow students who miss school to participate in a 4-H activity to have their absence marked as an excused absence. While many schools currently do record absences for 4-H activities as an excused absence, HB 2991 would ensure that students across the state are not adversely affected when missing class to participate in 4-H programs that provide students with various educational opportunities outside of the classroom. HB 2991 received approval from the House Common Education committee and is now available for consideration by the full House.
Additionally, a package of bills targeting issues related to ad valorem protests passed out of the House Utilities committee this week. HB 4413 by Rep. Dick Lowe seeks to remove third-party assessors from ad valorem protest negotiations. Currently, third-party assessors have incentive to avoid settlements and prolong negotiations, which is believed to be fueling the increase in protests and lengthy disputes. This creates growing financial burdens and uncertainty for the school systems that rely on ad valorem revenue for their operating budgets.
HB 3901 by Rep. John Pfeiffer would move ad valorem valuation appeals from District Courts to the Court of Tax Review in hopes of speeding up the court process. Current valuation protests often drag on for several years, causing a budget hole for recipients of those funds.
With the committee deadline in the rearview mirror, OKFB will dig deeper into the remaining bills over the course of the legislative session.
For an update on weekly happenings at the Capitol and an outlook on what is ahead, be sure to tune in to Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s Weekly public policy update each Friday at noon via Zoom.