This week is Pre-Session at the Capitol. Committees are meeting and beginning the process of going through all the bills. There are 1,078 bills that have been filed on the House side and another 1,034 filed on the Senate side. Each of these bills has been assigned to a committee.
As committee chair of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Committee I will read each bill and decided whether or not to hear the bill in this committee. If a chairman decides not to hear a bill, then the bill is dead unless the full House votes by a majority to bring the bill out of committee.
There are several reasons why a bill might not get heard, Sometimes there are two or three bills that are very similar and only one bill needs to get a hearing. Other times, the chair might feel that the bill does not make a substantial enough change to warrant a hearing. The chair might also oppose what the bill does and decide not to bring it up to be considered by that committee.
For these and other reasons, not every bill will get a hearing. However, each bill has the next five weeks to be heard or it will not pass this session. The next week all bills must have passed the chamber in which they originated.
Last week we had budget meetings and heard from the agencies from the A & B subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary. The process of determining the budget for Fiscal Year 2007 has already begun.
Growth revenue for the year is projected at $314 million dollars. There will also be a surplus of revenue of about $400 million dollars. However this money can only be used for one time expenditures and not ongoing expenses.
There will also be requests for supplemental funding for several agencies. Right now there are requests for over $120 million although the money available for these requests is about $168 million. However, about $110 to $130 million will be needed for the cash demands of the new fiscal year.
One of the problems with funding revenue is the poor performance of three bills passed during the last couple of years. The revenue from the lottery continues to fall below the lowest projections made by the Office of State Finance. The casino gaming money has also failed to live up to any estimates. It is running about 75% below projections as of the last quarter of earnings. The tobacco tax is also running well below the projections made by the Governor and the Office of State Finance.
Next week the Session officially begins and the work of deciding what is best for the state of Oklahoma begins in earnest. I will try to keep you informed about all that is happening at the Capitol. Make sure to keep in touch with me so I can best represent you and District 61.
Boise City News