The House of Representatives adjourned  sine die” on Friday March 25th at about 2:30 PM. The Senate had adjourned for the last time the night before at about 11:30 at night. The two adjournments ended the first session of the 51st Legislature in a timely manner.

During the last week time is a precious commodity and delay can mean the death of a bill. On Wednesday there were rumblings in the hallway of the Senate adjourning early and not coming in on Friday. That meant all House bills that needed to be heard by the Senate must be passed out by Thursday.

I had just rejected a conference committee report on a bill that brought Oklahoma into compliance with Federal laws dealing with sex offenders. It established a three tier system to better enable law enforcement to identify the risk level of offenders.

I had about 30 hours to get the bill signed out of committee again and through both chambers, I went to work immediately to get the bill passed before “sine die”. There wasn’t much time. It had taken four months to get the bill passed the first two times.  

I had already contacted the legal department to make the necessary changes. They sent it to bill processing to print the bill and get a copy to sign out to the Conference Committees.  About thirty minutes after I returned from supper, the bill was sent to my office.

The next step was to get the necessary signatures from the House side to get the bill out of conference committee. Since all members were on the floor passing bills, this was not too difficult. This was the fourth time they had seen this bill and the only change was to take out a section.

That night I went to the Senate and talked to the Chairmen of the General Conference Committee on Appropriations in the Senate and asked them to hear the bill in committee the next morning. They indicated that they would if they had another meeting. The last meeting had been cancelled because several of the members refused to attend because they wanted another bill changed. I needed 25 Senators to sign the Committee report to get the bill back.

However, they met the next afternoon and passed the bill out and sent it to my legislative assistant. She filed 19 copies of the bill in the Chief Clerks office and scheduled the bill to be heard with the Floor Leaders office. At this point there were only eight hours left before the Senate adjourned.

Four hours later my bill was heard on the House floor. It passed easily and went to the Enrolling and Engrossing Department. An hour later it came back to my desk as the presiding officer and I signed it and it went to the Senate. I t was now about 9:00 on Thursday night.

I had already spoken to the Senate’s Floor Leader, Senator Owen Laughlin, and he had promised to hear the bill before they adjourned. About an hour later they heard the bill and passed it, about 45 minutes before they adjourned.

The next day the House heard Senate bills that had already passed the Senate and only needed our approval to go the Governor’s desk. Both chambers had finished their work with time to spare.