Oklahoma Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat announces Interim Studies, City-area legislators to play key roles
By Darla Shelden on July 28, 2020
The City Sentinel Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – The leader of the Oklahoma Senate has released the list of approved studies for the 2020 interim.
Senators submitted 64 requests and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said in a press release to The City Sentinel and other news organizations that 39 study requests were approved. Treat’s announcement came late last week.
Members of both parties from the Oklahoma City area will be “players” in the coming months, in terms of studying substantive policy ideas.
Treat said the interim study requests were assigned to the standing Senate policy committee with jurisdiction over the subject matter of the request. Now that the studies have been assigned to Senate committees, committee chairs will determine when to conduct the studies, Treat said.
This legislative interim presents logistical challenges which led to fewer interim studies being approved, Treat said. Due to the ongoing renovation of the Capitol, the Senate only has one available committee room for use this interim. Treat also said the Senate intends to implement social distancing due to COVID-19 which further limits the ability to hold more studies.
“In a typical year, we can accommodate most interim study requests. But this is not a typical year. With only one Senate committee room available for use and the need to implement social distancing due to COVID, we limited each senator to no more than two approved study requests. There are some great topics to cover this year and I look forward to what ideas develop during interim studies,” Treat said.
Treat announced he will guide a study on “Law Enforcement Policies: use of force, de-escalation, and real world applications,” working with thePublic Safety Committee.
The President Pro Temp will also guide “A study of the 2020 reforms to the Open Meetings Act and future opportunities to leverage technologies to better serve Oklahomans.” That interim study will work its way through the Rules Committee, arguably the most important of all Senate panels.
Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd will have two important interim studies as a result of Treat’s process. With the General Government Committee, the Oklahoma City Democrat will lead a “Study regarding state employees teleworking, the effects of telework, and access to technology pre- and post- COVID-19.”
With the Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Floyd will direct a “Study regarding hotline reporting for various state agencies and advocacy groups in Oklahoma.”
Sen. Paul Rosino gained approval of two studies that will work through the Business, Commerce and Tourism committee. The Oklahoma City Republican, whose district follows a “U-shape” around the south side of Oklahoma City, will guide a study touching the “Oklahoma Air Service Development Grant Pilot Program: offer financial assistance by grant to private or public entities for assisting commercial air service development.” Rosino is also leading a look at “Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) economic advancement and potential increase for economic development in Oklahoma.”
Senate Adam Pugh of Edmond will work with the Public Safety Committee for “A study on the Center of Excellence and ONENET utilizing tag agents to provide full privatization of drivers’ licensing services.”
Floyd’s fellow Democrats from the Oklahoma City gained approval to study a significant cluster of issues between now and year’s end.
Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, will lead a pair of studies, both through the Rules Commitee. The first is a “Study on equality issues relating to racial discrimination and bias, state agencies and employees, communities, organizations and businesses of this state.” The second is “A study on community racial impact statements, specifically proposed legislation’s effects on the incarceration rate of certain demographics and burgeoning DOC [Department of Corrections] population.”
Sen. Michael Brooks-Jimenez, D-Oklahoma City, secured support for a study focused On “Minority Businesses: to explore ways to incentivize and grow minority businesses in historically disadvantaged locations, to be managed with the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, will guide, with the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee an IS (independent study) “Examining the diabetes standards of care and needed insurance coverage to prevent negative health outcomes for individuals with diabetes.” Sen. Hicks will also guide, through the Health and Human Services Committee, “A consumer safety inquiry into the sale of padded crib bumpers and risks of suffocation and strangulation.”
SenatorJulia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, will, with the Health and Human Services Committee, work on “A study on transitions for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities from public schools to further education, employment, and independent living.”
A top Republican leader in the upper chamber, Roger Thompson of Okemah, will work with Sen. Kirt on “Examining the potential for the Pay for Success (PFS) innovative contracting model to be used in more areas of Oklahoma’s social programs to improve outcomes.” That study will process through the Appropriations Committee, another powerful panel each and every legislative session.
Senator Mary Boren of Norman gained approval for “A study on the state’s use of debit cards to deliver state benefits and if it could be accomplished within the state of Oklahoma without having to use a company like Conduet.” The first-term Democrat’s study will be under the umbrella of the Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.
The list of approved studies is available at the state Senate website. When meetings for the interim studies are scheduled, Senate committees will send hearing notices, which also will be published on the Senate website.
Treat said interim studies must be completed by Friday, October 30.
NOTE: Publisher Pat McGuigan, who also is editor for CapitolBeatOK, an online news service focused on state and government, contributed to this report, incorporating details about the topics from the state Senate website.