Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature will convene for regular session work at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 12. Each chamber faces a jam-packed schedule, but most of the day’s measures seem poised for approval – although, to be clear, it is always risky to predict such things.
In the Senate, 29 measures that originated in the House will be considered, as well as a single Senate resolution recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention month. The Senate agenda for Monday can be studied online here.
The pace will be brisk as the upper chamber begins to process measures for passage … or not.
Regardless of the substance of individual proposals, the biggest news of the day might be former Rep. John R. Bennett’s opening prayer. A former member of the House, Bennett is, among other things, now minister for the Lee Creek Assembly of God in Muldrow.
Bennett has been back in the news in recent days, with many news organizations looking back at his efforts, while a member of the Legislature, opposing the annual Muslim Day at the state Capitol, and along the way forging a tense relationship with Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.
Last week, at the request of Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, Dr. Enchassi served as Senate chaplain.
Senator Mark Allen, R-Spiro, tagged Rev. Bennett as chaplain for this Monday, April 12.
This weekend, Bennett prevailed in three-person contest to become chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He defeated former state Rep. Charles Ortega and former Luther Mayor Jenni White to take the chairman’s post.
Speaking of Sen. Hicks, her Senate Bill 44, is up for consideration on the other side of the fourth floor under the Dome of the Capitol.
The opening gavel for the House will bring the prayers of Joel Harder (chaplain of the week), and recognition for Army veteran veteran of the week Denver Horn. Speaker Charles McCall will present the Tishomingo softball team (state champions).
Then, actual votes will commence will the lower chamber’s consideration of the Child Abuse Prevention month designation for April.
In all, the House is expected to race through the yays and nays on a total of 59 proposals.
The Hicks bill (S.B. 44) is one among many of interest — as a moderate criminal justice reform with conservative support — for cutting some slack for those who fail to appear in court if they were “incarcerated or otherwise detained by law enforcement at the time of the failure to appear.” The measure cleared the upper chamber unanimously. The House sponsor is state Rep. Judd Strom, R-Copan.