The Second Session of the 55th legislature will go down as one of the most unusual legislative sessions in recent years. The stage was set by a $1.3 billion budget hole. Being a huge election year, filing mid-session was another huge impact on issues as the legislators continually had their elections on their minds as they considered legislation. Adequate funding for Medicare, teachers, mental health and many others were heavy topics that the legislature discussed. However, there was no new money to adequately fund those areas of need. Despite all of this, OML had a successful year by getting HB 2531 - E-Fairness and HB 3126 - 9-1-1 Reform which were two issues OML has worked on for many years. (You can read more on these two bills in the bill summary.)
Thank you to the OML Municipal Liaison Board who has worked tirelessly for many years in conjunction with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to address compliance and efficiencies within their agency. These efforts not only benefit the State but municipalities as well. A special kudos to Bob Ponkilla, OKC, and Ross VanderHamm, Edmond, who along with Missy Dean, Director of Government Affairs, visited with Governor Mary Fallin, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations, Treasurer Ken Miller, Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Speaker Jeff Hickman, Pro-Tempore designate Mike Schulz and Speaker-designate Charles McCall about the need for more funding for OTC to enhance compliance efforts that would potentially bring in more revenue to the State as well as cities and towns. The money will be used for compliance efforts to potentially bring in more revenue to the State as well as cities and towns. This effort proved successful in that OTC received an increase in funding of $49 million to be used for enhancing compliance and audit efforts.
The Sine Die is OML’s annual report featuring a legislative wrap-up of the bills that were enacted, defeated and vetoed. You will be able to access the full bill content in this report by clicking on the bill number. Sometimes the most difficult task is working to defeat bad legislation. OML was successful in doing just that on several pieces of legislation which are also included in this report. One of the most popular features of the Sine Die report continues to be the section that provides a breakdown by municipal department and the bills that may impact that department.
At the publishing of this report, the Oklahoma House of Representatives had requested 69 Interim Studies, but none have been approved at this time. The Senate had not yet filed any interim studies. Those studies that have an impact on municipal government and the ones that OML will be covering are included in this report. As the studies in both houses are approved, we will notify you through the weekly OML Insight and on the Legislative Page of the OML website.
In an organization the size of the Oklahoma Municipal League, there will often be different views of issues by our members. One of the roles of the Legislative Committee is to direct the League in making decisions on issues and the course of action to take. This brings great weight and importance to this committee. All legislative committee recommendations are forwarded to the OML Board. As the policy makers of the League, the OML Board will consider for approval the recommendations from the Legislative Committee. Thanks to our Chairwoman Joan Riley and to each and every member of the OML Legislative Committee, your tireless efforts and contributions this past session are valuable and greatly appreciated.
We will continue our efforts to communicate effectively with legislators, mayors, city managers, councilmember’s, clerk-treasurer’s and all other municipal officials to ensure continued success. It is important to stay in contact with your local legislators during the interim and continue to communicate the municipal message.
OML is your organization. Together we provide a strong voice for Oklahoma municipalities. The number one ingredient for success at the legislature and state agencies is a united collective municipal voice. Thank you so much for being a part of the OML family and for the role you played to ensure a successful legislative session.