Work continues during the interim | Community

By Rep. Cynthia Roe

While the Legislative Assembly has been in the interim since the regular session officially ended in late May, House members are busy behind the scenes preparing for interim studies, special sessions and a special committee of inquiry.

The interim study I’m focusing on this year is the one I’m co-hosting with Senator Jessica Garvin.

Interim Study 22-047 will examine the factors that influence Oklahoma women’s quality of life and look at what we can do to improve those outcomes.

The study has not yet been planned, but when it is, I will provide more details about who is expected to speak and when the study will take place.

I am also working to schedule four interim studies before the committee I chair, the House Public Health Committee.

These studies cover a wide variety of topics, from dental insurance plans to post-traumatic stress and the shortage of nurses.

Details of other interim studies can be viewed on by visiting the “Committees” section and clicking on “Interim Studies.” The first studies are scheduled for the last week of August.

While our regular legislative session is over, the Legislative Assembly is expected to reschedule our special session in the coming months. We have two extraordinary sessions going on simultaneously, although neither is meeting at this time.

The first special session was called by the governor to approve tax relief for Oklahomans.

It’s tough economic times right now, and the House has broadly backed a slate of bills that would provide personal income tax and state grocery sales tax cuts.

However, after the House approved these bills in the special session, they were stalled in the Senate, where they remain. The Senate can seize these bills at any time.

Our other special session was called by the Legislature to deal with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that have not yet been distributed. We have organized several committees and sub-committees to sort through the hundreds of proposals for these funds, and we will return to a special session before early November to approve them.

Many members of the House are also members of a special investigative committee.

In March, we learned that Swadley’s Bar-BQ had inflated the prices of amenities at its restaurants, which had locations in six state parks, and those extra costs had been billed to the tourism department.

In response, the House formed a special commission of inquiry to examine the potential misuse of taxpayers’ money through deals with Tourism Department suppliers. Law enforcement will determine if the laws have been broken, but our job is to determine if the laws need to change to prevent this in the future.

At the first meeting in May, the committee heard from Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) Director Mike Jackson, who said Oklahoma taxpayers could have saved $12.4 million if the processes proper procedures had been followed when contracting with Swadley’s.

The Select Committee of Inquiry will continue to meet over the coming months to ensure that the House turns every stone. I am not a member of the committee, but I follow their conclusions very closely. Our citizens deserve and demand the highest level of transparency and accountability we can provide.

Our regular legislative session does not last the whole year, but the many functions of a legislator never take a break.

Please contact us with any questions or thoughts you wish to share. You can reach me at (405) 557-7365 or [email protected] Thank you for the honor of serving House District 42!

(Rep. Cynthia Roe, a Republican, serves Oklahoma’s House of Representatives District 42, which covers Garvin and McClain counties.)

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