When we concluded the 2019 legislative session in June, it marked the end of a highly productive and successful legislative session. While the beginning of the 2020 session is still about half a year away, we’re already getting ready. Part of that work involves following up on legislative efforts instituted in 2019 as well as doing the research and holding hearings on issues that we’ll likely be taking up come next February.
I think one of the most innovative ideas to come out of the 2019 session was the creation of LOFT—the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency. The purpose is to be able to give lawmakers and the public tools to better hold agencies accountable through independent data on budgets and performance. This will be a nonpartisan, independent staff of highly educated professionals with oversight by a bipartisan committee of Senate and House members.
The oversight committee held its first meeting this past week, and I am one of three senators who have been appointed to draft the job description for the director of this new watchdog office. LOFT is not a new concept. More than 30 other states already have something like this to help oversee the use of tax dollars and provide greater transparency.
In the coming weeks, interim studies will be taking place at the State Capitol. During the regular session, each committee only has a few short weeks to consider and vote the hundreds of bills that have been introduced. It’s an efficient schedule, but one that doesn’t really have time for in-depth studies on complex issues. That’s where interim studies come in. These meetings give us the time we need to bring in experts, hold public hearings and more fully explore a particular issue. These studies will cover a range of topics from healthcare to education to commerce. In addition to interim committee work on these studies, I will be working with staff on legislation I’ll be introducing for the 2020 session.
And finally, I want to salute one of our districts most famous residents, internationally beloved fiddler Byron Berline of Guthrie. We were truly saddened when we heard about last February’s fire that destroyed the iconic Double-Stop Fiddle Shop and Music Hall in Guthrie. Irreplaceable instruments, photos and other memorabilia were lost in that fire, but the music was not stopped. The entire community and musicians and fans from all over Oklahoma rallied around Byron who has now moved to a new location in Guthrie. I want to thank everyone who has helped support Byron and thank him for everything he has done and continues to do to promote music, Guthrie and the great state of Oklahoma.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com.