On Monday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature and kicked off the 58th legislative session. The Governor laid out three main priorities: making Oklahoma a top 10 state for business, delivering taxpayers more for their money and investing in fellow Oklahomans.
According to Stitt, the state budget is on solid footing because they re-opened businesses during the pandemic. Lawmakers will have an estimated $631 million more to spend this year but will have to make up for a $1 billion ‘one time’ revenue drop.
Legislators will need to appropriate funds to pay for the Medicare expansion voters approved last summer. The expansion must happen by July and the state’s share is 10% or about $160 million.
Supreme Court Ruling on Native Lands
Another pressing issue, which could impact the energy industry, is the Supreme Court ruling on McGirt vs. Oklahoma, which the Council previously analyzed. There are still unresolved questions about who will regulate agriculture, water, energy and zoning on the reservation.
During a meeting with the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance, where the issue was discussed, Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter said, “One of my most important responsibilities is protecting the state’s economic activities.”
Gov. Stitt noted that more than 3,000 Oklahomans died from COVID-19 in 2020. The state went through a reopening over the summer, which included trying to return to in-person schooling. However, after outbreaks and teacher shortages, the state is reassessing a safer return by focusing on getting teachers vaccinated.
Visitors to the capitol must wear a mask. All proceedings will be livestreamed and the number of people allowed in committee rooms will be restricted. Lawmakers are encouraged to wear masks.
For more information on state government affairs, contact Senior Vice President Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.