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Oklahoma Legislature adjourns one week early

Having passed a state budget and debated hundreds of bills over the past three months, the Oklahoma Legislature is done for the year.

Like schoolchildren hearing the final bell before the summer break, state lawmakers cheered Thursday as the House and Senate adjourned for the year.

House Speaker Charles McCall praised his members for finding solutions to the problems of everyday Oklahomans.

“There’s always much more work to be done, but we will take that up in the interim to be prepared for next session,” he said. “I’m proud of you … . We are one Oklahoma.”

This session may be one of the Legislature’s least contentious sessions in recent history.

Oklahoma has a part-time Legislature that begins session every year in early February. The Legislature is required to adjourn by 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.

This session marked a year after teachers camped out at the Capitol for two weeks demanding more classroom funding.

And instead of the tight budgets that have raised tensions in the Capitol in previous years, lawmakers this year crafted the state budget around a rare $600 million surplus.

Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd said the contentious budget fight last year that led the Legislature to pass tax hikes to fund education improved Oklahoma’s economic picture this year.

“We were reaping the rewards of some tough times last session, and I’m pleased that we’re now able to get some funding to the needs of the state,” she said.

A new governor in the executive branch also changed the environment in the Capitol.

As he walked through the House gallery on Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt shook hands with lawmakers.

Reflecting back on his first legislative session, Stitt praised his relationship with McCall and Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat.

“We’ve changed the culture here,” he said. “The vision of Oklahoma is starting to be implemented. We are working together like never before.”

Technically, the Legislature won’t officially adjourn until 5 p.m. May 31, but lawmakers have left the Capitol and are unlikely to return next week.

This strategy for wrapping up the session prevents what is known as pocket veto, which is when a governor indirectly vetoes a bill at the end of a session by not acting on it.

In Oklahoma, the governor has five days to act on bills passed up to five days of the the session's end and 15 days on bills passed within the last five days.

Perhaps the most important legislation awaiting action from the governor are the budget bills passed by the House and Senate.

Related Photos
<strong>The Oklahoma Legislature is finishing its session early on Thursday, May 23, 2019, putting an end to its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his legislative to-do list. [AP file]</strong>

The Oklahoma Legislature is finishing its session early on Thursday, May 23, 2019, putting an end to its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his legislative to-do list. [AP file]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-343e6d8a9597a6cc3bc70aa6192c60ed.jpg" alt="Photo - The Oklahoma Legislature is finishing its session early on Thursday, May 23, 2019, putting an end to its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his legislative to-do list. [AP file] " title=" The Oklahoma Legislature is finishing its session early on Thursday, May 23, 2019, putting an end to its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his legislative to-do list. [AP file] "><figcaption> The Oklahoma Legislature is finishing its session early on Thursday, May 23, 2019, putting an end to its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his legislative to-do list. [AP file] </figcaption></figure>
Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›

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