OKLAHOMA CITY - As hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans prepare to vote in the primary elections next week, lawmakers prepare to possibly return for another special session.
Governor Mary Fallin stated this week, she would call the Legislature to return if State Question 788 over medical marijuana passes. Lawmakers would be tasked with creating the framework and rules for the initiative.
"The great thing about this vote is that the people are going to tell us what they want us to do, not the other way around," said House majority floor leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City. "What the House has an interest in doing is very simple things, like should there be a limit on the number of dispensaries? There are lots of folks in the pro-788 community who would like that. Should we look at the possibility of a cannabis commission instead of the Department of Health?"
Rep. Echols told News 4 on Thursday, he and other members of the House have been speaking with constituents and organizations ahead of the vote.
"Everyone from Jed Green who's running the SQ 788 campaign, the state chamber, from Bud Scott, both people for 788, both people with concerns with 788," he said. "What we’re trying to figure out is how do we effectuate the will of the people? How do we make sure Oklahoma has the best system it can have?"
Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, said he, too, is bracing for the possible special session.
"I believe that the Republicans and Democrats in the House believe that if the voters choose to pass 788, then we need to keep the core of that state question intact," Rep. Bennett said. "It’ll be difficult, but I’m hoping that we’re all going to be able to come together and make this happen."
Across the rotunda, construction crews continue to work on the Capitol restoration project. Trait Thompson, State Capitol project manager, said the building is still open to the public, however, many of the Senate offices and entrances to the gallery won't be ready for use until January.
"A lot of the construction work we’re doing is on the 4th and 5th floor Senate office area, so a lot of Senate staff has been moved to other areas in the building," Thomspon said. "We’re working in an occupied building so that always presents its challenges particularly during the legislative session."
According to Thompson, the exterior of the Capitol is expected to be completed in the middle of 2019. The interior will be completed in 2022. The project began about three years ago.
"We’ll work with Senate leadership. I’m sure they’ll come up with a way to do the people’s business. We’ve done that since the very beginning of this project," he said.
The total cost for construction is roughly $245 million.