Legislators look back on pandemic-shortened session

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Friday, the Oklahoma Legislature wrapped up the 2020 session a week early.

“You know all things considered, I’d give this session a B-plus,” said Rep Jon Echols.

The House Majority Leader from Oklahoma City says passing a cost of living raise for state retirees and medical and teacher licensing reform were wins in the recently wrapped-up and significantly COVID- 19 shortened 2020 Legislative Session.

“Loosing over half the session not being able to do the committee process that’s been a big concern for us,” said Sen.Kay Floyd, (D) Oklahoma City.

Senate leaders saying time only allowed for the most pressing issues.

“We took care of the budget, we took care of core issues, we felt, were important to take care of,” said Sen. Greg Treat.

“There were some bills that went through and some bills that almost went through that should have gone through the full process, so we could have public input, so we could have proper vetting,” said Kay Floyd, Senate Minority Leader.

All agree the cooperation to get things done amid the virus was extraordinary.

“Really working through the COVID situation was unprecedented. It was incredibly difficult,”said Echols.

“The House and the Senate worked, at least since I’ve been here, in unprecedented ways together,” said Senate Pro Temp Greg Treat.

But some are questioning the actions of the executive branch during the pandemic.

“The Governor has brought in a lot of new people, as is his right, and it couldn’t have been a worse time, and no one knew we were going to have the virus, but we do and we have lost institutional memory in having people that were there and had been there for 10-15-20 years, would have been very, very helpful to navigate the uncharted waters that we are in right now,” said Floyd.

Many are left wondering what will be the lasting effects of a Republican Governor doing battle with a Republican dominated Legislature.

The governor vetoed 18 bills, the Legislature overrode 6 of those.

“You have a response to COVID in the middle of this, you have budget problems, so communication was extremely good between the chambers. It probably needs work between the chambers and the second floor and I’m going to work towards that end,” said Treat.

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