Oklahoma senate review by Senator Al McAffrey

Oklahoma State Senator Al McAffrey. Photo by Robin Dorner.

I hope everyone had a safe, happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Work at the Capitol is picking up as we approach our first deadline of the 2013 legislative session.  Friday, December 14th is the deadline to request bills.  Staff will research these requests to ensure constitutionality as well as that they’re not already law.  They will then have until Thursday, January 17 to have the bills drafted and approved by their authors. 

Following the election, we have eight new faces in the Senate.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming session and getting to work with them. 

Accessing information is going to be much easier this session.  As I mentioned in a previous column, the Senate has made several technological upgrades and more are in the works.    

New high resolution cameras have been installed in the front and back of the Senate chamber for those who follow online.  Bill information and links to the measures being discussed will now also be displayed next to the video.  Previously, the camera angle was set to simply switch back and forth between the front and back camera every so many seconds.  The camera angle will now change depending on which microphone on the floor is being used so viewers can always see the senator debating. 

A new voting board will also be installed in the Senate chamber that will provide more information about the bills being debated including full short titles. The board will also list all the other bills to be considered that day. 

Our sound board is also getting upgraded.  Currently, if someone wants session audio they can get a cd from staff but it’s of the entire day’s proceedings so they have to sort through hours of debate to find the particular bill debate they’re needing.  The new sound board will be tied to the new voting board, along with the website and new cameras making it possible to archive audio in a more user-friendly format.  Starting this session, people will be able to search archived session audio by bill number, so no more sifting through hours of debate.   

All of these new technological services will help make the legislative process more transparent and easier for the media and public to follow.  All of these services can be found on our website at www.oksenate.gov.  Our site is a tremendous educational tool, and I hope citizens take advantage of it.  There are so many services available, besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, including press releases, photos, audio, committee schedules, text of bills, votes and so much more. 

If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached by email at mcaffrey@oksenate.gov or by phone at (405) 521-5610.  You can also write me:  Senator Al McAffrey, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 533, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105.