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THE OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE


Oklahoma's bicameral Legislature is composed of 48 members of the State Senate and 101 members of the House of Representatives. Regular sessions of the Legislature convene annually at noon on the first Monday in February. Regular sessions must be adjourned by 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May every year. In odd-numbered years, the regular session will also include one day in January. The Legislature will meet at noon on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January and will recess no later than five p.m. on the same day to declare elections. Normally, the Legislature is in session Monday through Thursday. Extraordinary sessions may be called by the Governor or by the Legislature itself.

Legislatures are identified by consecutive numbers. For example, the 1996 session was designated as the Second Session, 45th Legislature; the 1997 session as the First Session, 46th Legislature; and the 1998 session as the Second Session, 46th Legislature.

Each house of the Legislature organizes independently to function during the legislative session. By law, the Lieutenant Governor is president of the Senate, but the role is limited to presiding over special sessions and casting the deciding vote in case of a tie. The law also provides the Senate will elect a President Pro Tempore and the House of Representatives will elect a Speaker of the House. State Senators serve staggered four-year terms. Senators in odd-numbered districts were elected in 1996. Those in even-numbered districts were elected in 1994. Members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms and are up every even-numbered year. State Question 632, passed in 1990, limits legislators to 12 years total service. However, it applies to legislators elected after January 1, 1991.

Legislators are paid $38,400 annually and certain necessary expenses. The President Pro Tempore of the State Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative are paid an additional $17,932 annually and the majority floor leaders and the minority floor leaders of each house are paid an additional $12,369 per year.

Each house considers four types of legislation: bills, which can become law if passed by both houses and signed by the Governor; joint resolutions, which have the force and effect of law when passed by both houses, but which may not become part of the statutes; concurrent resolutions, which express the will of both houses; and simple resolutions, which express the will of the house of origin. Legislation which originates in the Senate is numbered consecutively beginning with "1" and legislation which originates in the House is numbered consecutively beginning with "1001".

The Legislature occupies the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the State Capitol. The Senate is on the east side of the rotunda and the House of Representatives is on the west side. Joint sessions are held in the House Chambers. Chambers for both houses are on the fourth floor, with visitors' galleries on the fifth floor. The telephone number for the Senate is: (405) 524-0126; for the House of Representatives: (405) 521-2711.

The information on this page was taken, with permission, from the "Oklahoma Almanac" published by The Oklahoma Department of Libraries.