On Friday, Nov. 19, we concluded a special session held to complete our work on legislative and congressional redistricting. Every 10 years, following completion of the U.S. Census, the Legislature has the responsibility of redrawing legislative and congressional district maps to account for population changes. Historically that work is done in the regular session following the year in which the census was conducted, but that process was delayed this year due to the pandemic.

While Oklahoma’s population has increased, that growth tended to be concentrated in metropolitan areas and surrounding suburbs – redistricting involves taking that data and ensuring the number of people in each district is as close to the same as possible. For example, after the 2011 redistricting, each of our 48 Senate districts had just over 78,000 people in them. Taking into account Oklahoma’s population growth as determined by the 2020 Census, those 48 Senate districts will now have a target population of 82,487.

While we approved initial redistricting maps during the regular session utilizing federal estimates, we did have to make some adjustments to legislative districts when the final, official numbers were released to the states in August. Because the population counts could only vary by one person in the five congressional districts, that part of the process could not proceed until we had those final figures.

As I’ve stated before, this was absolutely the most open and transparent redistricting process ever conducted in our state. We conducted about 30 in-person and virtual town hall meetings to give members of the public the opportunity to share concerns, ask questions and even submit their own maps

I think one of the most important accomplishments of the congressional redistricting is that the proposed maps keep major military bases and related military communities in the same congressional districts, protecting the multibillion-dollar investments in those areas. It’s also important to note that 87 percent of Oklahomans will remain in the same congressional district.

With redistricting done, the focus of our work now shifts back to preparing for the 2022 legislative session, which will convene in February. In the coming weeks, we’re going to see an increasing number of bills being filed ahead of the session. The deadline for members to request bills is Dec. 10, and the deadline for actually filing them is Jan. 20.

Another key event that takes place ahead of the regular session is the December meeting of the Board of Equalization. Among its responsibilities, this constitutionally created board is responsible for providing an estimate of all revenue that will be available for appropriation by the Oklahoma Legislature for the coming fiscal year.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for the blessings of family and friends, and for the opportunity to serve all the citizens of Senate District 21.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the State Capitol. If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5572, or email Tom.Dugger@oksenate.gov.

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