Executive News: Inhofe’s retirement opens up intrigue

On Friday, Feb. 25, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe submitted the proper paperwork to the Oklahoma Secretary of State to show he will be retiring from the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3, 2023.

Adrian Beverage, OBA President and CEO

Sen. Inhofe started his political career in 1978 when he was elected the mayor of Tulsa. Inhofe spent 6 years as mayor, he was then elected in 1987 as the representative for Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district. Inhofe made the jump to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and held that seat until his retirement in 2023.

The senator’s retirement sent shockwaves through the political world in Oklahoma – we all thought that Inhofe would finish out the remaining years of his term. The rumors are already flying as to who will run for this seat and those that won’t run. I won’t use up my entire column speculating on rumors as we’ll know for sure who is running soon – the filing date to run for office in Oklahoma is April 13-15.

There will be individuals who already hold elected positions who will run and there are those who are well known in the state that aren’t currently elected officials who will run for this seat.

Just remember if an elected official decides to leave their current position to run for U.S. Senate, it will leave another opening that has to be filed. The domino effect will be pretty exciting to watch.

One situation you won’t hear about is who will Gov. Stitt appoint to fill the remainder of Sen. Inhofe’s term? The timing of the senator’s retirement was very interesting. Last year, the Oklahoma legislature passed SB 959, which changed the way Oklahoma handles vacancies in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Below is the specific language in SB 959 that addresses a vacancy in an even numbered year.

“Provided, if a vacancy occurs in an even-numbered year on or before March 1, then the special election, if necessary, shall be held the same year in the manner provided in paragraph 1 of this subsection. However, if the vacancy occurs after March 1 in an even-numbered year, the special election shall be held at the next subsequent regularly scheduled statewide regular primary, runoff primary and general elections.”

What this means is, by Sen. Inhofe submitting the necessary paperwork prior to March 1, the governor doesn’t have the legal authority to appoint a successor to fill the remainder of the senator’s term. The election to determine the next U.S. Senator will fall in line with our regularly scheduled elections in 2022.

• • •

March 3 was our first deadline at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Our original tracking list had 287 bills at the start of session and now we are down to 187 bills.

The next deadline we are looking at is March 24 – on this date, all bills and resolutions must be passed out of their house of origin.

The bill introduced by the OBA regarding garnishments passed out of committee with unanimous support and will now go to the House floor for a vote. We are still closely following several pieces of legislation and are very involved in some of them. It’s too early to know what the fate of these bills will be, but we do know our thoughts and opinions are playing a role in these bills.

This next couple of weeks we’ll start to see what major issues are taking shape and if they have any chance of making it through the process. There are still a lot of vaccine bills and marijuana bills that survived the first deadline. We’ll add those bills to our tracking list to make sure there isn’t anything happening that will have a negative impact on your banks.

This month, Megan McGuire and I will travel to Washington D.C. for the ABA’s March Fly-In. We will get to hear from several elected official as well as regulators and others who have a direct impact on your bank.

We also are going to have meetings with every member of the Oklahoma delegation – we’ll spend some time on our issues, but I have a feeling that all the meetings will be about the upcoming elections both nationally and, most importantly, the races back in Oklahoma.

We’ll have a full recap for you in next month’s paper.