OK Senate Pro Tem comments on 2017 session

State Capitol Building in Oklahoma City

In a release today Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz commented on the 2017 session, saying great policy bookended a session dominated by a $1 billion budget shortfall.

Nice to get some detail on specific public business we and others have been long curious about late on Friday before a Holiday weekend.

OK Senator Mike Schulz

“The Oklahoma Senate worked this session with the goal of ensuring the policies we enacted had long-term vision and set Oklahoma on the path to success now and years down the line. Despite a session that was dominated by the $1 billion shortfall, the Senate was able to enact important policies that will help grow our economy, create jobs and generate wealth, and yield new revenues for the state budget. The Energy Jobs Act of 2017 will help kick start oil and gas drilling, allowing the industry to help lead Oklahoma’s economic recovery. And getting Oklahoma in compliance with the federal REAL ID law ensures Oklahomans can maintain access to military bases to support our service men and women and board domestic flights with state issued ID,” said Schulz, R-Altus.

“The budget process was difficult this year. The Oklahoma Senate showed its willingness to compromise – passing a revenue bill that would have meant $514 million in new, recurring revenue for the state. But without compromise from others in budget negotiations, we couldn’t reach a deal and moved forward. Initially, 18 – 20 percent cuts were feared at the outset of the year. But the budgets of common education, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the Department of Public Safety were kept whole while other agency cuts average less than five percent. Like most budgets passed by the Legislature, the FY’18 budget is not a perfect bill but it is an incredible accomplishment considering the Legislature had to deal with a budget hole of $1 billion and some refused to compromise.”

Oklahoma Buffalo

“This was a challenging session, but I’m proud of every member of the Oklahoma Senate for their dedication to our state and willingness to put our state above partisan politics. I’m proud to lead this chamber and want to thank each senator for their service to Oklahoma.”

Below is a list of some of the 2017 legislative accomplishments of the Oklahoma Senate:

BUDGET REFORMS:
• HB 2298 (Schulz):  accelerates the sunset date of the zero-emissions tax credit for wind energy to July 1, 2017, saving the state millions of dollars in future budget years.
• HB 2343 (David):  expands parameters for which the Oklahoma Tax Commission can target entities for noncompliance with certain sales tax laws. The measure is expected to generate $17 million in new revenue.
• SB 170 (Thompson):  eliminates the automatic income tax cut trigger, preserving lawmakers’ ability to pursue income tax cuts at a future date.
• HB 2311 (Schulz):  commission to conduct independent performance audits of top 20 appropriated state agencies in order to identify ways in which tax dollars can be used more efficiently and services delivered more effectively.
• HB 2344 (David): reduces the maximum for the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program by $1 million.
• HB 2348 (David): “decouples” the standard deduction on state tax returns from federal deductions. The measure is estimated to raise $4 million currently, and prevent millions in an anticipated shortfall if the federal government changes the federal standard deduction.
• HB 1427 (Leewright):  authorizes the creation of a dedicated division within the Oklahoma Tax Commission to focus solely on out-of-state vendors who may not be in compliance with Oklahoma tax code.

ECONOMY:  A MORE PROSPEROUS OKLAHOMA
SB 867 (Schulz):  Energy Jobs Act of 2017 allows horizontal drilling in all rock formations, while maintaining protections for other producers. The bill is estimated to generate millions for state and local governments, and foster the creation of thousands of oil and gas jobs.
• HB 1845 (Schulz): brings Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID law ensuring Oklahomans can use their state-issued licenses to gain entry to federal buildings and military installations and to board commercial flights.
• SB 147 (Schulz): allows concentrated feeding animal operations (CAFO) to be located within a town if the municipality’s governing body executes a written waiver of the setback for the particular CAFO, ensuring CAFO’s can continue operations while allowing municipalities to hold them accountable.
• SB 120 (David):  extends the successful aerospace engineers tax credit.
• SB 211 (Bice):  allows Sunday alcohol sales if approved by county voters.
• SB 174 (Bice): allows spouses of liquor retail store owners to own separate stores.
• SB 593 (Schulz): Protects property rights, puts Oklahoma in line with the other 49 states in regards to private airstrips, and allows FAA to make the determination of setbacks to keep the area safe for air travel.
• HB 2186 (Holt) (pending): allows movie theatres to serve alcohol provided they receive the appropriate permits.

EDUCATION:  INVESTING IN FUTURE GENERATIONS
SB 514 (Stanislawski):  creates task force to study ways to reduce administrative costs and improve financial stability of school districts. Another effort to ensure more dollars make it into the classroom to support students and teachers.
• SB 15 (Bice):  directs the OSDE and State Regents for Higher Education to implement a targeted teacher recruiting program.
• SB 84 (Bergstrom):  extends the probationary period for a student who cannot pass the third-grade reading test to the 2022-2023 school year.
• SB 244 (Stanislawski):  requires virtual charter schools to track attendance.
• SB 301 (Griffin):  exempts children in out-of-home placements with DHS from the requirement to attend a public school regarding the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program.
• SB 445 (Newhouse):  Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act tax credits.
• SB 529 (Smalley): increases the family income limit for eligibility under the Oklahoma’s Promise program and expands the tuition scholarship to include more CareerTech programs.
• HB 1693 (Stanislawski):  puts into place a new framework and basic components for a new A-F school accountability system, ensuring Oklahoma is compliant with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
• HB 1578 (Stanislawski):  creates the School Finance Review Commission which will study all matters related to school finance in an effort to provide understanding and accountability in school finance.

PUBLIC SAFETY:  A SAFER OKLAHOMA
SB 603 (Treat): requires the Department of Corrections to administer a risk and needs assessment for each prisoner. The agency must develop a plan of action based on said assessment. (pending approval by governor)
• SB 604 (Treat) requires the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to include personal safety planning necessary at the pretrial stages of a potential criminal case.
• SB 52 (Fry): requires drivers to physically turn over their driver’s license on demand from a peace officer.
• SB 90 (McCortney):   requires the sheriff or a CLEET-certified deputy sheriff to accompany a reserve force deputy sheriff unless said deputy sheriff received 240 hours of training. Requires them to complete said training in 6 months.
• SB 252 (Griffin): allows victims impact panel programs to have multiple presenters.
• SB 273 (Smalley): extends forcible sodomy laws dealing with public employees to include subcontractors and their employees.
• SB 342 (Holt): creates a task force to examine costs and fees assessed on persons interacting with the criminal justice process.
• SB 786 (Shaw) reduces charges associated with burglary if no person is present in the home.
• SB 38 (Thompson):  increases the Forensic Science Improvement Assessment fee from $5 to $10 to support the upkeep of state forensic lab equipment.
• SB 303 (Smalley) authorizes the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to submit fingerprints to the FBI Rap Back System.

A HEALTHIER OKLAHOMA
SB 741 (Standridge): subject to the availability of funds, directs Oklahoma Health Care Authority to develop and administer a program to encourage participants in the Medicaid program to use primary care services in lieu of emergency room visits in order to drive down health care costs.
• SB 765 (Yen): prohibits minors from utilizing tanning beds.
• SB 773 (David):  directs the OHCA to initiate a request for proposal for care coordination models for children 0-18 years of age.
• SB 828 (Griffin): creates the Nursing Facility Supplemental Payment Program Revolving Fund under the OHCA which will be used to make supplemental payments of Medicaid and administrative expenses.

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND SUPPORTING FAMILIES
HB 1703 (Treat):  “Choosing Childbirth Act,” which establishes a program to promote, incentivize, and provide support for crisis pregnancy centers.
• SB 34 (David): strengthens anti-trafficking laws by stating “lack of knowledge of the age of the (trafficking) victim” shall not constitute a defense to human trafficking of a minor.
• SB 217 (Griffin):  requires a sex offender who is given a suspended sentence to report to local law enforcement and the DOC parole office in their district.
• SB 717 (Griffin): broadens scope of the Child Care Restricted Registry to include people with a substantiated finding of child abuse.
• SB 723 (Griffin): broadens the scope of background checks for those applying to be child care providers.
• SB 726 (Griffin): subjects physicians engaging in telemedicine to the same standards in person healthcare experts are expected to adhere to.
• SB 748 (Griffin): allows DHS to create a pilot program that focuses on improving socioeconomic outcomes for children in state custody.
• SB 30 (Griffin):  requires DHS to publicly post information regarding pregnancy help centers contingent on funding being appropriated specifically for this program.
• HB 1894 (Sykes): helps protect vulnerable patients from being denied life-preserving care by creating a hierarchy of individuals who can make health decisions for someone that is consistently unconscious, incompetent or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communicating.
• HB 1468 (Holt): modified the statute of limitations on criminal charges so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday.
• HB 1470 (Holt): modifies the statute of limitation on civil suits regarding sexual assault so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday.

SUPPORTING VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES
• SB 35 (David): allows active military members and those who are in the Reserves or National Guard who are 21 years of age or older to carry a handgun without a handgun license.  Military members’ extensive training with weapons makes the requirement of having a gun license unnecessary.
• SB 227 (Simpson): increases service members’ financial and contractual rights by allowing members in the Armed Services or National Guard to cancel services like cell phone contracts, utilities, and health club memberships without penalty when mobilized or deployed.
• SB 233 (Simpson): adds provision stating that hourly employees shall not miss out on the first 240 hours of their pay when called to active service.
• SB 543 (Simpson): directs ODVA to establish a state cemetery for veterans addressing a national shortage of space for veterans’ cemeteries and providing a way to honor veterans with a dignified final resting place.
• SB 730 (Simpson): strikes the requirement for veterans’ centers to implement non-smoking measures by January, 2018.

GENERAL POLICY AND REFORMS
SB 145 (Fields): allows presidential electors to be chosen at a party convention, but not necessarily a statewide convention. Changes the petition requirements to file for an independent bid of the Presidency to include the number of signatures required to form a party.
• SB 148 (Fields): states that Oklahomans who renew their license must be provided with voter registration services as required by the National Voter Registration Act. Changes of address on the license shall change the address on the registration.
• SB 153 (Fields):  allows state parks to spend monies collected from entrance or day-use charges at state parks for general improvement of the park.
• SB 287 (Griffin): directs the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Department of Environmental Quality to obtain authorization from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to administer all programs regulating oil and gas discharges into the waters of this state.
• SB 360 (Holt): directs state Election Board to develop a system to allow voters to electronically change information on voter registration.