Monday, February 11, 2013

"A busy week" - Cockroft Column, February 12, 2013

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to adopt House rules, which will govern the legislative process on the House side. The most striking new rule was one that will allow a committee rather than the majority floor leader to decide what will be heard on the House floor. The floor leader will still schedule when measures will be heard, though the committee can also vote to determine that a measure will be heard at a particular time.

We have also learned the details of Governor Mary Fallin’s “Open Range” plan. The proposal seeks to place more money in K-12 classrooms by allowing school districts to take advantage of the savings from the state’s recent consolidation of information technology resources. The consolidation is already set to save Oklahoma state agencies approximately $40 million each year.

Lawmakers are also targeting antiquated laws still in Oklahoma statute. For example, a committee has approved two bills that would remove a misdemeanor for blasphemy and a prohibition against county commissioners who own railroad stock. The committee also voted to remove language regarding a fire an research and management committee, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Act, the Oklahoma Military Base Closure Prevention Task Force and an Oklahoma Office of Volunteerism, all of which are mentioned in law but for all intensive purposes no longer exist.

Conservative lawmaker Rep. Paul Wesselhoft has teemed up with the ACLU of Oklahoma to advance three bills aimed at protect the privacy rights of Oklahomans in the face of rapidly advancing technology. House Bill 1559 would prohibit the installation of Radio Frequency Identification tracking technology in a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. House Bill 1557 would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they access the geolocation data stored by a cell phone user’s cellular provider. House Bill 1556 would requre law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using drones for surveillance purposes. The legislation also prohibits the use of drones carrying weapons.

Please provide any feedback and thoughts that you may have on policy. I hope to count on your support as we make our state government leaner and more efficient. Please never hesitate to contact me at (405) 788-9160 or Follow me on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27 and on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft.

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