March Legislative Update
March marked the midpoint of the legislative session. The Oklahoma House of Representatives sent a number of bills to the state Senate. Many reflected the concerns that I hear about on a daily basis from constituents.
I want to begin by reporting that a government modernization bill I authored is close to becoming law. House Bill 2954 was approved on the House floor in February. In March, Senate committees greenlighted the measure for a consideration on the Senate floor. The legislation provides a funding mechanism to aid counties in the conversion of their vehicles to compressed natural gas, which will reduce their fuel costs considerably. The bill will also provide for an increase in state infrastructure devoted to CNG fuel stations.
We sent the following bills to the Senate:
In late March, we began work on Senate bills in committee. The House Judiciary Committee passed two bills favorable to noncustodial parents. Senate Bill 1784 allowsfamily court judges leeway in suspending or revoking professional licenses of parents who are in arrears on child support payment. Current law gives judges no choice in the matter. Senate Bill 1620 allows noncustodial parents to seek relief from child support payments if a custodial parent refuses to comply with visitation orders. Both bills are nowavailable on the House floor for consideration.
The House Human Services Committee approved a measure to reduce Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to adults who violate state and federal prohibitions against the use of TANF debit cards in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment establishments. On March 31, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to send Senate Bill 1706 to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The House Agriculture and Wildlife Committee approved a measure to protect our children from domestic animal attacks. Senate Bill 1591 restricts commercial pet breeders from setting up shop within 2,500 feet of a school or day care facility in a municipality with a population of more than 300,000.
The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure to make buying guns more difficult for mentally ill people. Senate Bill 1845 requires state courts to notify the FBI of adjudications involving serious mental illness. Those records would be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database, which is used to verify retail gun sales in the United States. State and federal law bans mentally ill people from gun ownership, but the FBI database often lacks information on such judgments. The legislation provides an appeals process for modifying or expunging mental illness findings from the FBI records. The National Rifle Association supports the bill.
The House General Government Committee approved a bill to preempt cities or counties from establishing their own minimum wage requirements.
I look forward to telling you about more progress in a future update.