Monday, February 23, 2015

Cockroft Column: House Session Update - Week 3


As the first session of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature continues, I was proud to see my colleagues support a number of important measures that will improve Oklahoma education, public safety and economic growth. Here are a few of the bills heard on the House floor.

House Bill 1275, which I authored, pairs up election dates for school boards and municipalities with the intent of reducing election costs and encouraging greater voter participation. The legislation was approved by a vote of 63-30 and now heads to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted unanimously in support of legislation that would help law enforcement catch human traffickers. House Bill 1006 authorizes the use of wiretaps to investigate human trafficking for labor or commercial sex, the pandering of humans for sex and for the investigation of the prostitution of a child.

We also approved a bill to improve Oklahoma’s business climate. House Bill 1001 allows employers to file documentation for misconduct immediately upon the termination of the employee. In doing this, the employer will be considered to have automatically protested the claim if and when the former employee files for unemployment insurance benefits. The legislation would also provide a reliable unemployment insurance tax rate for new businesses in their first two years in operation. The legislation was approved by a 93-4 vote and now heads to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.

Finally, legislation approved unanimously by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would improve information sharing between state criminal justice agencies. House Bill 1083 would create a shared information technology infrastructure that would be used by 14 agencies. The legislation would make it possible for a higher level of technology for many of these agencies and is much cheaper than providing additional technologies to each agency.

I also want to mention a tax credit reform bill that was approved in our budget committee. Currently, the Oklahoma pays out roughly $1.7 billion in tax credits. While some of these tax credits are an essential part of creating a pro-business environment, there are no methods in place at this time to determine if a credit is spurring economic growth or simply keeping industries alive that would otherwise fail on their own. House Bill 2182 creates the Incentive Evaluation Commission that will review current and future tax credits, report on their level of success and make recommendations on future policy. The Incentive Evaluation Commission will ensure each tax credit is evaluated every four years by an independent auditor and scored on criteria specific to its purpose.   

It is an honor to serve you. It matters not if you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent; I am here to serve you. Please visit my policy blog at www.RepJoshCockroft.blogspot.com. Communication is important to me. I want to know how to I can better serve and lead for our district and our state. I am always a phone call away at: (405) 557-7349. You can also email me at: Josh.Cockroft@okhouse.gov.

 

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