We are off to a fast start this year. House lawmakers have already approved one of Governor Mary Fallin’s agenda items. House Bill 1948 requires physicians and other medical providers to check a prescription drug database before writing new prescriptions or renewing old ones. I voted against the measure, because I believe it will overly burden medical providers. Oklahomans have made it clear that they don’t want government to be in charge of their healthcare. However, I do support the intent, which is to reduce prescription drug abuse. We will see and vote on the measure again after changes are made in the Senate. I hope to see an increase in the flexibility between healthcare providers and their patients before I am able to support the measure.
I have also been following the votes of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, which heard one of my bills this week. House Bill 1275 will pair up election dates for school boards and municipalities. My intent is to save local tax dollars and encourage greater voter participation. The committee advanced the measure by a vote of 5-2. I noted a second election reform bill’s passage. House Bill 1559 allows voters to become permanent absentee voters. It was approved by a vote of 7-0.
I also had a public safety bill approved in committee. House Bill 1276 updates Oklahoma’s bomb squad statutes and strengthens the state’s terrorism laws. I think it was a testament to how aware our legislators are of the dangers of the current international climate that they unanimously advanced my proposal, 11-0.
Natural gas is abundant in Oklahoma. It is a cheaper source of fuel for vehicles. Where we have used compressed natural gas at the state level, we have saved tax dollars. I want to encourage counties to make the same leap. House Bill 1277 will create a state fund that uses existing oil and gas taxes to create compressed natural gas infrastructure within county vehicle fleets. The legislation was approved in committee by a 7-4 vote and now will go to the appropriations and budget committee before a vote on the House floor.
Finally, I want to mention the committee passage of a school public safety bill. House Bill 1684 will require schools to create a sexual abuse prevention program. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is a common problem in Oklahoma and even extends to our public schools.
I may not agree with every bill we pass this year, but I am pleased with the speed in which we are getting through the legislative work we face this year. I will continue to fight to represent your voice at the Capitol.
It is an honor to serve you. It matter 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.