2018 Session: Week 4 Recap

Hey everyone! It was a busy week at the Capitol with a packed schedule of committee meetings, floor votes and wrapping up business from the Second Extraordinary Session. Thursday was the deadline for bills to get out of committee in the chamber of origin. So, for the most part, any bill that failed to get of committee this week is dead and will not be heard again this session. The next step for bills that did make it out of committee is to be passed off the floor. So, look for more floor activity in the weeks ahead. The biggest news of the week was Governor Fallin signing HB1020XX; this is the final budget bill of FY17-18 and enacts 0.667% cuts across all state agencies. Combined with the Senate’s passage of the emergency appropriations bill for medical education (HB1022XX), and caps on coal tax credits and railroad rehab credits (HB 1034XX and HB1036XX), the signage of HB1020XX should signal the end of the second special session.

Don’t Miss This

Here is a list of the the articles, podcasts, blog posts and more from this week that you don’t want to miss:

  1. First up this week is great piece from The Journal Record that summarizes a number of Senate Joint Resolutions introduced this week. If passed, these would create ballot initiatives amending the Oklahoma Constitution in a number of ways. This is definitely worth your time. Full disclosure, The Journal Record does have a paywall, so the article cannot be accessed without a subscription. The Journal Record really does a fantastic job covering local business and politics; in our opinion, a subscription is worth the money.
  2. Our friends at NonDoc have this editorial discussing the possibility of a teacher’s strike.  The article really does a great job of explaining why teachers in our state feel that a work stoppage is their only recourse, as well as exploring the potential effects and ramifications.
  3. Gun laws are a hot topic at both the local and federal level right now, and Oklahoma Watch has put together a Q&A that summarizes all of our local laws that regulate who can carry what kind of gun and where. No matter where you fall on the gun debate, this is good information.
  4. Oklahoma is making news nationally this week and for a couple of different issues. The Seattle Times has an update on the tracking device scandal in which Rep. Mark McBride has been a victim.  The trail of who is responsible now leads to Texas and a political operative known as Dr. Dirt.  This is a Scandal episode in the making.
  5. Lastly, The Kansas City Star discusses laws making their way through both the Oklahoma and Florida legislatures that would require the display of the national motto, “In God We Trust” in all public school classrooms. The bill does require that the display either be donated or paid for with private funds rather than using taxpayer dollars.

Legislative Recap

As we noted above, this was a busy week at the Capitol. We expect that this week the Legislature will declare Sine Die on the second special session and turn their attention towards the remainder of the regular session.  Given the recent budget woes faced by our state, it seems like the folks at 23rd and Lincoln might want to focus on the the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, as the recent revenue certification by the Board of Equalization anticipates a budget hole of $167.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year.  So far though, it looks like budget concerns may again be pushed to the last few days and weeks of session.  

Several health care related bills were heard in committee this week. Most notable to us were SB1120 and SB1123, both authored by Sen. Yen. SB1120 anticipates the passage of State Question 788 in June and significantly pares down resultant medical marijuana laws, placing limits on the medical conditions for which it can be prescribed. The bill passed committee on a vote of 6-5.  SB1123 alters the circumstances under which parents can claim and exemption to mandatory vaccinations and limits it to medical exemptions only. The bill failed in committee on a vote of 3-8. Two bills that would significantly alter Oklahoma’s Medicaid program passed out of committee this week as well.  HB3556 would institute a work requirement for the Medicaid program while SB1030 significantly lowers the income threshold at which individuals and families qualify for Medicaid coverage. The folks at Oklahoma Policy Institute contend that both bills would result in a loss of coverage for a significant portion of Oklahoma’s Medicaid recipients. Despite the fact that both bills passed out of the committee, we’re hearing that neither of them are likely to run the gauntlet of the Legislature and ultimately be passed into law.

A number of bills concerning firearms were heard by the House Public Safety committee this week.  All sponsored by Rep. Coody, HB 2918, HB 2951, and HB 3192 all passed out of committee.  HB 2918 allows for the carrying of concealed or unconcealed weapons on personal property as long as permission has been obtained. HB2951, so-called “Constitutional Carry”, allows the carrying of handguns without licensure or training. Finally, HB 3192 allows school boards to designate personnel who can carry weapons on campus.  Similar to the bills changing Medicaid eligibility, we’re hearing at these measures likely don’t have a future.

One other development this week was the passage of SB1086 from the full Senate Committee on Appropriations and Budget. SB1086 repeals the capital gains deduction, a tax break that is estimated to cost the state around $100 million annually.  

Next Week…

Well, that wraps up our recap of a whirlwind week.  Be sure to tune in to #LetsPodThis next week and check the blog for our recap and analysis, and remember:

Decisions are made by those who show up.