House Lawmakers Reach Second Deadline

By Rep. Mike Sanders

House lawmakers have reached their self-imposed deadline to get legislation to the Oklahoma Senate. I thought it would be a good time to go over the following bills that survived both the committee and House floor deadlines and that may be signed into law by the end of session.

House Bill 2508 would reduce the state income tax by a quarter of a percent in fiscal year 2016 if revenue is high enough to keep the cut from negatively impacting the budget. Although House lawmakers favor this bill over the Senate version, we know that neither bill will pass without input and revisions from the opposite chamber and the governor.

House Bill 2377 would raise the monthly expense allowance for all commissioned law enforcement offices of the Department of Public Safety including state highway troopers from $150 a month to $300 a month. The bill would raise the monthly expense allowance for cadets, law enforcement personnel on provisional or probationary status and other uniformed department members from $100 a month to $200 a month.

House Bill 3085, which I authored, would exempt sales of tangible personal property or services to the American Legion, whether the purchase is made by the entity chartered by the United States Congress or is an entity organized under the laws of this or another state pursuant to the authority of the national American Legion organization. I have been fighting for this sales tax exemption for several years. I am pleased to be able to honor our veterans with this support for the largest auxiliary organization in Oklahoma. The legislation was approved by a vote of 94-0.

House Bill 3090 would give county treasurers more flexibility in holding county resales. I sponsored this bill to help county government further serve Oklahomans and was pleased to see it pass by a unanimous, 88-0 vote.

House Bill 2372 would protect the right of Oklahomans to basic privacy by prohibiting employers from requiring access to potential hires and their employees’ social media accounts. The bill would allow employees and prospective employees to bring civil action against an employee who violates the law within two years of the violation. If successful, the court could award a minimum of $500 per violation or actual damages in addition to court costs and “reasonable attorney fees.”

House Bill 2588 would create a process for mediating and addressing grievances by foster care parents overseen by the Oklahoma Commission of Children and Youth Office of Juvenile System Oversight.

House Bill 2625 would amend the current law that would force schools to automatically retain third-grade students who fail a state reading test or alternative assessment. The legislation replaces automatic retention with a process in which the child’s parent and local educators determine whether or not to retain the child. The bill would retain current language that requires remedial intervention.

House Bill 2642 would create a special education fund that would be used to increase the per-pupil expenditure through the state aid formula. Contingent upon an Oklahoma Board of Equalization estimate of an increase of 1 percent in revenue to the General Revenue Fund, the Securing Educational Excellence Fund would receive $57.5 million in fiscal year 2015. The amount would increase by another $57.5 million in each subsequent fiscal year, dependent upon a 1 percent estimate increase in revenue, up to $575 million.

House Bill 2070 would make it a felony to knowingly destroy a human embryo to create a stem cell. The bill would allow couples with frozen embryos to store them or provide them to others who want to adopt the embryos and grow them into babies.

House Bill 2851 would make property used in or derived from violations of the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act subject to forfeiture. The bill allows a person injured as a result of a criminal offense under the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act or law enforcement agency or other governmental agency that participated in an investigation under the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act to file a claim for costs or damages against any seized property.

In the coming weeks, House lawmakers will review Senate bills and continue their work on crafting a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407.

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