By Rep. Mike Sanders
More than 300 laws took effect Nov. 1. Let me give you a snapshot of a few of them. The first two are laws I authored.
House Bill 2051 allows retired firefighters who are already part of the state’s pension program to return to service in volunteer fire departments without it affecting their current retirement benefit and without it counting as an accrued retirement benefit against the state’s pension plan. This bill is a companion to one I authored several years ago that eliminated the 45-year-old age limit for new firefighters by giving them the ability to join a department without the requirement that they be added to the pension plan. These bills help build the ranks of our rural fire departments, which are largely staffed by volunteers, and they help protect lives and property.
House Bill 1228 will provide professional development for teachers beginning in the 2020-21 school year to help them recognize students with dyslexia and determine how best to help these students to put them on a better pathway toward learning on pace with their peers. This will help these students be able to perform well in school, join the workforce and avoid many of the challenges currently experienced by students with dyslexia.
House Bill 2640, Francine’s Law, requires law enforcement to put into the NamUs national database information of unidentified bodies so that families of missing persons can search for their loved ones. The bill was named after Francine Frost, a mother of two who was abducted in Tulsa in 1981. Her case was cold for more than three decades until a grandson found information in the NamUs system that later turned out to be that of his grandmother. This law will lead to quicker identification.
House Bill 2597, otherwise known as constitutional carry, allows citizens 21 years old and above who are lawfully allowed to carry a firearm and active duty military below 21 to carry firearms in public without having to first secure a permit or license. The law still requires background checks and does not allow convicted felons, those with adjudicated mental illnesses or illegal aliens to carry. Private property owners can still prohibit people from carrying firearms openly on their property, and guns are still prohibited at airports, colleges and government buildings. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms without the requirement of paying for a permit or license. Oklahoma is one of 14 states to restore this right.
Senate Bill 142 requires a nursing home resident or their legal representative to provide informed consent prior to being prescribed anti-psychotic medication unless a physician deems it necessary. Oklahoma has been No. 1 in the nation for nursing home residents taking anti-psychotic drugs without a psychiatric diagnosis. This will improve the lives of those who are too often prescribed medications to modify their sleep or behavior without proof they need these powerful medications.
House Bill 1071 permits, but does not mandate, speed limit increases on rural segments of the interstate highway system and on state turnpikes if the changes are supported by engineering studies. Such safety studies are expected to be completed early next year, and then reviewed and potentially approved by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Commission or the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Board.
Senate Bill 89 expands Oklahoma’s current “Move Over” law to require all drivers on multilane highways to change lanes when approaching a vehicle stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights on, when it safe to do so.
House Bill 1926 allows law enforcement to use cameras on school buses to track down drivers who illegally pass buses that have stop arms extended. The law requires a minimum ticket of $100 for violators; 75% of the money collected will be deposited into the newly created Cameras for School Bus Stops Revolving Fund, a grant that schools without video surveillance on buses can apply for in order to purchase the equipment. Drivers that pass stopped school buses endanger our children and should face stiff penalties.
Senate Bill 1019 allows pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills to patients who need life-saving medications but who don’t have a current prescription on file if the patient can’t get in touch with their doctor for a refill. Pharmacists will be able to dispense a “reasonable” amount of medication if the patient has a record of the prescription on file and the pharmacist determines the medication is essential to treating a person’s chronic condition. Examples of such medications include insulin and rescue inhalers.
House Bill 2380 creates a criminal penalty for possessing or using a scanning or skimming device to access, read, obtain, memorize or store – temporarily or permanently – information encoded on the a credit or debit card without the permission of the authorized user of the card and with the intent to defraud.
This is just a snapshot of all of the bills passed and signed into law this year. You can see a full list here: https://www.sos.ok.gov/gov/legislation.aspx.
Remember, I am always available. If I can help you in any way, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.