By Rep. Mike Sanders
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is busy reviewing Senate legislation in committee while trying to keep an eye on House measures in the Senate. We have also been busy voting on academic standards and a supplemental funding bill for education and corrections.
New academic standards were required by a 2014 law that overturned Common Core Standards. The Oklahoma Legislature had until this month to approve the new English and mathematics standards. The House approved the standards with recommendations for improvement as they are implemented. If the House and Senate do not agree, the standards will go into effect automatically. These standards do not mandate what materials a teacher uses, but simply set guidelines for what the student should know at the end of each grade level.
I will mention the supplemental funding measure again, because of how important it is to local schools. The supplemental funding will provide $51 million to schools to help them get through the end of this year after the midyear cuts that resulted from the drop in oil prices. Our prison system was already running on a skeleton crew and could not absorb automatic cuts so we also provided $25.6 million to get the Department of Corrections through the end of the year.
Domestic violence continues to be a problem in Oklahoma and nationally. Two bills of interest are Senate Bill 1249 and Senate Bill 1491. The first requires final protective orders to be resolvedwithin six months of service on the defendant. The second broadens the definition of domestic violence. Current statute defines it as a pattern involving three or more incidents of abuse. This measure would make it two or more and remove a stipulation that it occur within a 12-month period.
The Real ID Act was a federal law put in place in response to the increased incidents of terror in the United States. Oklahoma has been non-compliant with the law, though we have asked for extensions. Senate Bill 1362 would make us compliant with the federal law.
The final piece of legislation from the Senate I want to tell you about is Senate Joint Resolution 65. It would make the Oklahoma Labor Commissioner an appointed position. Currently, the labor commissioner is among the list of statewide elected officials. If we approve this constitutional amendment it would go to a vote of the people.
Lastly, I want to wish everyone a safe and wonderful Easter. This is a time of renewal, family and the celebration of the gift of life and our Christian faith.
Reviewing Senate Legislation
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