State Senate Update – Week of April 14

This week marked the 2nd week of hearing House bills on the Senate Floor.  It was a busy one for me.  I presented several bills on the floor – all of which passed.  The three most notable bills dealt with:

  1. HB 2353  (House Author is Rep. Kern): This bill increases the penalties for Human Trafficking and makes the crime an “85% crime” (those convicted must serve at least 85% of the sentence that is handed down by the jury). The vote was 37-0.
  2. HB 2684 (House Author is Rep. Grau): This bill restricts usage of the chemical Abortion Drug (RU-486) to the methodology approved by the FDA.  Off-label use has proven to be lethal to the mother at times.  Representative Grau and I passed a similar bill in 2011 but the Supreme Court ruled against the measure because we did not specifically allow for an exception for the drug to be used for ectopic pregnancies.  This legislation takes the Court’s direction and is intended to protect women’s health.  Abortion advocates ignore that there are serious risks involved even with non-surgical abortions. The vote was 37-5.
  3. HB 2414 (House Author is Rep. Nelson): This bill amends the Lindsay Nicole Henry Scholarship which is the brainchild of Rep. Nelson.  This bill allows children with special needs to not have to enroll in kindergarten prior to qualifying for the scholarship designed for those with special needs if the child is qualified for services in public school and was receiving services in Sooner Start. I am honored that Rep. Nelson let me be a part of improving on this excellent idea.  The vote was 31-16.

This week Governor Fallin signed 12 bills that I authored with Rep. Blackwell to extend the sunsets on several boards and commissions.  I run these bills because of my chairmanship of General Government.  We take a close look at these boards and commissions to see if there is any reason for the entity to continue to exist.

Next week  I will be presenting 4 more bills.  The most notable bills deal with:

  1. Private Property Rights and Abandoned Buildings (HB 2620 and HB 3363) – we are trying to strike a balance between individuals’ private property rights (which are of paramount importance in my mind) with municipalities’ ability to take care of abandoned and dilapidated properties.
  2. Safe Families HB 2536 - I am running legislation with Rep. Jason Nelson to create an ability for at risk families to temporarily give parental rights to other families so they can get help and avoid getting involved in the DHS system.  This is not for families that abuse or neglect their kids.  However, there are families that are on the brink of disaster without some help (drug counseling, medical procedures, etc.).  We have an alarming rate of kids going into foster care and this is an attempt to follow a model that has proven effective to get churches and non-profits involved before state intervention.
  3. Strengthening Gun Rights – HJR 1026 - The House author on this resolution is Rep. Dan Fisher.  This measure would put a state question on the ballot that would strengthen Oklahoma’s Constitutional protection for firearms.

Other measures of note that passed this week that I did not author include:  

  1. HB2625 by Stanislawski – Students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to demonstrate reading sufficiency in the 3rd grade.  Once sufficiency is achieved, parents are notified and child is eligible for promotion.  Students scoring limited knowledge on 3rd grade criterion-referenced test are eligible to be promoted with an intensive remediation program.  Students who are deficient may still be granted probationary promotion to the 4th grade per the decision of a Student Reading Proficiency Team consisting of parents, educators, and school administration.  Students granted probationary promotion will be subject to continuous review by the Team until the student reaches grade-level proficiency.
  2. SB1602 by R. Johnson – Prohibits minors 18 and under from purchasing e-cigarettes.  Provides for penalties.
  3. HB1384 by Griffin – Creates the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”  and
    reaffirms that the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, care and education of their children is a fundamental right.