On Friday, April 10, the Oklahoma House of Representatives finished committee work on Senate legislation. The following legislative actions took place from April 1-10:
House Committee OKs Bill Allowing County Jail Mental Health Services
On Wednesday, April 8, the Oklahoma House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee advanced legislation to expedite mental competency evaluations and treatment.
Senate Bill 715 would allow evaluation and treatment in county jails by state mental health professionals or third parties approved by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Currently, some county inmates must be taken great distances for evaluations and treatment.
The legislation now proceeds to the full House for consideration.
House Budget Committee Advances Government Reform Measure
On Wednesday, April 8, the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee advanced legislation decoupling appellate judges’ salaries from those of the governor and other elected executive officers.
Senate Bill 549 would allow judges to receive raises without triggering increases for the governor and other officials.
The committee also approved a second bill that would raise appellate judge salaries.
Senate Bill 548 would provide appellate judges with a 6 percent raise.
House Approves Student Athlete Heart Risk Notification Bill
On Tuesday, April 7, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure that would increase awareness about the risks of sudden cardiac arrest.
Senate Bill 239 requires parents to sign a document before their child participates in school athletic programs. The document notes the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes and provides information on medical screening tests. The legislation also requires coaches to receive yearly instruction on sudden cardiac arrest risks and physician approval for a player to return who collapses without explanation.
The legislation will now return to the Senate for a final vote to approve changes.
House Committee Approves Powdered Alcohol Ban
On Tuesday, April 7, the Oklahoma House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee advanced legislation that would ban powdered alcohol in Oklahoma.
Palcohol is a new product that received federal approval March 10. It has not yet appeared in Oklahoma liquor stores. Several states have already banned it and others are working to ban it or at least regulate it strictly.
Senate Bill 720 was approved in committee by a vote of 8-0 and will now proceed to the full House for consideration.
Governor Signs Palliative Care Bill
On Tuesday, April 7, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation into law that would add two palliative care experts to a state health advisory panel.
House Bill 1085, by state Rep. Pat Ownbey, renames the Home Care and Hospice Advisory Council to the Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care Advisory Council and adds two members who specialize in palliative care. The measure directs the council to identify ways to improve the quality and delivery of palliative care.
The new law will take effect Nov. 1
Senate Sends Human Trafficking Wiretap Bill to Governor
On Monday, April 6, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously approved legislation that would expand wiretapping statutes to cover crimes of human trafficking for labor, commercial sex and the prostitution of children.
House Bill 1006 was approved by a vote of 43-0 and will now proceed to the governor’s desk.
Wiretap approval involves the attorney general’s office and the approval of an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice. It is currently used in drug investigations.
House lawmakers previously approved the legislation 91-0.
Senate Committee Approves Measure to Help Children with Epilepsy
On Monday, April 6, the Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services Committee advanced legislation that would legalize clinic trials using cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative that is non-intoxicating.
House Bill 2145 creates Katie and Cayman’s Law, which authorizes a pilot program with the option for the Legislature to extend the initiative after the two-year trial period expires in December 2017. Previous medical studies indicate this product can be used to treat children and adults who suffer from epileptic seizures and help reduce the number and intensity of their seizures.
The bill was approved in committee by a vote of 9-0 and now proceeds to the full Senate for consideration. It previously passed in the House by a vote of 99-2.
Governor Signs Teacher Union Payroll Deduction Ban
On Thursday, April 2, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a measure that would end the practice of state payroll deductions for union dues.
House Bill 1749 would apply to groups that participate with the state in collective bargaining, or negotiations over conditions of employment. It would affect the American Federation of Teachers and the Oklahoma Education Association.
The legislation will take effect Nov. 1.