New academic standards go into effect
On Monday, March 28, Senate leaders decided not to hear a House resolution to approve new academic standards with instructions for state education officials to make minor corrections before implementation. This means that they will go into automatic effect without those instructions. If changes are made, they will be subject to legislative approval. If the standards are left as is, then they will be the new standards for Oklahoma.
These new standards are part of a process begun in 2014 after legislators voted to overturn Common Core Standards. Under the 2014 law, the state education board was to create new standards with input from K-12 schools, higher education institutions and CareerTech. In February of this year, the Legislature received a copy of these new standards. The Legislature had until Monday, March 28, to act on the standards. When Senate leaders chose not to act, they took effect.
Senate committee votes against Medicaid reduction plan
Legislation to allow the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to cut non-pregnant, able-bodied adults from the Medicaid rolls failed this week by a Senate committee.
House Bill 2665 requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to promulgate rules that eliminate benefits for any non-pregnant, able-bodied adult less than 65 years of age. Doing so, may require federal approval, which the agency will have to request in order to comply with all provisions of the measure.
With regular cuts to health care spending, ensuring benefits go to those that need them most is a necessity, according to proponents of the measure. Examples of those who need it most include 500,000 children living in poverty and 200,000 aged, blind and disabled individuals.
The bill failed on a vote of 5 to 3.
Senate committee approves autism coverage mandate
Legislation requiring health benefit plans to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in individuals less than 9 years of age was approved by a Senate committee.
House Bill 2962 requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in individuals less than nine years of age, or if an individual is not diagnosed or treated until after three years of age, and requires the coverage be provided for at least six years, provided that the individual continually and consistently shows sufficient progress and improvement as determined by the health care provider. The bill establishes requirements for the coverage. The bill also requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in individuals less than nine years of age, or if an individual is not diagnosed or treated until after three years of age, and requires the coverage be provided for at least six years, provided that the individual continually and consistently shows sufficient progress and improvement as determined by the health care provider. The bill establishes requirements for the coverage.
The legislation now awaits consideration by the full Senate. If approved with title on, it will go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
House committee approves Bill of Rights Monument Display Act
The House Tourism and International Relations Committee unanimously approved the Bill of Rights Monument Display Act Monday.
Senate Bill 14 authorizes the State Capitol Preservation Commission or its designee to permit and arrange for the placement on the Capitol grounds of a monument displaying the Bill of Rights. The bill requires the monument to be designed, constructed, and placed on the grounds by private entities at no expense to the state. The bill authorizes the State Capitol Preservation Commission or designee to assist private entities in selecting a location for the monument and arranging a suitable time for its placement.
The location of the monument is yet to be determined.
Bill Allows Military ID to Serve as Valid Permit for Firearm Carry
The House this week passed a bill that would allow active duty servicemen and women to use their military IDs as a valid permit for carrying a firearm.
Senate Bill 735, by Sen. Kimberly David, R-Porter, and Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, would allow a person 21 years or older who is on active military duty, National Guard duty, regular military or National Guard reserve duty or has retired or been honorably discharged from military service to carry a concealed or unconcealed firearm if the person presents a valid military identification card in lieu of a handgun license.
The bill now heads to the House floor for consideration.
Measure Increasing Penalty for Stolen Valor Clears Committee
Those who fraudulently hold themselves out to be a veteran or active military member in order to obtain benefits would be subject to an increased fine under a bill that passed out of Senate committee this week.
House Bill 2450, by state Rep. James Leewright, would increase the fine from $100 to $1000 for impersonating a member of the Armed Forces by wearing any decoration or medals awarded to members of the Armed Forces.
Leewright said the issue of stolen valor has increased dramatically since the 9/11 attacks and the military response that followed it, as Americans have openly honored active and veteran military personne.l
Most people who impersonate a military member want to share in that honor, while others just want to take advantage of military discounts and free services offered to veterans and active duty personnel, he said.
The bill passed out of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee and now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.