Each November in Oklahoma, we have to educate ourselves on the new laws going into effect. This November is no difference and with over 200 new laws, lawmakers and agencies must make every effort to educate the public. I want to highlight a few of the new laws that will make a major impact on the daily lives of citizens. I want to preface this by saying that I did not support every measure that I will mention but believe it is important to talk about the laws that will impact the most people.
1. Texting and driving
There has been a major push in the last couple of legislative session to ban texting and driving specifically. Finally, it was pushed through this year. It is now a primary driving offense to operate a handheld communications device, a cell phone, during the operation of a moving vehicle. This bill was aimed at reducing texting and driving but will also target the use of apps, email, and using the internet browser.
2. Seat belts
Another law that has broad impact is the change to the current seat belt laws. This new legislation requires children to be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two years old.
3. Online voter registration
The Oklahoma State Election Board is now authorized to accept online voter registrations. Any Oklahoman with a valid driver’s license will be able to complete the voter registration form online and will receive their voter identification card in the mail. This is a major change to how Oklahoma has operated. There have been a lot of people expressing their concerns about the security of a system like this but the State Election Board has assured the Legislature that the system will be secure.
4. Incentive reviews
A great friend of mine, the late Representative David Dank, was a tireless advocate for the overhaul of the tax credit system. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could see his work reap the benefits. A pair of bills established a process for which each and every tax credit will be reviewed to determine if they are meeting their purpose and providing a benefit to the public. These common sense reforms will allow the State to determine which tax credits are effective and which are not.
5. Tobacco-free schools
In most public schools throughout the State, tobacco is prohibited however there was a small percentage of school districts that did not have an anti-tobacco policy. This law requires that every public school be tobacco-free.
6. Volunteer fire departments
This legislation changed the criteria for volunteer firefighters. Previously, if a person was over 45 years of age, then they were prohibited from being a volunteer firefighter because of stress on the public pension system. This new legislation allows person over 45 to serve as a volunteer firefighter if they opt out of the pension.
7. Teacher aid
There is now question that Oklahoma faces a teacher shortage but districts have been limited to what they can offer, above a salary, to recruit teachers to a district. With this legislation, school districts will be able to offer incentive pay and the district could help out-of-state- hires with moving costs.
Obviously, these are just a few laws that I thought were important to share because of how they impact our state. If you have any questions about any of the legislation mentioned or legislation I did not mention, please contact me at 405-557-7354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.