Thursday, April 23, was the deadline for House lawmakers to hear Senate bills on the House floor. The following legislative action took place from April 20-23:
Measures to Protect Religious Liberty Clear Final Legislative Hurdles
On Wednesday, April 22, the Oklahoma Legislature voted to protect religious liberty with the passage of Senate Bill 788 and House Bill 1007.
Both bills would create legal protections for any church or clergyman who chooses to exercise his or her freedom or religion as protected under the First Amendment.
The measures now proceed to the governor’s desk.
House Votes to Ban Powdered Alcohol
On Tuesday, April 21, the Oklahoma House of Representatives 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 will now proceed to the governor’s desk.
Tax Credit Reforms Advance to Governor’s Desk
On Tuesday, April 21, the Oklahoma Senate and Oklahoma House of Representatives gave approval to two proposals that would develop a system for evaluating tax credits and economic incentives to determine their effectiveness.
Senate Bill 806 requires that any economic incentive include a measurable goal or goals when enacted.
House Bill 2182 will provide legislators with independent data on economic incentives, including estimated fiscal impacts and assessments of whether incentives are achieving their goals.
Both bills now advance to the desk of the governor.
Drug Testing Improvement Measure Signed into Law
On Tuesday, April 21, a measure aimed at improving drug testing methods was signed into law by the governor.
House Bill 1494 improves drug testing devices for impaired driving and he said the provisions entailed in the measure cover screening devices important to the fight against impaired driving.
The bill also extends the sunset on the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2022. The bill also states that the board is required to set rules and uniform standards for devices, equipment, procedures and techniques for screening tests.
As stated in the measure, collection and analysis of a person’s blood, breath, saliva or urine, to be considered valid and admissible in evidence, shall have been performed in compliance with the rules adopted by the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence. Also, an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Board for this purpose or shall have been performed by a laboratory accredited in Toxicology by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
Language in HB 1494 also adds the Dean of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine to the board. It also states that the chair and vice chair of the board shall be up for election every two years.
The new law will take effect on July 1.
New Law Makes Assault on Off-Duty Officer a Felony
On Tuesday, April 21, the governor signed into law a measure to increase the penalty for assaulting an off-duty law enforcement officer.
Currently, the assailant would face a felony charge for an assault on a uniformed officer, but only a misdemeanor if off-duty. House Bill 1318 would make assault on an off-duty officer a felony.
The new law takes effect Nov. 1.
New Law Expands Volunteer Base for Firefighters
On Tuesday, April 21, the governor signed into law a measure to eliminate the current age limit of 45 for new volunteer firefighters.
House Bill 2005 gives potential volunteers the option to join without a pension if they are above the age of 45.
The new law takes effect Nov. 1.