March 1, 2018 Weekly Wrap

Gov. Fallin Signs 2018 Fiscal Year Budget Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today signed House Bill (HB) 1020XX, the Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill, into law. The $6.98 billion budget covers the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The measure cuts state spending by about $44.7 million and requires every state agency to cut about 2 percent from their budgets over the next four months. It is the result of two special sessions that Fallin convened after three health-related agencies were plunged into a $214 million budget shortfall last August when a proposed smoking cessation fee was struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Fallin urged lawmakers to pass revenue and reform measures to make up the funding gap. However, members in the House of Representatives failed to muster the required three-fourths majority necessary for certain revenue measures.

“Most House Democrats chose politics over people by refusing to vote for the budget package,” said Fallin. “Their no votes resulted in votes against a teacher pay raise, funding our health and human services and protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and against putting our state on a stable budget path forward. Unfortunately, House Democrats kept moving the goalposts and the people of Oklahoma are the ones who lost.

“Developing a budget in this difficult fiscal and political climate is never easy. This budget keeps our government operating and, despite challenging circumstances, funds our core mission services. Passage of the Step Up Oklahoma plan, House Bill 1033XX that failed earlier this month would have helped fill our budget hole for the current fiscal year as well as put Oklahoma on a more stable budget path.”

The governor also signed HB 1021XX, which states legislative intent that a number of social service programs, mainly for the elderly and disabled, be kept at their original budgetary levels.

Committee Deadline Passes

Inclement weather that closed the House two days last week forced dozens of bills to be on the agenda in many House committees in order to meet the March 1 deadline for passing all House bills and House joint resolutions out of standing committees. Appropriations & Budget subcommittees finished work on House bills last week. Bills passed in committee are now eligible to be heard on the House floor. Committees likely will resume meeting the week of March 26 to consider Senate bills.

Rogers Announces He Will Not Seek Re-election

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Michael Rogers announced this week this would be his last legislative session. He is not seeking re-election.  Rogers represents Broken Arrow and District 98, which covers parts of Tulsa and Wagoner County.

“The challenges these past few months with the health of my wife have brought great clarity and focus on what is most important in my life,” said Rogers, R-Broken Arrow.  “They made me realize how much work I put on my wife while I am at the Capitol.  They also made me realize I was missing a lot of my three boys’ activities, games and practices. As all the representatives will tell you, this is not a four-month-a-year job, and to do it right and effectively it is pretty much year round.”

Rogers also resigns his position as Chairman of the Common Education Committee effective immediately.

“I cannot continue with the workload, meetings and important responsibilities that being the Chair of Common Education requires. I am confident Speaker McCall will find a qualified replacement that will carry on the work with which the committee is tasked.  This decision wasn’t easy, but sometimes in life you have to give up something you love for something you love even more. It has been a great honor to serve in the House, and I have built lifelong friends on both sides of the aisle. I will always cherish my time in the House and how blessed I am to have served with so many quality members.”

Rogers was first elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2014.  He serves on the Common Education, Banking, and Business, and Judiciary committees as well as on the Appropriations & Budget Health Subcommittee.

Legislation Seeks to Remember Juneteenth

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to modify state curriculum standards has unanimously passed the House Common Education committee with a vote of 11 to 0.

House Bill 3471, authored Rep. John Paul Jordan, requires the U.S. History component of Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum to include information about Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

“The ending of slavery should be recognized in every community in Oklahoma,” Jordan said. “As President Lincoln stated, ‘If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.’  It is important for us as a nation and as a state to remember our mistakes and to celebrate when we correct those mistakes.”

Rep. George Young, the leader of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, added a friendly amendment to the legislation that would make June 19 an official state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth.

“It is quite an honor to be part of this legislation to recognize this historic moment in the journey of this country,” said Young, D-OKC. “It is another step to help the citizens of Oklahoma and our educational community to be able to lift the importance of diversity and the moments when our nation struggled to find a better path.  The first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states:  ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’  It was not factual at that moment in time and the beauty of this nation is that we continue to struggle to make those words true for all citizens.  This legislation helps us as a people to see the struggle and to be a reminder of how much work there is still to do.”

The legislation is now ready to be heard on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Once it passes the House, it will then move to the Senate where the bill is being carried by State Sen. Anastasia Pittman.

“I am honored to carry this legislation in the Senate,” Pittman said. “We are moving Oklahoma forward and recognizing that we are celebrating diversity and sharing common ground.  We must expand our social studies curriculum, according to §70-11-103.6b, and textbooks to reflect American diversity, to fulfill our obligation to teach diversity, and this is a great opportunity for us to ensure that Oklahoma and American History has value.”

“If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”… For Real!

OKLAHOMA CITY – People with Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) policies are closer to being able to see providers of their choice and avoid expensive out-of-network (OON) deductibles and additional out-of-pocket charges with the passage of House Bill 3228, The Patient Protection Act.

The measure increases healthcare access at no additional cost.

“Even if doctors are no longer in your health insurance network, you’ll be able to keep them and they’ll get paid as in-network providers as long as the doctors agree to the in-network benefits and deductibles,” said state Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia and the chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

Moore is the author of HB3228. Two additional measures by Moore also won passage in committee Tuesday.

Efforts to repeal a $2.50 tax every month on every covered person to cover losses in the Affordable Care Act’s federal insurance exchange for health insurance policies passed in the House Insurance Committee on Tuesday, in the form of House Bill 3244. The tax is projected to cost Oklahoma policyholders about $215 million dollars the first year.

Doctors who refer patients with PPO coverage to out-of-network providers for care cannot be “Delisted” or otherwise removed from the Health Care Network as stated in House Bill 3229, which also passed out of committee on Tuesday.

The bills are now eligible for a vote by the entire House of Representatives.

Senate Pro Tem, Lt. Governor meet to continue discussion on school security

In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Florida, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and Lt. Governor Todd Lamb met this week to further the conversation on school security and safety.

In 2012, Lt. Governor Lamb chaired the Oklahoma Commission on School Security (OCSS), which issued a detailed report of findings and recommendations on school security and safety issues. Lamb said he plans to meet again with those who served on the 2012 commission, and whose work has served as a national model for other states studying school security issues.

Pro Tem Schulz said he appreciates Lamb sharing his input and expertise earned after more than a decade of work on school security. Legislation that Lamb sponsored while a member of the Senate has served as model legislation for other states reviewing school security issues, Schulz said.

“As a parent of two children who attended public schools, I can’t imagine the tremendous sadness of those parents in Florida who lost their children in this horrific tragedy,” said Schulz, R-Altus. “We need to continually examine whether we need to do more at the local and at the state level to keep our kids, teachers and schools safe. Lt. Governor Lamb is an expert on the issue given his time in law enforcement, as a member of the Senate working on school security, and his work with the Oklahoma Commission on School Security. I appreciate Lt. Governor Lamb’s willingness to share his expertise with the Senate as we continue to look at school security issues.”

Schulz said he wanted to further the conversation on school security as legislators consider, in the wake of the Florida tragedy, if any further action is necessary on school security.

“As a state senator in 2008 I authored SB 1941, the Oklahoma School Security Act, and in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, I led a thorough, comprehensive discussion to assess the security of students, teachers and school personnel in every Oklahoma school,” Lamb said. “After a ten-week comprehensive analysis, that included dozens of subject matter expert presentations, 20 findings were presented. Among the findings, five recommendations were made, the primary of which was the creation of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security. I am proud of the commission’s work, and wide variety of professionals who gave of their time to serve, including teachers, superintendents, counselors and school board members, law enforcement, public safety officials and many more.”

“In the wake of the tragedy in Florida, it is time to review the policies and action plans of the OCSS, and to discuss any new polices that could aid in further strengthening school security. I look forward to meeting with the commission, and I commend Senator Schulz for his dedication in supporting the same. The security of our students, teachers and support personnel must be a daily priority,” Lamb said.

Gov. Fallin Selects Clark Jolley as Secretary of Finance, Administration & Information Technology

OKLAHOMA CITY –  Governor Mary Fallin today announced she has selected Oklahoma Tax Commissioner Clark Jolley to serve on her executive Cabinet as secretary of finance, administration and information technology.

Jolley, of Edmond, is vice chairman of the Tax Commission and a former state senator. His appointment requires Senate confirmation. He succeeds Preston Doerflinger, who resigned last month.

As secretary of finance, information and technology, Jolley will be responsible for advising the governor on fiscal policies.

Jolley served in the state Senate from 2004 until 2016, the last five years as chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He could not seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits. He also has served as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma Christian University and Mid-America Christian University.

“Clark Jolley has a thorough understanding of state government finances and our state’s budget structure,” said Fallin. “Clark works hard to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. As a member of my Cabinet, Clark will assist in addressing structural deficiencies within the budget-making process and working on common-sense reforms to provide stability and create efficiencies to save taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”

Jolley earned two degrees from Oklahoma Baptist University, a law degree from the University of Oklahoma, and a certificate in public treasury management from the National Institute of Public Finance at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

“I appreciate the governor’s confidence in me to serve as a member of her Cabinet,” Jolley said. “I consider it an honor to serve the people of Oklahoma, and I look forward to expanding my role in working to improve our great state.”

He and his family make their home in Edmond, where his children attend Edmond Public Schools.