Midpoint Legislative Summary, Part Two

OKHOUSE Seal-webThe Oklahoma House of Representatives is now working to review legislation approved by the Oklahoma Senate. The following pieces of legislation were approved by the House of Representatives during the first six weeks of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature:

House Approves Charter School Expansion to Rural Communities

On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation to allow charter schools in rural communities.

House Bill 1696 proposes to allow a school district or community college to sponsor a charter school located within the district. The legislation also allows the state education board to sponsor a charter school under certain circumstances.

House Approves Organized Retail Crime Act

On Monday, March 9, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved the Organized Retail Crime Act.

House Bill 1966 proposes to create a felony for persons found guilty of organized retail crime with a penalty of $5,000 or a five-year sentence with the Department of Corrections. The measure also creates a seven-member Organized Retail Crime Advisory Board within the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

House Approves Burn Ban Exemption for Agriculture Producers

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation to exempt agricultural producers from burn bans.

House Bill 1462 specifies that the producer must submit his or her plan to the local fire department, notify the sheriff prior to conducting the burn, have local firefighters on site and conduct the burn in accordance with rules set forth by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry.

House Approves Right to Try Legislation

On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1074, the Oklahoma Right to Try Act.

The legislation gives terminally ill patients the right to try investigational medicines that have passed the first phase of FDA approval but still may be years away from reaching pharmacy shelves.

Similar legislation is now law in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri. Twenty-eight states, in addition to Oklahoma, are considering the law this year. The Goldwater Institute is leading the nationwide effort.

House Votes for Foster Children Higher Education Bill

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved House Bill 1848.

House Bill 1848 directs the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education to encourage more foster youth to participate in the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program by alleviating certain financial eligibility restrictions and providing an opportunity to track these youth through higher education, to ensure that they are taking appropriate classes and completing their degrees.

House Votes to Strengthen Boating DUI Penalty

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure to increase the safety of Oklahomans on lakes and other bodies of water.

House Bill 1714 proposes to revoke the drivers license of an individual “operating or being in actual physical control of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, any other intoxicating substance.”

Under the proposed bill, an individual’s license would be suspended for 30 days for the first revocation, 60 days for a second revocation and 90 days for a third revocation. An individual’s sobriety or drunkeness would be determined by a test performed within two hours of an arrest.

House Votes to Ban Payment of Union Dues by State Payroll Deduction

On Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to prohibit the payment of union dues by state payroll deduction.

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 was again approved Monday, March 16, by the Senate General Government Committee.

House Votes to Waive Graduation Requirement for Children of Military Families

On Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation to create a graduation requirement waiver for the children of military families.

House Bill 1330 proposes to direct the state education board to adopt rules that require school boards to waive the Oklahoma history high school graduation requirement for children of military families who move from another state and who have satisfactorily completed a similar state history class in another state.

House Votes to Help Children with Severe Epilepsy

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation to allow the medical use of cannabidiol, a marijuana plant derivative, for children.

House Bill 2154 proposes to allow the use of cannabidiol for persons 18 years of age or young participating in a clinical trial or in an expanded access program related to the administration of cannabidiol for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy. The measure would also allow for the use of cannabidiol to treat a child diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome or any other severe form of epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies.

House Approves Bill to Aid OSBI Internet Crimes Against Children Unit

On Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, the Oklahoma House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation to aid state investigations into crimes against children.

House Bill 1048 proposes to allow the Internet Crimes Against Children unit at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to subpoena witnesses and records pursuant to an investigation with the appropriate approval.