According to Oklahoma’s Constitution, the legislative session must end no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May. That deadline is quickly approaching and our attention is now focused on completing final work on policy legislation and passage of the budget for the fiscal year beginning this July 1.
This week four of my policy measures came before the full Senate for final approval—the last step before the bills are sent to the governor for consideration. Senate Bill 987 is one of those measures. This is the bill aimed at closing loopholes in the current law addressing drug-related deaths. The problem with our current statutes became clear after two East Central University students died last year from taking a synthetic, or “designer” drug ordered on the internet. The person who distributed the drug could have been charged with first-degree murder if the substance had been heroin or cocaine, but new designer drugs aren’t addressed by current law. In addition, if someone making meth causes a fatal fire, that person can be charged with first-degree murder under arson statutes, but not if it is a fatal explosion without a fire. This legislation closes those loopholes.
Senate Bill 1565 enables the creation of a pilot program to train education majors how to treat children with language learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Studies have shown that if educators are trained to recognize and use appropriate teaching methods for children with learning disabilities, a reading failure rate among third and fourth graders can be reduced from 20 to 35 percent to below 10 percent. The pilot program would be contingent upon the availability of grant funds, meaning no state dollars would be used.
I also won passage for two bills that I believe are extremely business friendly and will help eliminate unnecessary red tape. Senate Bill 1493 came at the suggestion of a constituent who was frustrated with the certification process for real estate appraisers. Currently volunteers are used to review applications. When there are too few available, applicants would sometimes face long delays in getting their certification processed. SB 1493 allows the Real Estate Appraiser Board to contract with qualified appraisers to review the applications, greatly speeding up the process.
Senate Bill 1537 was suggested by a Garvin County business. Currently, if you have a business which owns several large vehicles and trailers, when you get a permit from the Department of Public Safety so that you can transport goods, the permit can only apply to one particular vehicle and one particular trailer. If either is unavailable, you can’t make a substitution, and you can’t use the old permit. You have to file a new permit and pay another fee. This legislation would allow the original permit to be good for any combination of permitted vehicles to be combined with permitted trailers that the company lists in their inventory with DPS.
I believe each of these bills will improve public policy in a variety of areas, and I thank the constituents who took the time to share their concerns so that they could be addressed before the legislature.
As always if you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 521-5541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an honor to serve as your voice at the State Capitol. If I may be of help, please contact me. May God Bless you!