The week in review: April 14, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

Thursday was the deadline for bills to be heard in committee in the opposite chamber. Bills that failed to make it out of committee are considered dead. The exception to this is bills assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, which have an extended deadline of April 20.

Over the next two weeks, the legislature will focus on floor hearings. April 27 is the deadline for bills to be heard in the opposite chamber. Of course, budget negotiations will be ongoing as well. With Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger announcing this week the state will have to borrow another $31 million from other funds to cover the state’s expenses after already borrowing $240.7 million from the now empty Rainy Day Fund, a solution to Oklahoma’s budget crisis has to be found – although it likely won’t come easy.

Shell bills filed by the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on Tuesday provide some indication of the current budget discussions. The House plans to reveal the language next week. The bills will be divided into two categories: “51s” and “76s” based on the number of votes needed to pass them. The “51s” will involve changes to tax credits, deductions and exemptions and the “76s” raise revenue. It appears measures raising revenue are still being considered even though 26 Republicans announced opposition any new taxes or tax increases.

Legislative Summary

Three measures closely tracked by the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma passed out of committee this week and one failed to advance before Thursday’s deadline. 

  • HB1326 passed the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, amended. Authored by Rep. Casey Murdock and Sen. Lonnie Paxton, the bill prohibits the operation of drones over private agricultural property and provides exemptions. The bill is now eligible for a floor hearing in the Senate.
  • The House passed and Gov. Fallin signed SB0668. Authored by Sen. Wayne Shaw and Rep. Josh West, the bill incorporates language previously included in the original Scenic Rivers Act. The bill states the legislature recognizes an effective program for preserving the scenic beauty of the free-flowing streams and rivers designated as a scenic river area necessarily involves the cooperation and support of the people in the operating areas of a designated scenic river, as well as the people using the scenic river, and the agencies of state government administering these areas and that the primary purpose of the Scenic Rivers Act is to encourage the preservation of the areas designated as a scenic river area in their natural scenic state. It also removes the requirement that certain statutory provisions and administrative rules of the Scenic Rivers Commission remain in effect until July 1, 2017. 
  • HB2132 failed to receive a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee and is now considered dormant. Authored by Rep. Charles McCall and Sen. Greg Treat, the bill would have authorized the governor to enter into prosperity compacts.

A complete list of measures monitored for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is available here