The week in review: April 7, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

Committee work occupied the legislature this week. However, the House and Senate did carve out time to take up several measures on the floor.

After last week’s news of the state borrowing from the rainy day fund to pay its monthly expenses, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger asked for an attorney general’s opinion on the issue.

The House Appropriations and Budget Committee took a step toward eliminating the trigger that reduces the individual income tax from five percent to 4.85 percent when it passed SB0170. The measure can now be considered by the full House.

HB 1482, the bill that would have reinstated some felony drug possession crimes in Oklahoma, was pulled from committee this week by the bill’s author, Sen. Anthony Sykes. It will likely not be taken up again this year. Proponents of criminal justice reform are happy with the move

The House and Senate will wrap-up committee work next week in time for the April 13 deadline for House and Senate Bills to be reported from committees in the opposite chamber.

Legislative Summary

Five of the Oklahoma Conservation Coalition’s priority measures were taken up in committee this week. Four advanced and one did not.

  • The House Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee passed 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. 
  • The Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee passed HB1304. Authored by Rep. Casey Murdock and Sen. Darcy Jech, the bill modifies definitions within the Oklahoma Swine Feeding Operations Act. It allows municipalities to issue a waiver of the setback requirements for swine feeding operations and extends the waiver to changes in ownership of the property. 
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee passed HB1392 after adopting a committee substitute. Authored by Rep. Dell Kerbs and Sen. Eddie Fields, the bill reauthorizes the Oklahoma Wildlife Diversity Program checkoff. The committee substitute creates an Oklahoma Emergency Responders Assistance Program checkoff.
  • The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed SB0586 after restoring title. Authored by Sen. Darcy Jech and Rep. John Pfeiffer, the bill reauthorizes the income tax check-off contained in the Wildlife Diversity Fund.

All four measures are now eligible for floor hearings.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Select Agencies failed to pass SB0075. The bill would have expanded the scenic river designation on the Illinois River. 

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