The week in review: March 10, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

Legislators spent this week hearing bills on the House and Senate floor after last week’s deadline left 809 bills and joint resolutions alive. Budget bills can be filed later in the session pursuant to House and Senate rules. The bills not heard in committee or those having do pass motions that failed in committee cannot be reconsidered until 2018 when the second session of the 56th Legislature convenes.

According to House Speaker Charles McCall, the cigarette tax will not be voted on by the March 23 deadline. It will instead go to the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget.

The House passed HB1114 to provide teachers with a pay increase. Authored by Rep. Michael Rogers, it is known as the “1, 2, 3 plan” and would provide a $6,000 increase over the next three years – 1,000 the first year, $2,000 the second year and $3,000 the third year.  Senate leadership is uncertain if a teacher pay raise is a possibility this year with the state’s current budget shortfall. Nevertheless, there are plans for a coordinated effort between the House and Senate to put the framework for a raise in place.

Republican Zack Taylor and Democrat Steve Barnes won the special election primary held on Tuesday for House District 28. The two will face Libertarian candidate Cody Presley in the May 9 special general election.

Due to spring break, the House will not meet next Wednesday or Thursday. The Senate is not expected to meet next Thursday. 

Legislation Summary

Two measures closely watched by the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma passed the Senate this week, SB0075 and SB0668.

SB0075, authored by Sen. Wayne Shaw, expands the scenic river designation on the Illinois River. 

SB0668, also authored by Sen. Shaw, reincorporates 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.

Both bills will now move to the House for consideration. 

A complete list of measures monitored for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma can be accessed here.