The legislature crossed another deadline threshold this week finishing up the second and final committee deadline of the legislative session. While Senate bills assigned to House Appropriations and Budget still have one more week, all other bills were required to be passed out of their assigned committee from the opposite chamber of which they originated from.
Initial numbers show that there are roughly 500 bills and joint resolutions remaining available for consideration ahead of the next deadline on April 27, which will require bills to be passed off of the floor of the opposite chamber. Following the April 27 deadline, both chambers will turn their focus to the budget for fiscal year 2024, which must be passed by both chambers by May 26 at 5:00 PM.
HB 1329 by Rep. Judd Strom and Sen. Bill Coleman remains alive and is available for consideration by the full Senate chamber. If passed, HB 1329 would require any state agency owned, operated, or leased land for livestock grazing to be enclosed by a fence. The state agency or respective lessee would be responsible for setting and maintaining the fence. Additionally, the state agency would be permitted to enter into a material and labor cost-sharing contract with adjacent landowners.
HB 1847 by Rep. John Kane and Sen. Grant Green passed out of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs committee this week. HB 1847 adds two additional members to the Emergency Drought Commission. Currently, the Commission is made up of the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Due to the Open Meetings Act, two members of the commission could not meet to discuss issues relating to the Drought Commission’s work without violating the Act. HB 1847 would allow two members to discuss ideas for Commission spending and programs ahead of official meetings in order to work out details in advance.
HB 2398 by Rep. Neil Hays and Sen. Paul Rosino received approval from the Senate Retirement & Insurance committee on Tuesday. HB 2398 would allow a first responder to receive Worker’s Compensation benefits for mental injury or illness resulting from an on-the-job experience.
A similar bill to HB 2398 that died earlier in the session would have then allowed for a municipality to pass on any cost incurred by the worker’s compensation claims to the property taxes of everyone living within the service district of the first responder without a vote or notice to those required to pay regardless of whether or not they lived within the city limits or not.
HB 2398 would only allow the municipality to pass on the additional cost to their judgement rolls if a public safety protection district had been established by a 60% approval of voters within the municipality. The increase in property taxes would only apply to taxpayers with property within the city limits.
For an update on weekly happenings at the Capitol and an outlook on what is ahead, be sure to tune in to Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s Weekly Public Policy Update each Friday at Noon.