Columns/Opinions

Thu
28
Mar
Edgar's picture

Senate Bills in House Committee, OK Youth Expo

It’s been a slow week at the Capitol, a sharp contrast to the rush of last week’s deadline. The House gathered twice this week to advance Senate bills past first and second reading so they could be assigned to various House committees.

 

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Thu
21
Mar
Edgar's picture

The More Things Change, the Less They Stay the Same

Jaded observers of Oklahoma politics often express their cynicism with the phrase, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” In other words, while we may think we are making a difference, in reality, we are all just spinning our wheels.

As someone who believes in the power of people to affect transformative change, I don’t like the phrase or its implications. So, at the risk of sounding like an Oklahoma version of Yogi Berra, I am coining a new one: “the more things change, the less they stay the same.” Engaged citizens are changing and improving Oklahoma every day, even if it sometimes feels like we are having the same conversations about the same problems. In fact, sometimes change happens because we insist on having those same old conversations until we break through.

Thu
21
Mar
Edgar's picture

The Ever-Growing Debt Challenge

Last week, President Trump sent his annual budget request to Congress for consideration. While the president’s proposal is not binding, it does importantly reveal the Administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and represents a necessary step in the annual budget and appropriations process. Considering that the president’s recommendations are aspirational, some floated ideas were clearly more realistic and sensible than others. But in general, I think President Trump was on the right track to emphasize funding for the nation’s defense and to further restrain some domestic spending.

Thu
14
Mar
Edgar's picture

A Rushed and Partisan Product

By Congressman Tom Cole

Last week, House Democrats brought to the floor an enormously misguided piece of legislation that would limit free speech, weaken election security and redirect hardearned taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns. While the Democrats mistakenly called their hallmark H.R. 1 bill the “For the People Act,” a closer review and analysis of its content reveals that the legislation would be more aptly named “For the Politicians Act” or the “Welfare for Politicians Act.”

Thu
14
Mar
Edgar's picture

House Addresses Gov. Accountability, Teacher Certification Stipend

By Rep. Toni Hasenbeck

This last week has been occupied with hours on the House floor. After last week’s committee deadline, all remaining bills are now eligible to be heard by the entire House until our next deadline, March 14. We have several hundred bills to hear before then, so we’ve spent a lot of time discussing and debating on the floor.

On Wednesday, I presented one of my bills, House Bill 1360. The bill allows teachers who are up for national board certification to be awarded a stipend to begin that renewal process. HB1360 would help ease the cost of this renewal for our state’s teachers by allowing them to receive a stipend of up to $1,000 to assist with this process. This bill unanimously passed the Common Education Committee last month and I’m very pleased that it passed the House floor unanimously as well, with a 94-0 vote.

Thu
07
Mar
Edgar's picture

Capitol Update by Sen. Chris Kidd

It’s been a busy month at the Capitol with hundreds of bills having made their way through the committee process. Nearly 100 Senate bills have already had a floor hearing and are on their way to the House. That being said, we still have a tall order to meet with 460 more Senate bills to hear on the Senate Floor by the deadline which is Thursday, March 14th.

Four of my bills made it out of committee. SB 576 would require school employees to report suspected abuse of students under 18 to DHS and suspected abuse of students over 18 to local law enforcement.

SB 674 would add retired judges of a municipal court to the list of retired personnel authorized to carry a firearm for personal protection.

Thu
07
Mar
Edgar's picture

House Passes Unity Bill, Constitutional Carry Becomes Law

We’ve had a busy week at the Capitol—from the first bill signing of the session, to medical marijuana debate and committee deadlines, I’ve been hard at work to represent the people of House District 65.  

On Thursday, the House heard House Bill 2612, more commonly referred to as the medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill.’ After State Question 788 passed in June, the legislature formed a bicameral, bipartisan committee to work with medical marijuana proponents, law enforcement and medical trade group leaders to develop a framework to regulate medical marijuana. This bill, officially titled the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, was passed unanimously out of that working group committee after 13 meetings to develop the legislation.

Thu
21
Feb
Edgar's picture

House Passes Bill to Allow Citizens to Carry Firearms Without Permits

OKLAHOMA CITY - The House of Representatives today passed a measure that would allow citizens to carry a firearm without a permit.

House Bill 2597, by state Rep. Jon Echols, would allow anyone age 21 or over to carry a firearm without a permit. It would permit veterans and active duty and reserve military personnel age 18 or over to carry without a permit. The measure would prohibit felons and those with domestic violence convictions or who have been adjudicated as having a mental illness from carrying a firearm. The bill does not affect current federal law requiring a background check for the in-store purchase of a firearm.

In places where carrying a firearm is currently prohibited, the bill allows those private property owners and college campuses to continue to set their own policies regarding the carrying of firearms on those premises.

Thu
21
Feb
Edgar's picture

For the Children: Bill to Reduce Uninsured Rates Moves Through Committee

The legislative session is moving quickly this year and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is currently tracking a whopping 530 child-related bills. Each of these bills must be heard and approved by committee within the first four weeks of session. Those that miss that deadline can be held over and reexamined in 2020. Many bills will not advance, and that 530 number is sure to shrink considerably once we enter March.

Thu
21
Feb
Edgar's picture

Second Week Saw House Show Support of Constitutional Carry, Teacher Pay

This week the House heard several bills on the floor. One bill you probably saw in the headlines was House Bill 2597 by Rep. Jon Echols of Oklahoma City. This is the constitutional carry bill that was very similar to the bill passed by the House and Senate last year before it was vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin. This year’s version of the bill successfully passed the House with a 70-30 vote and will now move to the Senate, where it will undergo the same legislative process before it goes to the governor’s desk.

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