Senate Session Update ~ week 12


Week No. 12 of 56th Legislature

Total Senate Bills and SJRs introduced in 2017: 877

Total reported from committees: 412

Total reported out of the Senate: 347

Total House bills & HJRs reported to Senate: 320

Total House bills reported to the full Senate: 245

Total House bills reported out of the Senate: 232

BUDGET

The Senate continues work on the FY18 budget

o Senate Republicans are meeting regularly to discuss different aspects of the budget

o Budget bills continue to make their way through the legislative process – being considered and evaluated by the Senate Appropriations Committee and House A&B committee

 A variety of proposals are being discussed to help fill the nearly $900 million shortfall

o All options are on the table; the solution will likely be a combination of new revenue streams, tax credit reform, agency efficiencies, and apportionment reform

BUDGET REFORMS

o The Senate took further steps to help address the nearly $900 million shortfall this year and identify ongoing revenue sources to provide long-term stability to the state budget

HB 2311 (Schulz) creates an independent commission to conduct comprehensive performance audits of state agencies

 During “bad” or “good” budgets our goal remains the same: to ensure the most cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. This measure will provide lawmakers with independent data to help us make more well-informed decisions about the state’s spending priorities.

HB 1427 (Leewright) instructs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to hire auditors with the specific focus on ensuring out-of-state companies are paying taxes already owed to the state of Oklahoma

 Some estimates are that for every $50,000 expenditure by the state on this project will yield $500,000 in collections.

HB 1856 (Bice) creates a task force to study the Oklahoma Tax Code including potential and sustainable revenue streams available to different levels of government and potential and sustainable budget cuts.

The Senate also approved several JCAB bills that bring real revenue to the table for this budget year and future budget years

o All of these measures are evidence of Senate Republicans’ commitment to reforms that provide new revenue to shore up this year’s budget shortfall, as well as provide stability and reliability long-term for the state budget.

EDUCATION

Teacher Pay Raise:

o Senate Republicans have consistently said the goal was to put a framework in place this year for how a much-needed pay raise would be implemented when there is sustainable revenue to pay for it.

We have to fill in the nearly $900 million shortfall before we can add new expenses

o Though legislation filed in the Senate and House failed to make it past deadlines, there is still time and options available (JCAB, Pro Tem/Speaker bill) to advance a teacher pay-raise plan if an agreement is reached.

o The Senate and the House continue to discuss this important subject because Oklahoma Senate Republicans agree that teachers deserve a pay raise.

Increasing Lottery Funds for Education

o Senate approved HB 1837 (David) which increases lottery prizes in hopes of increasing funding for education

o The bill would prevent a $25 million loss over the next five years.

o Lottery officials have said the lottery had maxed out on what it could give to education.

Reviewing School Finances

o Senate approved HB 1578 (Stanislawski) which creates the School Finance Review Commission to study all matters related to school finance

This measure helps provide understanding and accountability in school finance.

o Senate approved HB 1202 (Quinn) which defines “per-pupil expenditure” in statute

Ensures policymakers can make an “apples to apples” comparison on education funding statistics, rather than rely on numbers from various interest groups who sometimes skew those figures to match their policy agendas.

o Both measures provide lawmakers with more information helping them to make more well-informed decisions on school funding matters

Expanding educational opportunities for kids in DHS custody

o Allows for a student adopted while in the permanent custody of DHS to participate in the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program.

o LNH has been very successful program allowing thousands of children with disabilities find the right school to meet their educational needs.

PUBLIC SAFETY

 Criminal Justice reform

o The Senate this week approved House versions of several criminal justice reform measures.

o These measures ensure we hold people accountable for their actions, but also that we help people who have substance abuse issues or mental health problems treatment rather than simply locking them up

o These criminal justice reform measures will help us control increasing prison population and the high costs associated with incarceration.

o Those substantial savings can be then reinvested in areas like education, health care, and public safety – three areas that also will help

o These common-sense, conservative reforms have been successful in other states like Texas, which has seen its prison population decline and crime rate reduced since reforms were introduced.

 Protecting data of Oklahomans who don’t choose a REAL ID

o The Senate approved HB 1465 (Dahm) requiring a warrant to share information gathered as a result of compliance with REAL ID. This measure provides further protection for the privacy of Oklahomans.

 Protecting victims of sexual assault

o Senate approved HB 1468 (Holt) modified the statute of limitations on criminal charges so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday, and HB 1470 (Holt) which modifies the statute of limitation on civil suits regarding sexual assault so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday.

Research shows children sexual assault victims typically don’t talk about their experience until their 40s.

o Senate approved HB 1005 (Griffin) which elevates the crime of rape by instrumentation to rape in the first degree, a measure that will

o These measures ensure justice can be served for the victims of sexual assault and that victims’ rights are protected and upheld by the legal system.

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