With the great education debate still ongoing, many of the legislative decisions will be made behind closed doors until the end of session. Next Thursday (05/18) is the ideal deadline for big budget bills so that there can be an opportunity to override a veto from Gov. Stitt prior to sine die, or the end of legislative session, on May 26.
On the House floor:
At this stage, bills that have been amended must return to their chamber of origin for approval of the amendments before getting the chance to be reviewed by the governor. To get a piece of legislation to these final stages takes an immense amount of effort and debate. It takes a significant amount of luck and a lot of behind-the-scenes planning to get a bill passed after the back and forth activity at the end of the legislative session.
House Bill (HB) 1792 was one of the first in our track to have amendments rejected from the other side. The bill seeks to reclassify certain felony offenses. It passed the Senate unanimously prior to being sent back over to the House with amendments. It will now have to wait and be assigned to a conference committee or it will become dormant. However, bills that become dormant in this initial whirlwind, can still be revived later in the second half of the session.
HB 1634, which would allow school personnel to remove shoes and hand covering to conduct a warrantless search, passed through the House with amendments approved and has been sent to Gov. Stitt. It now awaits a signature, veto, or to be ignored by sine die.
A bill that would permit courts to use discretion and depart from minimum sentencing for minors who were victims of trafficking or assault, HB 2210, was signed into law last week. This bill is a positive step for criminal justice reform. Lawmakers needs to continue making progress for less people to end up in jail and trapped in cycles of injustice.
HB 1612, which would increase the time served for shooting crimes, was also finalized and sent to Gov. Stitt.
On the Senate side:
Senate Bill (SB) 368, which would ensure the provision of contraceptive care, had the House amendments rejected. The original bill focused on protecting contraceptive care and provided details, while the amendment sought to insert language specifying it did not include abortion. SB 1063, which would initiate tax credits for employers creating childcare services for employees, also had amendments rejected.
Bills which come through and have amendments rejected or title removed must go through a conference committee to have another chance at life. Only then can they make it to the Governor’s desk to have a proper chance at becoming law.
SB 108, which would create additional penalties for repeat violations of drug-related offenses, was sent to a conference committee. Several additional bills were assigned to conference committees, including SB 193 that would provide paid maternity leave for state employees. SB 376 and 377 relating to voting rolls and signatures also were sent to conference committees.
The upcoming week will see much more public action and potential in-fighting than the previous weeks at the State Capitol. We are eager to see what large budget decisions will be made, and if they will benefit hardworking Oklahomans.