Claremore Daily Progress

March 3, 2014

The spices of legislative life

Chuck Hoskin
State Representative


“Two cheers for Democracy; one because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism.” — E. M. Forster
 Last week was another week of variety, sprinkled with ample amounts of criticism, at the Capitol.
 Senior citizens from across the state were in the Capitol on Monday in celebration of Senior Day, and a variety of booths pertaining to senior-related services were established in the rotunda. 
 Scores of independent pharmacists rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday to criticize the low reimbursement rates issued by several large pharmacy benefit managers.
 Legislators are scrambling to modify the third-grade reading sufficiency law which goes into effect this year which has been the subject of much criticism. The law specifies that third graders who do not meet reading proficiency standards on the April 2014 standardized test or meet narrow exemptions are to be retained.
Under House Bill 2625, the decision of whether to retain a student or advance him/her to the fourth grade would be made by a “team” consisting of the student’s parent or guardian, a teacher, the school principal, and a certified reading specialist, if the school employs one. In either case, the pupil “shall be provided intensive reading instruction,” the bill stipulates.
House Bill 2773 would authorize an appeal process based on “hardship or extenuating circumstances” for students who fail the reading sufficiency test. That measure, too, stipulates that the student would be provided “intensive reading instruction.”
Both bills passed the House Committee on Common Education in split votes.  
House Bill 2779 passed out of committee last week and would give the executive director of the state Corrections Department the authority to create contracts with local telephone companies to establish an emergency notification system at each state corrections facility to notify the public of facility emergencies or escapes. 
A measure that would substantially change the way the Legislature operates passed unanimously out of the House Rules Committee last week.
House Joint Resolution 1003 would place a state question on the November ballot that, if approved, would allow the Legislature to consider substantive measures only during even-numbered years. The resolution would allow the Legislature to continue considering appropriations and budget bills on an annual basis.
Under the resolution, in odd-numbered years, the Legislature would only consider appropriations and budget bills, which would allow the Legislature to implement a comprehensive review of agency budgets and would give members more time for input, consideration and debate of the state budget. The Legislature could only consider substantive bills during even-numbered years, which would reduce the number of laws that are passed.
Legislation passing out of committees last week is now available to be scheduled by the Floor Leader for consideration on the House floor.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about these or any other pieces of legislation. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
Chuck Hoskin is state representative for District 6.