OKLAHOMA CITY —
“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw
Last week ended on a snowy, slushy note as the House convened to finish the third week of the session. We only have one more week to go before hitting the first of our deadline weeks, marking the point where all committee work for legislation originating in the House must be completed.
The legislature now knows how much money we have to work with and Oklahoma will see a slight increase in available funds. As a result, many of my colleagues and I will continue to fight to restore funds to core state services and remedy the drastic cuts our state agencies have undergone in recent years. Interestingly, I have noticed time and again the ways in which many legislators have proposed to make up for the lost revenues in these same core services. Bill after bill making its way through House Committees increases fees, robbing Peter to pay Paul. For example, one proposed fee increase would double the cost of a disability fishing license. Another imposes “a processing fee of not more than Five Dollars…per controlled hunt.” Yet another eliminates the non-resident five-day hunting license. Another bill allows the District Attorney to charge a fee of up to $40 a month for the duration of a probationary period.
This week, the House will hear yet again a plan to cut the state income tax. Meanwhile, the Common Education committee passed a bill that repeals the Fund Education First law and eliminates the requirement for full-day kindergarten. So rather than helping schools maintain full service, some of my colleagues propose to give education the same amount of money as last year, asking for a cut in services instead. Noteworthy legislation passing out of committees last week:
House Bill 1503, by Curtis McDaniel, would outlaw texting by drivers while their vehicle is in motion. The bill exempts texts to emergency response operators, medical providers, firefighters and law enforcement. The penalty would not exceed $500.
HB1623 would implement suicide prevention education in schools.
HB 2279 would require health education courses in public middle schools.
HB 2101 would allow schools to stock epi-pens used for emergency treatment during severe allergic reactions.
HB 2059 would require carbon monoxide detectors in facilities where people sleep.
HB 2227 would establish the Runaway Child Alert System Act.
HB 1094 would exempt home bakeries from food preparation licensing requirements in the state. To qualify as a home bakery, they could earn no more than $20,000 a year and produce baked goods for sale that do not contain meat or fresh fruit.
I appreciate those of you who have reached out to me recently to voice your opinion about the many legislative issues under consideration.
It is my pleasure to represent you in Oklahoma’s House and the only way I can do so is to have your input. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, P.O. Box 941, Vinita, OK 74301.
Chuck Hoskin is state representative for District 6.