“A bad system will beat a good person every time.”
—W. Edwards Deming
The ninth week of session wore long for legislators in the House, as we grappled with a strenuous committee schedule along with deliberations and earnest debate on the House floor.
Some of the legislation considered last week does not create new laws in as much as it improves, corrects and clarifies existing statutes.
For example, legislation modernizing the Commissioners of the Land Office was approved and is now headed to the governor. House Bill 3026 creates the Commissioners of the Land Office Reform and Modernization Act.
The Commissioners of the Land Office, better known as the “School Land Trust,” is a constitutional, non-appropriated agency that administers the school land trust funds for the production of income for the support and maintenance of the common schools and the schools of higher education. All of the public schools in District 6 currently receive funds from this trust.
In recent years, outdated institutional practices and accounting systems led to the opportunity for mismanagement of the agency. The legislation puts in place a modern management infrastructure for the land trust, improves accounting practices in accord with best practices and recent audit recommendations, and updates or repeals obsolete statutes and rules.
Additionally, two notable Senate bills passed House committees last week. One bill strengthens existing statutes on election fraud and the other provides flexibility to Department of Public Safety employees facing furloughs.
Senate Bill 1921 is legislation seeking to further deter election and voter registration fraud and increases the maximum punishment for felony and misdemeanor violations of the election code. The legislation increases the felony punishments from a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 and from two years to five years imprisonment and increases misdemeanor punishments from a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
Senate Bill 1810 would allow Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officers of the Department of Public Safety prohibited from part-time employment elsewhere to seek that employment during a period of furlough.
Although legislators hope to avoid a situation in which furloughs occur, with uncertain state revenue and a massive downturn, it is important to create a safety net for officers by allowing them to seek part-time employment. The restriction from part-time employment would go back into effect two weeks after the furlough.
If you have any questions or comments about these bills or any other legislative matters, please contact me. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502; emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; or writing Representative Chuck Hoskin, State Capitol Building, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 509, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
n Chuck Hoskin is state representative for District 6.