Oklahoma Senate Republican leaders commented on legislative accomplishments as the 2018 session wrapped up Thursday. The leaders pointed to the largest teacher pay raise in state history, increased education funding, and significant criminal justice reforms as major highlights.
“Senate Republicans have worked to ensure our policies and priorities at the Capitol reflect long-term vision and goals for Oklahoma. The 2018 session will go down as historic for the accomplishments that will have a long-term impact on the growth and success of our state. I’m extremely proud of the men and women of the Oklahoma Senate for their service, sacrifice and commitment to our state and its people. We accomplished a lot this year and it will help move Oklahoma forward,” said President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus.
“Senate Republicans proved their commitment to our students and teachers through the largest teacher pay raise in state history, helping us retain and recruit classroom teachers who will help our students succeed. We also secured a 19 percent increase in overall education funding. Investing in our students and teachers will pay dividends long-term by ensuring Oklahoma has the skilled and talented workers and leaders it needs to grow the state’s economy,” Schulz said.
Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat said criminal justice reforms, many of which he authored, will slow the growth of the prison population, currently at 113 percent of capacity, thereby reducing the costs spent on corrections and incarceration.
“We can invest the significant savings we expect to see from reduced incarceration costs in other core services like education, mental health and substance abuse programs, and intervention and diversion programs that will further reduce crime and incarceration rates. But more than that, we will keep families together and keep more people as taxpaying citizens and productive members of society. This really is a balanced approach that keeps our communities safe while getting treatment — rather than long prison sentences — for offenders with substance abuse or mental health issues,” Treat said.
Senate Appropriations Chair Kim David said the Fiscal Year 2019 budget contains no cuts for state agencies, a dramatic change after years of cuts due in large part to the national recession and a huge downturn in the energy industry.
“Because of the national recession and downturn in energy prices, Oklahoma has been forced to make deep budget cuts. The economy is improving and policy changes in recent years have combined to generate new revenue growth and improve the economic outlook. This budget also accomplishes Senate Republicans’ goal of bettering the financial stability of our state budget. This budget relies substantially less on so-called ‘one-time money,’ and instead includes new, recurring sources of revenue that will ensure we can fund core priorities like education, mental health, public safety and transportation,” David said.
The following are among the legislative highlights of 2018: (* denotes bills awaiting action by the Governor)
HB 1010xx (special session) increased the cigarette tax, motor fuel taxes, and the gross production tax on oil and natural gas and HB 1011xx (special session) modifying the income tax code to generate new, recurring revenue to fund pay raises for teachers, support staff, and state employees.
A series of budget limit bills to provide legislative oversight of agency spending:
- HB 3706: budget limit bill Department of Corrections
- HB 3707: budget limit bill Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- HB 3708: budget limit bill Department of Human Services
- SB 1604: budget limit bill Department of Career and Technology Education.
- SB 1605: budget limit bill Oklahoma Health Care Authority
- SB 1606: budget limit bill Department of Agriculture.
- SB 1607: budget limit bill Department of Commerce.
HB 3598 (TREAT): authorizes Agency Performance and Accountability Commission to contract with AG’s Office for legal advice.*
SB 1583 (DAVID): modifies the Revenue Stabilization Fund.*
HB 3225 (THOMPSON): directs Oklahoma Tax Commission to make tax credit data available on its website.*
SB 1606 (DAVID): provides $3.40 million for the Rural Fire Operational Assistance Grants and $325,000 for the 80/20 Reimbursable Grant Program.
Passed the largest teacher pay raise in state history, giving teachers raises from $5,000 to $8,000 based on years of experience, a $6,100 on average teacher pay raise.
$52 million for support staff raises
Appropriated $2.9 billion to common education in FY’19, an increase of 19 percent
- $24.6 million increase to fund teacher health benefits
- $480 million total spent on health benefits for teachers and support staff
- $33 million for textbooks
- $17 million in new state-aid funding formula
- $7.5 million increase for concurrent enrollment ($8.42 million total funding)
SJR 70 (BICE): lets Oklahomans vote on whether to let local school boards have flexibility by allowing property tax dollars currently reserved “building funds” to be uses for other purposes.
SJR 72 (STANISLAWSKI): adopted the computer science academic standards for K-12 schools.
SB 929 (STANISLAWSKI): Changes various definitions associated with weighted points assigned to students with learning disabilities in the state school funding formula.*
SB 980 (GRIFFIN): Creates a tiered certification program for teachers, including initial, career, mentor, and leadership certification. *
HB 3220 (SMALLEY): authorizes State Board of Career and Technology Education to develop certification system for teachers and instructors who teach in technology center school districts.*
SB 1196 (STANISLAWSKI): stipulates that eligible high school students can participate in any concurrent enrollment program regardless of location in the state. *
SB 1198 (STANISLAWSKI): reauthorizes the Public School Classroom Support Revolving Fund income tax checkoff.
SB 1604 (SMALLEY): pay raise for teachers and support staff in the Career Tech system.*
HB 3311 (BERGSTROM): requires inclusion of elements of the U.S. naturalization test in state standards on civics.
HB 3562 (SCHULZ): keeps wind farms from interfering with the flight paths of military installations thereby protecting the work and mission of Oklahoma’s military bases.
SB 1475 (PUGH): creates the Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission which will review each occupational or professional licensing once every four years and make recommendations to the Legislature.*
SB 1537 (DAVID): Fixes issue with carriers receiving penalties for unknowingly violating provisions governing wine shipment.
SB 1585 (DAVID): creates income tax credits designed to incentivize qualified employers and employees in the vehicle manufacturing industry. The tuition reimbursement and payroll tax credit is capped at $3 million per year. The employee engineer tax credit is capped at $2 million per year.
SB 1171 (JECH): Creates the Work-based Learning Program under the supervision of the Governor's Council on Workforce and Economic Development.
HB 2578 (ROSINO): creates the Aerospace Commerce Economic Services (ACES) program under the Department of Commerce to bolster the state’s second-largest industry to promote job creation, economic growth and increased tax revenues for our state.*
SB 1607 (DAVID): authorized Commerce to spend $445,000 to implement the ACES program.*
HB 2772 (PUGH): eliminates “hairbraiding technician” from Cosmetology Board regulations and merely requires certification.
HB 2913 (PAXTON): creates the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program overseen by state agricultural leaders to study the economic potential of industrial hemp farming in Oklahoma.
HB 2933 (DAVID): Directs licensing boards to grant a one-year waiver of fees associated with licensure or certification to a low-income applicant.*
PUBLIC SAFETY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
SB 649 (TREAT): reduces enhanced sentences for certain repeat nonviolent felonies.
SB 650 (SHAW): authorizes offenders of no more than one nonviolent felony to apply for expungement if they have no new convictions or pending charges within the last seven years.
SB 689 (TREAT): creates risk and needs assessment as a tool for sentencing; requires intervention programming on certain domestic violence convictions; failure of offender to pay fines and costs may not serve as a basis for revocation, other than restitution and willful nonpayment.
SB 786 (SHAW): eliminates the mandatory minimum and allows a judge to sentence up to the current maximum sentence of seven years in prison for burglary in the second degree. Creates a new felony offense, burglary in the third degree (defined as breaking into a vehicle), punishable by up to five years in prison.
SB 793 (TREAT): changes the penalties for commercial drug offenses, and distinguishes conduct by possession with intent to distribute, distribution, and manufacturing.
HB 2281 (TREAT): would create a tiered penalty structure for property offenses by value.
HB 2286 (TREAT): would create an administrative parole process for nonviolent offenders who comply with case plans in prison so that the Pardon and Parole Board can focus on more serious offenders.
SB 1203 (SYKES): caps the costs and fine for a speeding violation between 1-10 mph over the limit at $100.*
SB 1590 (DAVID): authorizes bonds to fund repairs at various Department of Corrections’ facilities.*
FIGHTING THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC
SB 1446 (SYKES): addresses the over-prescription of opioids by requiring doctors and chronic-pain patients to enter into a treatment agreement. Requires a patient be staged through a limited initial prescription, a limited second prescription, and then be formally advised that continued opioid use can result in addiction.
SB 937 (Standridge): includes tribal governments on the list of entities that can be investigated by the OSBN.
SB 939 (STANDRIDGE): includes the salts, isomers, and salts of isomers of methyphenidate under schedule II
SB 940 (STANDRIDGE): Adds various compounds of fentanyl to Schedule I.
SB 1078 (GRIFFIN): adds fentanyl to the list of trafficked substances; adds penalty of $100,000 to $500,000.
SB 1367 (YEN): States that a law enforcement officer may not take a person into custody if the officer was contacted by the person in question for medical assistance (either for themselves or another person).*
HB 2795 (GRIFFIN): Directs medical facility owners that prescribe opioids to patients on a monthly basis to register with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control annually.*
HB 2798 (GRIFFIN): creates the Opioid Overdose Fatality Review Board.*
HB 2931 (GRIFFIN): requires the use of electronic prescribing for all scheduled drugs.*
PROTECTING CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
SB 1166 (DAVID): Reauthorizes tax donations to programs for the benefit of programs to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers as Court Appointed Special Advocates.
SB 1517 (GRIFFIN): Creates the Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care to create a list of best-practices for children and their families at risk of adverse childhood experiences.
HB 3300 (GRIFFIN): Breanna Bell Act, a bill to protect people with disabilities from sexual assault.
HB 1124 (LEEWRIGHT): Justice for Danyelle Act, prohibiting sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of victims’ home
HB 3328 (PUGH): creates the Commission on the Prevention of Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Adults.*
HB 2552 (GRIFFIN): establishes rights for children in the custody of Child Welfare Services.
HB 3104 (GRIFFIN): modifies the definition of “drug endangered child” by removing newborns who test positive for a controlled substance; clarifies that DHS must report any infant who is diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.*
HB 3330 (GRIFFIN) Requires DHS to develop and disseminate a form to all providers of group home services, residential services and vocational and employment services for incapacitated persons or vulnerable adults to notify direct-care staff that they may be prosecuted for having sexual contact with someone in their care.
SB 922 (SIMPSON): establishes the Oklahoma Women Veterans Program to count the number of female veterans in the state and create a list of gender specific needs for legislative consideration.
SB 931 (SIMPSON): authorizes ODVA to receive gifts given for the benefit of Veterans' programs.
SB 932 (SIMPSON): Authorizes ODVA employees to receive administrative leave for volunteer services. Must be related to the Department's core mission.
SB 1053 (SIMPSON): Authorizes ODVA to obtain certification through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accept payments and reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.
HB 3042 (SIMPSON): directs Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to create long-term care facility to replace the Talihina Veterans Center
GOVERNMENT MODERNIZATION AND ELECTION REFORM
HB 2082 (PUGH): sets the date of election for school board members to the first Tuesday of April each year (aligning with municipal election, increase turnout and participation).
SB 1403 (QUINN): Adds fire districts to the list of entities not allowed to call an election except on the authorized dates.
SJR 66 (PUGH): calls for a vote of the people to have the governor and lieutenant governor run for election on a joint ticket.
SB 1400 (PUGH): consolidates the Department of Commerce under the Lieutenant Governor’s office.*
HB 3036 (TREAT): Authorizes the Governor to appoint the health commissioner and makes the board Board of Health advisory.*
HB 3603 (TREAT): authorizes the governor to appoint the executive director of the Tourism and Recreation Department and makes the tourism commission an advisory board.*
SB 972 (SIMPSON): directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to examine the feasibility of submitting a state plan amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enable the Oklahoma Medicaid Program to reimburse providers for diabetes self-management training.
HB 2932 (PUGH): Creates work requirements to access Medicaid. Exempts those under 19, over 60, pregnant, disabled, or the parent of someone below the age of 1. Requires ODH to obtain permission from the federal government.*
HB 2987 (YEN): measure expands the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program to include physician assistants.*
HB 1270 (LEEWRIGHT): HOPE Act, directing Oklahoma Health Care Authority to contract with an independent vendor to verify eligibility prior to awarding assistance.