June 2, 2010

Session is officially over

The Express-Star

— By State Sen. Ron Justice

These last few weeks were extremely hectic and stressful as we worked to get a budget deal together.  At the beginning of last week, we had around 215 bills still working their way through the process.  

Unfortunately, not all of those measures survived since all our work had to be completed by 5 p.m. Friday.

I’m pleased to say that the Governor signed one more of my bills.

HB 2958 exempts trucks loaded with hay from the requirement of securing load to prevent escaping from the truck.  The measure also provides a definition of “split tandem axle” as used in the size and weights statutes.

Several more of my bills are on the Governor’s desk awaiting his approval

• SB 1714 provides that for purposes of awarding contracts state agencies will give preference to goods and services that have been manufactured or produced in this state if the price, fitness, availability and quality are otherwise equal; and also give preference to goods and services from another state over foreign goods under the same conditions.  

It also adds a percent increase to the bid of a nonresident bidder equal to the percent, if any, of the preference given to the bidder in the state in which the bidder resides.”

• SB 1956 creates the Agriculture Mediation Board, which will oversee the Oklahoma Agriculture Mediation Program. The program is authorized to provide mediation services to all individuals, businesses, and state and federal agencies that are engaged in production agriculture, and agriculturally or environmentally related activities.  

The Board is to be comprised of a five-person executive committee and a fifteen-member Advisory Committee.  All members must be engaged in or serving agriculture.

• HB 2929 creates the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education Act, the purposes of which is to facilitate cooperation between the state and tribes regarding Native American education and to promote equitable learning environments.  

The Council is required to report annually to the State Department of Education, and will sunset July 1, 2014.  The measure also contains provisions related to Council meetings and travel reimbursement.

• HB 3291 adds public safety services and community buildings, courthouses, town halls, senior nutrition centers, meeting rooms or similar public features to the list of projects that can qualify for funds through the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) and the REAP Water Projects Fund.

It also reprioritizes the projects that qualify for funds and specifies that at least 80 percent will go to projects prioritized one through six in the measure while any remaining funds can go to other projects listed.

• HJR 1089 disapproves the permanent rules of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.   

• HCR 1067 was approved by the Legislature. This resolution urges Congress to continue to support and protect the Capper-Volstead Act and other related federal statutes in order to ensure the ability of farmers and ranchers to join together in cooperative efforts.  

Concurrent resolutions don’t have the force or effect of law; therefore, they don’t have to be signed by the Governor.  They are simply used to express the will or opinion of the Legislature.

I’m disappointed that the Governor vetoed HB 3290, which I coauthored. The bill provides regulation of health insurance coverage for elective abortions.  It prohibits such coverage for qualified health plans offered through the state Exchange, and provides that any such coverage of elective abortions be achieved only through optional separate supplemental coverage.  Finally, it provides pricing and notice requirements for such supplemental coverage.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be traveling around the district talking to various groups about the session overall as well as my bills.  We’ll also use this time to discuss the public’s ideas about future legislation as well as concern or questions about current laws.  This is the people’s Legislature, and as always I’m here to serve you and be your voice at the State Capitol.