The 2015 legislative session has ended, and I wanted to share some of the highlights.
From a big picture perspective, I was proud that the Senate took some real steps toward a more thoughtful and transparent budget process. I played a role in that as the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Select Agencies. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over 85 different entities spending funds that belong to the people of Oklahoma, and through the course of the session we met with dozens of them to provide oversight that has rarely been provided to these entities in the past.
Personally, I was proud to author 11 different pieces of legislation that became law. They were:
Senate Bill 144 – Creates a specialty license plate for OETA, giving that entity another method for private fundraising.
Senate Bill 249 – Allows counselors licensed out-of-state to practice in Oklahoma during times of emergency. This was an issue after the 2013 tornadoes.
Senate Bill 312 – Consolidates elections for local elective office to either one cycle in the spring or one cycle in the fall. This is intended to cut down on voter fatigue, save money, and increase turnout.
Senate Bill 313 – Creates a secure online system for accepting voter registration applications. A third of eligible Oklahomans are not registered and it is hoped this moves the needle.
Senate Bill 425 – Resolves some issues from legislation I passed in 2014 that allowed nonprofits to apply for liquor licenses for their fundraising events.
Senate Bill 486 – Updates the uniform law on child support collection.
Senate Bill 494 – Stops the practice of the state sending billing statements for domestic violence services to the homes of doemstic violence victims.
House Bill 1008 – Ensures more notice and deliberation before the adoption of urban renewal plans.
House Bill 1037 – Provides a framework for the handling of police body cam videos under the Open Records Act.
House Bill 1681 – Clarifies that state employees are covered by the Governmental Tort Claims Act.
House Bill 1824 – Transfers the Art in Public Places program from the Historical Society to the Arts Council.
Next year, I expect to continue pushing forward on election reform. I made ten proposals in January. Three of the concepts made it into law (two by me, one by others). A fourth passed the Senate; it and the remaining six are eligible again for consideration.
I will also continue to push for more public school options for our young families in the inner city. My House Bill 1696 gives OKC and Tulsa the ability to authorize charter schools in the inner city, providing more options to young families. It passed the Senate 38-6 with bipartisan support and can be considered in the House in 2016.
This past session, I also took the opportunity to present resolutions noting the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing and the 50th anniversary of the election of Senator Melvin Porter, our first African American Senator.
If you want to see the real-time media coverage of my session, there are about 100 stories from the last five months archived at this link. If you want to keep up with me, “Friend” me on Facebook, “Follow” me on Twitter or Instagram.
As always, thank you to the people of the 30th Senate District of Oklahoma for the trust you have given me. It is an honor to serve you. Please contact me if there is ever anything I can do for you.