The Pryor Times

Breaking News

Opinion

February 18, 2013

Bills work their way to law

“Sickness comes on horseback but departs on foot.” ~Dutch Proverb

          

Like many of you, it has been a season of illness in the Hoskin household. From one random viral illness to another, Amelia, Stephanie and I have all been met on horseback by sickness. Luckily though, we have managed to rebound from everything, albeit slower than we would like.

The 54th Legislature began to gather steam this second week of session as bills continue to make their way through committee and for some, see the light of day on the House floor. We saw a number of important developments outside of the House chamber, and overall, the spring and coming weeks are beginning to take shape.

According to the state Treasurer, state revenues are beginning to rebound. While that is certainly good news, I and many other fellow legislators are concerned about pending legislation that would shrink Oklahoma’s revenue growth with reductions to the state income tax. We know that the amount of money requested by core state agencies, like Education, Human Services, and Corrections, exceeds the amount available, even with growth revenues taken into consideration.

At the end of the day, we cannot restore years of cuts and fully fund core state services while cutting revenues at the same time. As the dialogue progresses on the budget this legislative session, we hope this ill-advised plan to cut the income tax is set aside and those monies are instead invested back into our children’s schools, our corrections and law enforcement officers, and our health care system.

Legislative activity is picking up steam as bills are beginning to be heard in committees. Bills passing out of committees are available to be heard before the entire House body.

HB 1999 and HB 1920 passed through committees and would legalize horse slaughterhouses in Oklahoma and would allow aerial hunting of feral hogs.

HB 1911, passed out of committee this week. It would require terminated employees to prove that they weren't fired for misconduct, such as willfully disregarding regulations or chronic absenteeism, in order to receive unemployment benefits.

HB1325 passed out of committee and requires that new state employees would have their retirement benefits calculated by using the final average salary period for five years instead of three years.

HB1063 passed out of committee and seeks to disband the Children First Home Visitation Program and require the return of federal Affordable Care Act funding and suspend three smaller home visitation programs until an audit could be performed.

HB2133 failed to pass in committee. It sought to instruct the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to limit increases in resident tuition and fees to the lesser of 3 percent or the rate of inflation for the most recent complete year.

HB2166 passed off the House floor and is headed to the Senate. The bill authorizes the court to require individuals who owe child support and are willingly unemployed to work two eight-hour days per week in a community service program administered by the county commissioners.

It is my pleasure to represent you in Oklahoma’s House for another term. Please let me know you have any questions or comments about these items or another matter. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to chuck.hoskin@okhouse.gov; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, P.O. Box 941, Vinita, OK 74301.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion