Here are some recent updates:
• Sen. Bergstrom files voter qualification legislation
Legislation filed Wednesday would allow voters to decide who is qualified to participate in Oklahoma’s election process.
Senate Joint Resolution 23 by Senator Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, would allow a vote of the people to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to clarify only citizens of the United States are qualified to vote in Oklahoma.
“Currently, U.S. citizens who are residents of Oklahoma have the right to vote, but non-citizens are not disallowed,” Bergstrom said. “Without a constitutional change, a future legislative body could allow non-citizens to vote. This state question would make that impossible, unless a vote of the people decides to allow it first.”
If SJR 23 is passed by both the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives, the measure would appear as a state question on the November 2020 ballot for the people to approve or deny.
“While other states move toward undermining the importance of United States citizenship and the privileges and responsibilities that come with it, I believe Oklahomans wish to protect those things,” Bergstrom said.
• Senator Brooks successfully spearheads effort to bring modern pricing practices to Oklahoma
At the request of Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, for an official Attorney General Opinion, the Office of Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter released a legal opinion regarding the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s so-called “No-Surcharge” statute that limited consumer choice in making purchases.
Sen. Brooks sought the Attorney General’s opinion with the goal of allowing more flexible payment options in Oklahoma that offer benefits to both businesses and consumers. In light of significant developments in federal constitutional law that bear directly on the legality of Oklahoma’s “No-Surcharge” statute, Attorney General Hunter concluded that the Oklahoma state law that bars nationally common pricing practices unconstitutionally restricts free speech.
The decision allows businesses to apply credit card surcharges as long as they make the required consumer disclosures, giving state merchants more flexibility on how they manage their costs.
“As a result of this restriction, both businesses and consumers in Oklahoma have been denied information that would help each group make important decisions about how they buy and sell products and services. This opinion today gives consumers more choices on how to pay and will also give merchants more flexibility on how they manage their costs,” Brooks said.
CardX, an innovative technology company that automates compliance in merchant payments, worked closely with Sen. Brooks to identify the issue and call out how this dated statute was impeding the ability of merchants and consumers to adopt a mutually beneficial modern payments technology.
For many businesses, credit card fees are the second-highest operating cost after payroll. But merchants want to accept cards because in many industries, offering customers the option to pay with credit has become crucial to continued success.
“This result in Oklahoma solidifies an inevitable payments industry makeover,” said Jonathan Razi, CardX Founder and CEO. “Until today, Oklahoma was one of five states where we couldn’t serve businesses, and this decision means that 94% of the United States by population is now open to credit card surcharging.”
• Senator Lankford to Serve as Chairman of Senate Select Committee on Ethics
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) statement that he was selected to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics:
“It is an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility to fill the role as Chairman of the Select Committee on Ethics following Senator Isakson. Senator Isakson has been the model of bipartisanship, integrity, and fairness throughout his career in the Senate. It is my desire to ensure the Senate maintains adherence to federal law and Senate Rules. I look forward to serving in this position alongside Vice Chairman Senator Chris Coons.”
Lankford succeeds Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) who is retiring at the end of the year. The jurisdiction of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics is derived from the Constitution and authority granted under law and Senate Rules. Lankford will assume the chairmanship in January 2020.
Lankford also serves on the Committee on Finance, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on Indian Affairs.