Bills continue through committee work
We’ve had a much-needed slowdown the last couple of weeks after the craziness to get all of the Senate bills heard on the floor by the deadline. During Spring Break, we returned to our committees but many House bills were still being assigned so there weren’t many to consider. Budget negotiations are ongoing and legislative leaders are getting close to an agreement.
This past week, all the bills had been assigned and work continued as usual. While a few House bills have already made it to the Governor’s desk and been signed, the full Senate heard nine more on the floor last Thursday. We’ll see many more on the floor agenda as committee work speeds up. Again, our deadline to report House bills out of committee is Thursday, April 11.
My HB 1024 was approved unanimously in the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee. Again, this bill will allow certified peace officers to work as off-duty security at establishments engaged in the alcoholic beverage business. With all of the new liquor laws, many establishments are now allowed to have tastings and sell alcohol when they weren’t before but with the stronger beers and additional offerings, it’s important that there be peace officers to ensure people aren’t drinking and driving as well as ensure the safety of patrons in these establishments.
I was pleased to welcome several school principals from around our district to the Capitol as well as Newkirk’s Leadership Class. We had great discussions about session progress and issues important to them.
On Thursday morning, all of the Freshmen Senators and I held a breakfast for our fellow Senators and Senate staff. We truly appreciate all of the hard work of our staff in researching and drafting bills as well as relaying that important information to the public. Our fellow Senators have also been instrumental in educating and guiding us through the legislative process as we work to further those issues important to our constituents.
We also had the special privilege of celebrating Veterans Appreciation Day at the Capitol. A joint session was held to honor our brave military veterans past and present and their families. Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell opened the special ceremony and Thunderbird Youth Academy cadets presented the Colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Oklahoma Air National Guard Chaplain Captain Danny Baker gave the invocation. We then heard from Oklahoma Adjutant General Michael Thompson and Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Bill Kokendoffer, who is the President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Mid-America Chapter, was named the Oklahoma Veteran of the Year by the Oklahoma Veterans Council. Bill served in the U.S. Navy from 1972-1974 and was stationed at Naval Station Norfolk. He was paralyzed in an 18-wheeler accident shortly after completing his service. In 2003, he accepted his voluntary role in the congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organization. He has volunteered over 43,000 hours serving and helping his fellow paralyzed veterans.
We also honored 1st Lt. Damon Leehan who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He honorably served in the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment and 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. We paid tribute to his family including his wife Audrey and children, Emma and Ethan. We must always remember that it’s not just our military men and women who serve but their families. Members and their families miss out on holidays, birthdays and other family memories during service. Freedom isn’t free. When these valiant service members pay the ultimate price for their country so do their families.
Please lift this precious family and the many others whose loved ones put God and country above all else laying their lives down so others can live free and unoppressed. God bless these heroes.
You can contact me at the state Capitol by calling 405-521-5581 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, represents Senate District 10.