Inclement weather affects legislative schedules
This cold snap and ice storm threw a wrench in our Capitol schedules. Because of late starts, we had to move some meetings back and got as much work done as we could. While we didn’t get as many bills as we had hoped through committee, more than 260 have made it through. Many are double assigned, so they still have to go through the full Appropriations Committee, which will have a long agenda during the work week beginning Feb. 15. We’ve also sent 36 bills to the House for further consideration.
Several of my bills have made their way through committee. Two are awaiting a hearing on the floor – SB 302 and SB 385. The other three must be heard in full Appropriations -- SBs 394, 456 and 609. You can read all of these on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov under Legislation.
SB 302 grants visiting teams in all regular-season high school athletic competitions the same rights to radio broadcast, video stream and provide telegraphic play-by-play accounts as the home team beginning in the 2021-22 school year.
SB 385 authorizes a retail spirits licensee to serve samples of beer, wine, and spirits to consumers on its licensed premises. Servings will be limited, on the licensee’s premises, poured from original containers, and served only to those 21 or older.
Two of my bills were approved by the full Senate and sent on to the House for review. Again, SB 47 will allow district courts to destroy certain paper files once they have been digitized and computer storage has been provided by the district attorney.
SB 85 authorizes a multiple small brewery license holder to sell its beer at all its breweries regardless of which one it was produced in.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, I had the privilege of presiding over the Senate floor session. As the presiding officer, it’s my job to keep work moving on the floor and see that decorum is observed by all members.
While the Legislature was extremely busy this week, the governor was as well. He signed the first bill of the session. To ensure the health and safety of public meetings, the Legislature fast-tracked SB 1031 extending the exemptions to the Open Meeting Act that expired in November. These special rules allowed public government meetings (including school boards, city, county, state, etc.) to occur virtually with specific guidelines to ensure full transparency and public involvement. When an issue is extremely important, the House and Senate can skip the committee process and send a measure directly to both chambers to ensure it gets to the governor’s desk as quickly as possible.
The governor also signed three executive orders this past week. One will be of great interest to our Senate district. It directs the Department of Public Safety to expedite renewals or replacements of valid driver licenses and identification. It waives restrictions on tag agents to make driver license renewal easier, allow citizens to get an identification if a REAL ID isn’t available, allow people to get a downgraded license if necessary, and allow third parties to administer driver’s license exams.
My office has been inundated with complaints about wait times and other problems with license renewal. The pandemic has caused a massive backlog, but hopefully this will get things moving.
The other orders dealt with ensuring access to propane and protecting Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry from federal overreach.
As always, it is a pleasure serving as your voice at the Capitol. If I can be of any service, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at 405-521-5581 or Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.