Oklahoma’s legislative session began in early February and despite the looming budget discussions, OPEA has been active at the capitol. In addition to continuing to tell lawmakers not to cut state employees’ compensation to balance the budget and reminding them of the critical services that state employees provide, OPEA members and staff have been busy working on several pieces of legislation, both good and bad. Below is a current update on the status of several pieces of legislation that impacts OPEA members.
Legislation Supported By OPEA
Education Incentives Program: House Bill 2997, by Rep. Lewis Moore, authorizes state agencies to establish education and training programs for positions critical to the mission of a state agency. The bill has passed out of two committees and is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.
Voluntary Buy-Out (VOBO) Recurrence: House Bill 2896, by House Minority Leader, Rep. Scott Inman, allows state employees to receive more than one VOBO in their career. The bill has passed out of two committees and is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.
Department of Corrections (DOC) Double-Shifts: House Bill 2545, by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, caps the number of double-shifts a DOC officer may be required to work per week at two. The bill has passed unanimously out of two committees and is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.
State Retiree Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) House Bill 2839, by Rep. Jon Echols, which would’ve allowed a COLA for retirees, was not granted a committee hearing.
Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) Board: House Bill 2507, by Rep. Mark McBride, would have required the OPERS board to have members appointed from the state’s largest association representing state employees. The bill was not granted a committee hearing.
Department of Corrections (DOC) Overtime and Retirement: Senate Bill 1047, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, required the mandatory overtime hours worked by DOC officers count towards years of service for retirement credit. The bill failed in committee by a 3-3 vote. The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Jason Smalley, said the bill had merit and deserved to be “championed” next session, but voted against the measure due to OPLAA concerns.
Department of Corrections (DOC) Commissions: Senate Bill 1458, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, required DOC provide agency peace officer commissions to officers who are CLEET certified. The bill was not granted a committee hearing, but the language of the bill may be added to HB 2545, by Rep. Bobby Cleveland.
Maternity Leave: House bill 2538, by Rep. Eric Proctor, authorizes an additional 160 hours of leave for the birth or adoption of a child for all state employees and teachers. House Bill 2897, by Rep. Scott Inman, creates the “Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act” and seeks to protect the employment and health of pregnant workers. Neither bill was granted a committee hearing.
Legislation of Concern to OPEA
OPEA Annual Mailings: Senate Bill 962, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, repeals OPEA’s ability to send an annual mailing to state employees. The bill was successfully passed out of the General Government Committee with the title and emergency clause stricken. The bill is eligible to be heard on the Senate floor.
Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA): Senate Bill 955, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, moves some classified GRDA employees into the unclassified service. The bill passed out of two committees with the title and emergency clause stricken and is eligible to be heard on the Senate floor.
Health Benefit Allowance: Senate Bill 1466, by Sen. Kim David and Senate Bill 1551 by Sen. Dan Newberry impact health insurance options for state employees and pre-Medicare retirees. They require Employees Group Insurance Board to offer HMO plans with the same actuarial value to the PPO plan with the highest level of benefits offered and remove the risk adjustment for health plans. SB 1466 passed unanimously out of Senate Appropriations Committee after the title was struck and she told committee members the benefit allowance would not be changed in her revised bill and the only change she would seek would be to the risk adjustment factor. SB 1551 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee with the title struck.
Agency Consolidation: House Bill 2864, by Rep. Mike Christian, consolidates Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation into one agency under a commission. The bill has advanced out of two committees and is eligible to be heard on the House floor. Senate Bill 1561, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, is a similar bill on the Senate side and has advanced to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 873, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, consolidates the Merit Protection Commission with OMES and has advanced to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 895, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, consolidates the State Bond Advisor with the State Treasurer. It has advanced to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 1526, by Sen. Ervin Yen, transfers the duties of the Physician Manpower Training Commission to the Department of Commerce. It has advanced to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 1541, by Sen. AJ Griffin, transfers the duties of the Office of Disability Concerns to the Department of Rehabilitation Services. It has advanced to the Senate floor.
The four bills consolidating the Department of Tourism with the Department of Commerce did not advance. Also, the bill transferring the duties of the Department of Tourism to the Department of Wildlife was not granted a hearing in committee.
MedEncentive: House Bill 2489, by Rep. Doug Cox, sought to extend a doctor-patient mutual accountability pilot program established earlier. The bill was defeated in committee.
Payroll Deduction: House Bill 2687, by Rep. David Brumbaugh, dealt with payroll deduction or payment of any kind to lobbyists. The bill was not heard in committee.