At the state Capitol things are starting to take initial shape. On the House side, there are two weeks left of committee meetings. One the Senate side, only one week left. For the bills OPEA is concerned about, this is a good thing. Just one more week of making sure the authors and committee chairs hold onto the bills that are of concern. But OPEA will have to stay vigilant. Bad bills have a way of coming back later in session in the form of amendments to other bills.
For OPEA friendly bills, time is getting short for these bills to get a committee hearing in the chamber of origin. The Association needs to continue to be assertive regarding the agenda. Bills that are favorable to OPEA need to be heard this week in the Senate and within the next two weeks in the House. For the OPEA bills that do not make it out of committee, the OPEA legislative team will be looking for opportunities to amend other pieces of legislation. A few of the bills OPEA is tracking and their current status are:
HB 3052 ( Rep.Kirby) In Appropriations; requires state employees are given a minimum of two days for Christmas; (Senate Majority Leader Lamb has agreed to carry the bill on the senate side)
HB 2675 (Rep.Faught) In Appropriations; Limits contracts over $100,000 during a revenue shortfall;
HB 2784 (Rep.Billy) In Appropriations; 4% COLA for OPERS retirees, with 2% annual COLA each following year; (Has merged with Sen. Aldridge’s SB1637 which was heard and passed out of the Senate Sub-Committee on Retirement)
HB 3385 (Rep.Terrill) In Appropriations; Possible bill for a statewide voluntary out or retirement incentive.
SB 1904 (Sen.Barrington) In Appropriations; Severance for unclassified employees who lose job through reorganization; (Rep. Scott Martin has agreed to carry on the House side)
SB 2224 (Sen. Myers) Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary; requires certificate of need for new private prisons; (Passed out of Sub-Committee and on to Full Appropriations)
SB 1096 implementation of “Governor’s Task Force on State Employee Compensation”
SB 1753 (Sen.Leftwich) Judiciary; Keeps birthdates private from Open Records; (Heard and passed out of committee with title stricken)
Bills of Concern:
SB 1392 (Sen. Sykes) Bill passed the Senate sub committee and the full Appropriations and Budget committee. Title was stricken and a committee substitute required the Department of Human Services to establish a program of random drug testing for those persons receiving assistance pursuant to the TANF program.
HB 3154 (Rep. Osbourn) Bill would allow legislators to opt out of the state insurance plan if they have proof of insurance from another source. This bill would not allow the legislators to keep any of the benefit allowance if they chose to opt out.
SB 2232 (Senator Aldridge) CompSource Oklahoma is to be sold to the highest bidder by Dec. 31, 2011. All proceeds will be retained by the State of Oklahoma. Volunteer fire departments shall obtain workers’ comp. insurance through the successor of CompSource Oklahoma.
Update from the Capitol:
1) Committee work has been the name of the game this past week. It will continue to be through the next two weeks.
2) Full Appropriations is yet to meet. This is the place where many good bills will go to die this year. Most bills assigned to the Appropriations Committee (other than the agency appropriations bills) will not make it out. But, it’s not over until it’s over!
Only two weeks into the legislative session, OPEA’s legislative agenda is still advancing. The next two weeks will be difficult. Many of the bills that have even the slightest financial impact may not be moved forward. Typical legislative mentality (especially in a budget shortfall) will be to kill many of the appropriations bills and not move them forward. Legislative leaders knowing full well, that at the end of the legislative session, any final budget agreement will include the priorities to which the House, Senate and Governor have agreed. This is why OPEA will continue to visit with Capitol leaders about OPEA’s agenda throughout the legislative session regardless of what vehicles are still alive.
Although legislators are prohibited from receiving campaign contribution from PAC’s during the legislative session, we continue to visit with our friends about their individual districts and how state employees can play a vital role in their re-elections. Non-legislators seeking state-wide office continue to contact OPEAPAC about gaining support. Additional OPEAPAC meetings will be set in the coming weeks.