Legislative briefs: Oklahoma Governor signs several bills into law

Oklahoma Senate and House
Exterior of the Oklahoma Capitol building Thursday, January 14, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Governor signs bill capping copay cost of Insulin for Oklahomans with diabetes

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation helping Oklahomans with diabetes better afford insulin has become law after being signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday, April 20.

House Bill 1019 caps the copay for a 30-day supply of insulin to $30 and $90 for a 90-day supply for each covered prescription. Copays are currently based on individual insurance plans. HB 1019 gives authority to the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner to enforce the price cap.

Bill author Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton, thanked the governor for his support.

“Since introducing House Bill 1019, I’ve heard from many Oklahomans across the state who can hardly afford to pay the rising cost of insulin while also juggling their other bills,” Worthen said. “This bill will save lives by making insulin affordable for those who need it. Nobody should be forced to choose between paying their rent and paying for their life-saving medication.”

The bill was carried in the Senate by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, who has been a tireless advocate for Oklahoma’s diabetic community after losing his granddaughter to complications related to Type 1 diabetes.

“Diabetes affects more than 450,000 Oklahomans, and nearly half of those have Type 1 diabetes and are dependent on insulin,” Simpson said. “For many diabetics, having access to affordable insulin can literally mean the difference between life and death, avoiding amputations, blindness or other serious medical problems. Ever-increasing prices, however, are forcing many to ration or skip their insulin to pay for groceries and utilities, which is very dangerous. This bill is a step in the right direction in making insulin more affordable and helping improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s diabetics.”

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 450,000 Oklahoma adults suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Oklahoma, giving the state the fourth highest age-adjusted diabetes death rate in the nation. Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney failure and early death—all of which is preventable with proper management.

HB1019 goes into effect Nov. 1, 2021.

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Bills signed to help get transferred military kids in school faster

OKLAHOMA CITY – Each year, thousands of military families are transferred to Oklahoma’s four military bases. Navy veteran and Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee chair Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, authored a pair of bills this session to help these families speed up the process of getting their children back in the classroom. Senate Bills 68 and 69 were signed into law Tuesday.

The first was a request of the U.S. Department of Defense to bring Oklahoma in line with other state under the National Compact on the Education of Military Children. SB 68 provides school district residency status to children of active military members who have been or will be transferred to a state military base.

Schools will be required to accept electronic student enrollment applications and parents must provide proof of residence within 10 days of moving to Oklahoma.

Currently, only Oklahoma residents can enroll in a statewide virtual charter school. SB 69 provides the same provisions as SB 68 to allow military children to enroll in virtual charters.

“We have a large military population in Oklahoma, and these bills will make it easier for those transferring in to get their children back to school as quickly as possible,” Simpson said. “It’s hard enough being a military family with the constant moving and deployments. These measures will help take away some of the burden of getting their kids enrolled and back in the classroom. I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their tremendous support of these two bills to help our military families.”

Rep. Max Wolfley, R-Oklahoma City, whose district includes Tinker Air Force Base, is the principal House author of the bills.

“I believe that Senate Bills 68 and 69 will help ease the burden military families and children are facing when enrolling in virtual charter or other public schools, and I was glad to work with Sen. Simpson to carry this legislation in the House,” Wolfley said.

The measures will go into effect July 1, 2021.

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Governor signs measure legalizing intrastate crowdfunding

OKLAHOMA CITY – Intrastate crowdfunding is now legal in Oklahoma after Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 568 on Monday.

The measure, authored by Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, and Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, allows small startup businesses to raise capital through crowdfunding, which is the practice of funding a venture by raising small amounts of money from a large pool of people.

“This measure allows investors of all sizes to participate in investing in Oklahoma businesses,” Montgomery said. “Allowing our small businesses to tap into capital investments in this capacity will be a boost to our state’s effort to diversify our economy. I’m thrilled we were able to see this measure to the finish line, and I thank the governor for his support.”

Under the bill, sales or offers to sell a security are exempt from the Oklahoma Uniform Securities Act of 2004 if:

The issuer is a corporation or business residing and doing business in the state, the purchaser is a resident of the state, and the transaction meets the requirements of the federal exemption for intrastate officers;

Sales are limited to $5 million, and the aggregate value of securities sold by an issuer to any person doesn’t exceed $5,000, unless the purchaser is an accredited investor;

Commission or remuneration is not paid or given to a broker-dealer or agent; the issuer files quarterly and fiscal year-end reports to the Oklahoma Department of Securities; and

The issuer holds funds in an escrow account.

“Senate Bill 568 cuts red tape and allows greater opportunities for start-up business growth in our state and for Oklahomans to invest in these home-grown companies,” Hilbert said.

The measure went into effect immediately upon signing.

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Stark, Hill criminal justice Reform bill signed into law

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation by Reps. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, and Brian Hill, R-Mustang, that will revolutionize the way Oklahomans reenter the workforce after incarceration has been signed into law.

House Bill 1679 would require the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections (DOC) to identify inmates leaving custody within nine months of release and begin gathering certain documentation to help them find post-incarceration employment. The documentation would include a four-year state ID, birth certificates, Social Security cards, vocational training records, work records and resumes.

“Throughout my career, prior to being elected to the House, I worked directly with many people who were experiencing homelessness or couldn’t access a food pantry because they had lost track of their identification,” Stark said. “Providing items as simple as a state ID, other identification paperwork and documentation of work history can significantly help a person leaving incarceration find a job, find housing and find their footing in society.”

Stark and Hill have pursued the policy changes for several years. In 2020, Stark filed legislation to provide state IDs for people upon their release from incarceration, and Hill filed legislation to require DOC to provide an offender with documentation that will assist them in finding post-release employment. Both bills passed the House but were not heard in the Senate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, we’re not helping our citizens who have paid their debt to society get back on their feet as much as we should be,” Hill said. “Not only does this bill help grow our economy and promote public safety, but frankly, it’s the right thing to do. With the signing of this legislation, I hope we as a state can become better neighbors to these Oklahomans.”

HB1679 was carried in the Senate by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.

“I’m so grateful and proud to have worked on this legislation, because it’s goal is to help those who have served their time succeed as they return to their communities, their families and the workforce—that’s a positive not just for those individuals but for our entire state,” Weaver said.  “I want to thank Representative Stark and Representative Hill for their hard work on this bill, our fellow members for their support, Governor Stitt, for signing the legislation, and our First Lady, Sarah Stitt, for her leadership on this important issue.”

HB1679 is named the “Sarah Stitt Act” after First Lady Sarah Stitt’s work to help people leaving incarceration find employment and enter the workforce after the historic commutations in Nov. 2019.

It takes effect Nov. 1, 2021.