From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor
Last week in the Senate, we debated and considered around 125 House bills on the floor. We’re getting into the rewarding part of session as our bills are finally being sent to the governor’s desk.
However, legislation often changes as it moves through the process. Those bills that are amended in one chamber must be approved again in the opposite chamber. If the other chamber likes a bill but doesn’t approve the amendment, they can send it to a conference committee. These are joint committees made up of House and Senate members who collaborate and try to develop language that will be satisfactory to both chambers to get approved and sent on to the governor’s desk. Seven of my bills have already been sent to the governor for his final approval. The five Senate bills include:
Making sure that the 1-10 speeding violation fine remains at $100 instead of going back to $247.
Clarifying that the legislature creates law not an independent law institute with publications.
Adding definitions to allow advanced plastic recycling in Oklahoma.
Authorizing the Corporation Commission to use electronic signatures.
Modifying the Oil and Gas Lien Act to place pooled mineral interest as first-tier creditors.
As for my two-House bills, under HB 1140, the Department of Commerce will serve as the Oklahoma Chief International Protocol Office and assist in international relations to better promote our state to nations worldwide. I’m proud to carry this bill and am anxiously awaiting Gov. Stitt’s approval, as this will help boost our economy by creating better business relationships with other nations.
HB 2877 allows law enforcement officials to utilize telemedicine for an initial mental health assessment if they believe a person in their custody needs these services. Using telemedicine can provide better access to mental health resources and get people the help they need faster. Pre-pandemic, studies showed that nearly a quarter of Oklahomans had a mental health issue. After a stressful and unprecedented year, there is more need than ever for mental health services. On a positive note, the pandemic has allowed us to be resourceful and implement more online resources like telemedicine. This measure will help better meet citizens' mental health needs while also making it easier for our law enforcement to provide this evaluation and assistance.
This week, I had the honor of carrying the governor’s executive nomination of Ryan Pitts of Wewoka to the Board of Regents of Seminole State College. His nomination was approved last Tuesday by the Education Committee. Pitts will succeed Paige Sheffield Sherry to serve an unexpired term ending July 1, 2023. I want to extend my congratulations to Mr. Pitts once again and am confident he will be a valuable asset to our excellent local university.
In closing, the pandemic left many Oklahomans unemployed. Oklahoma is more fortunate than most other states as we have the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and 45% of the jobs lost in the past year have been regained. However, there are still more than 30,000 citizens looking for work. In case you or someone you know is looking for a job, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is holding career fairs around the state next month to provide Oklahomans with the resources needed to re-enter the workforce.
OESC will be holding an in-person career fair at the Oklahoma City Convention Center from May 17-18. The public event will occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and veterans will be allowed early access from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Attendance to the career fairs will fulfill claimants’ work search requirements. A virtual career fair will also be held from May 5-28. More information about this will be available closer to the event. Businesses interested in attending and being represented at the events can register at http://regpack.com/reg/OESC. Please act fast as spots will be limited.
If my office can be of any assistance with this or other issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
To reach me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Zack Taylor, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 446, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Zack.Taylor@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5547.