From the Desk of Sen. Zack Taylor
We’re heading into the eighth week of session and have returned to our committees to start working on House bills. Nearly 420 were sent over from that chamber for our consideration. By last Thursday’s deadline, we successfully heard and approved nearly 460 Senate bills sent across the rotunda.
Nineteen of the House bills that I’m serving as the Senate Principal Author made it out of the House and over to our chamber. I’ll be working in the next few weeks to get those heard and approved in committee by the Thursday, April 8 deadline. We’ll discuss them next week.
So far, I’ve co-authored nine Senate bills and two House bills that are still working their way through the legislative process.
SB 368 prohibits any governmental entity from declaring or deeming churches or other religious institutions and their activities nonessential.
SB 723 prohibits doctors from performing an abortion on an embryo if the embryonic or fetal heartbeat is audible.
SB 821 defines “pharmacy benefits management” related to the Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act and broadens pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) to include any entity performing pharmacy benefits management activities. This broadens the prohibition on PBM’s, forcing customers to use pharmacies that the PBM directly or indirectly owns to include the PBM's affiliates. Additionally, contracts between a PBM and pharmacist cannot prevent the disclosure of the total pharmacist services’ costs for a prescription drug or from selling a more affordable alternative to the covered person if such alternative is available, nor shall such contract fall below a certain price point outlined in the bill.
HB 2123 creates the Pharmacy Choice Commission under the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID). Currently, the insurance commissioner has the authority to investigate pharmacy benefit managers. Still, this bill transfers that power to the Pharmacy Choice Commission, which will also start reviewing complaints, initiation prosecution, and requiring restitution from pharmacy benefits managers who have violated the law. On behalf of the Pharmacy Choice Commission, the insurance commissioner is authorized to employ actuaries, statisticians, accountants, and attorneys, as the commission deems necessary for any examinations or investigations. The commission will continue conducting examinations and investigations of insurance matters within the scope of its authority.
HB 2124 empowers the Pharmacy Choice Commission of the Oklahoma Insurance Department to license pharmacy benefits managers.
In case you missed the announcement last week, Gov. Stitt issued an executive order lifting all statewide COVID-19 restrictions on events and Oklahomans. It also removes the mask requirement for state government buildings. House and Senate Leadership are looking into mask protocols at the Capitol and said they will lift the requirement when they feel it is safe for those working and visiting the building.
This week was fairly slow as House bills were still being assigned to Senate committees. While I directed all proceedings on the Senate floor this past Tuesday, I had numerous meetings to attend too. My week's highlight was attending the Oklahoma Youth Expo Legislative Showmanship Competition on Tuesday evening. I teamed up with Jared Stone, a senior at Chandler High School and a Chandler FFA student, to show his lamb named Toaster Face. This incredible program helps provide scholarships for Oklahoma’s youth in 4-H and FFA interested in farming and ranching careers. Congratulations to all the participants and winners. I can’t wait for next year’s event.
In closing, please mark your calendars for our upcoming legislative breakfast. It will be Friday, April 9, at the Route 66 Interpretive Center (400 E 1st St, Chandler, OK 74834) from 8-9 a.m.
To contact 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 email@example.com or call (405) 521-5547.