Bills come, and bills go

Mike Seals - March 6, 2021 7:14 pm

By Sen. Bill Coleman

 

The legislative session is a curious and complex process. Last week, I told you how nearly 600 bills had been approved in committee. However, there were many double-assigned that had to go through their policy committee and then the Appropriations Committee. The winter storm and shutting down a few days put us behind, and even with extending the deadline, many of the bills remaining in Appropriations couldn’t be heard. Only around 550 of the originally nearly 1,070 bills filed made it through the committee process.

While we just passed the committee deadline, this coming week, we’ve got our second major deadline to hit and that’s to complete work on the bills that made it out of committee. As of Thursday afternoon, we had made it through approximately 160 of the bills on the Senate agenda. We’re going to have to work faster this coming week to get them all heard by the deadline.

I’m happy that most of my bills made it to the Senate floor. Ten have already been approved by the Senate and moved on to the House, and the other three (SB169, 269, and 958) will be taken up in the Senate this coming week.

The House is also working diligently to get through their bills before the upcoming deadline. So far, I’m serving as the principal House author on 22 House measures, but may be signing on to more. All of them have made it out of committee. Seven have already been sent over to the Senate for further consideration and the others will be heard in the coming week.

While I’ve talked about most of my bills, I’d like to mention a few more. SB 315 was approved by the Senate Thursday. It will allow distiller licensees to sell their products directly to their customers at fairs, trade shows, festivals and other events as well as in any of their other business locations. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that doesn’t already allow this. The bill requires that the products sold must have been sold to and shipped to Oklahoma licensed wine and spirits wholesalers and then made available for purchase by the Oklahoma licensed distiller.  These sales will be capped at 15,000 gallons per year. With the ever-growing number of distilleries in our state, this is a much-needed reform that will allow them to further grow their businesses and better share their products with the public. This in turn will be tremendously beneficial to our local economies and the state overall as we see an increase of excise and sales taxes.

SB 958 will be heard this coming week. It authorizes the board of directors for each fire protection district to acquire a certification to operate an emergency medical services agency from the Oklahoma State Department of Health or contract for services with a certified or licensed emergency medical service agency. This will help more communities have access to life-saving emergency services.

SB 257 authorizes the Oklahoma Arts Council to contract with other state agencies and/or non-profit organizations to create an irrevocable endowment to trade, sell, or barter donated and deaccessioned collection items that don’t conform to collection policies of the council. Proceeds from the sales may only be used for the acquisition, conservation, or care of collections that the council owns and controls. The Arts Council plays a vital role in recognizing Oklahoma’s many outstanding artists as well as protecting art in public places around the state. This will provide much-needed additional funding for this crucial agency.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and concerns on the bills that have made it through so far. Feel free to contact me any time by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]

 

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