Capitol Considerations by Senator Bill Coleman-Ponca City

Senator Bill Coleman - April 3, 2022 2:33 pm

Senator Bill Coleman-Ponca City

Following the house of origin deadline on March 24, any Senate bills that weren’t heard or were voted down in our chamber are done for this session. However, those bills that made it out of the Senate are officially halfway through the legislative process. They’ll now have to go through the committee process and floor votes in the House in order to get to the governor’s desk. In turn, our attention is now focused on the House legislation being assigned to our Senate Committees.

I have around a dozen House bills I’m serving as the principal Senate author for that are now awaiting consideration in our chamber. Two of my House bills were approved in committee this week. House Bill 3135 would modify the definition of eligible offender under the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Act to include those charged with misdemeanors, like simple drug possession, rather than just those with felony convictions. This change is necessary due to the recent criminal justice reforms approved by voters that made drug possession a misdemeanor. Most of these individuals suffer from addiction, and community sentencing has been proven to be a better way to help rehabilitate these types of offenders rather than traditional incarceration. These aren’t dangerous or violent offenders, so allowing them early release to serve their sentence at home gives them the ability to return to the workforce to support themselves and their families while also getting the treatment they need for their addiction.

In recent years, the Legislature has worked to get state agencies to use state companies for services and products, and HB 3484 is part of that. The bill would require state agencies accepting a service contract, whether bid or no bid, to list the city, state, and country in which the services will be provided. For any state contract not strictly awarded by the lowest price and going to a company not preparing or producing the services in Oklahoma, the agency’s director would have to provide an explanation why.

After years of construction and more recently, COVID-19 restrictions, things are getting back to normal at the Capitol. While the building has been open to guests for some time, there has still been several ongoing renovation projects. One major project that recently wrapped up was the Oklahoma State Capitol Museum, which is a 4,400 square foot exhibit featuring important documents and items from major moments in our state’s history. Among the artifacts is the quill used by President Theodore Roosevelt to sign Oklahoma’s Statehood Proclamation in 1907. This is a beautiful addition to the newly renovated building, and I hope everyone gets to come see it for themselves.

Another exciting development was we had our first entourage welcomed to the Senate floor in over two years. Besides passing legislation in our chamber, we also present various resolutions and citations, recognizing and celebrating outstanding Oklahomans. On Wednesday, we recognized soon-to-be 100-year-old Janet Jo Jefferis McMeans Tompkins, who is a true Oklahoma and American treasure. She enlisted in the Naval Reserves in 1943 and was accepted in the Women’s Reserve, U.S. Naval Reserve, Apprentice Seamen, Class V-9. She quickly learned about airplanes, boats, Morse Code, and flag signaling, before getting assigned to the Communications Intelligence Subdivision in the Washington, D.C. Office of Naval Communications. Janet Jo was promoted to Lieutenant on July 1, 1945, was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation in 1946, and by the end of the war had also received the World War II Victory Ribbon, American Theatre Ribbon, and American Campaign Medal. She was honorably discharged in June 1946 and served in the Naval Reserves until March 1951. What a tremendous honor it was to meet this incredible patriot.

You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected].

 

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