Legislative Update With Senator Bill Coleman, Ponca City
Beverly Cantrell - February 18, 2022 1:18 pm
Senator Bill Coleman-Ponca City
Capitol Considerations by Senator Bill Coleman R-Ponca City, District 10
We kept the momentum going this week, hearing around 150 more bills in committee and more than 30 bills on the floor. I’m happy that four of mine were among those reported out of committee.
While I previously discussed Senate Bill 1262 to increase tourism advertising, SB 1339 deals with online tourism in regard to rental properties. It will standardize the way the state’s two largest online property rental companies pay the lodging tax to the State of Oklahoma, so local tourism bureaus get the revenue they need to operate.
My other two bills deal with alcoholic beverages, and specifically underage workers and mixed drinks distribution. SB 1784 lowers the allowed age to 18 for those who deliver beer and wine to bars and liquor stores as long as they are accompanied by a 21-year-old.
SB 1788 modifies Cocktails to Go, which passed last session, to allow those beverages, like wine or beer that already come in a sealed can or bottle, to be delivered in their original container as long as their seal isn’t broken. The way the law reads currently, business owners thought they had to pour these types of beverages into another sealed container.
Improving accountability and transparency has been an ongoing goal for the Legislature. One area that desperately needs an overhaul is our tag agency system. This became painfully obvious during the pandemic and throughout the Real ID debacle the last two years when citizens waited weeks and months to get their licenses. The problem for tag agencies was that they were short-staffed, had to cut hours and institute social distancing protocols due to COVID-19, then they were also hit with software issues that stopped work. It was a nightmare as people literally had to drive hours to other cities to get in line before the tag agencies opened in hopes of getting served.
This interim, I served on a working group to figure out how to modernize our tag agencies and the services they provide. We worked with tag agents from around the state to create a new model for how tag agencies will deliver services. During our work, we discovered there is no uniformity across tag agencies. They’re open different hours and provide different services depending on their ownership. This is not the best use of state resources and citizens deserve better. When you go to a McDonald’s, the menu is the same and the food always tastes the same. There aren’t different recipes at the different restaurants. This is how our tag agency system should be.
This session, legislation is moving forward to create Service Oklahoma under the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES). This new division would take on duties and responsibilities from the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Department of Public Safety regarding tag, licenses, and related services. This would allow all tag agents to receive the same training, have access to the same software and technology, and provide the same services. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m hopeful SB 1605 will get to the governor’s desk this session to ensure Oklahomans never have to deal with the horrible situation they faced at tag agencies the last two years.
To learn more about these and other Senate bills, please visit our website at www.oksenate.gov.
You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected].