LEGISLATORS DISCUSS GOV. APPOINTING POWER, TEACHER MATERNITY LEAVE

News 9 - May 9, 2023 6:34 am

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At the Capitol, we’re nearing the end of this legislative session with hundreds of bills still alive between the House and Senate. Over the last few weeks, the House and Senate have been amending bills as they near final passage.

Monday, the House rejected Senate amendments to over two dozen house bills and will now head to a conference committee to discuss the future of the legislation.

Among the bills that will be further discussed in conference committees are a bill dealing with the governor’s appointment power, and paid maternity leave for teachers.

One of the most highly debated topics this session has been paid maternity leave for teachers. The Senate recently gutted a House bill and replaced the language with their original plan to give teachers eight weeks of paid maternity leave.

Those amendments were rejected on the House floor. The author of the original bill, Rep. Dick Lowe, says he is not against the idea of paid maternity leave at all, but wants to leave that bill up to negotiations that are currently going on.

“The education negotiations are going on around this budget, we don’t want to take any one piece of their negotiations in or out,” said Rep. Dick Lowe (R-Amber).

Representative Lowe says he wants to move forward with the original bill as he wrote it. Originally written, it gives students at alternative or charter schools more flexibility if they have to miss classes for an emergency.

Representative Lowe explained that under current law, if a student missed 15 or more days, they would be kicked out of the program.

“This was really important because if we have maybe a young mother who had a baby and was gone for several days they would just be out of the program- we need them in the program,” said Rep. Lowe. “Would help us out to get some students who are really trying to get their education and get them into the workforce.”

That bill will now head to a conference committee where legislators will continue discussing the logistics of the legislation.

Another bill that had rejected Senate amendments Monday dealt with taking appointment power away from the governor and spreading it out through the legislature.

“I emphatically move to reject Senate amendments to House Bill 1080 and request a conference,” said Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon).

That bill will change the appointment process to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission amidst ongoing problems on the board. Currently, Governor Stitt holds most of the appointment power. This bill would spread the power between the governor, House and Senate.

The author of the bill, Rep. Jay Steagall, says the way the Senate amended the bill was too big of a change to his original language, and “erases the work they’ve put in over the last few months.”

“What we got back from the Senate was not agreed upon language,” said Rep. Steagall.

That bill will also go to a conference committee.

There are only three weeks left in this year’s legislative session, and Rep. Lowe says the amendments and negotiations are all part of the process to push through final legislation.

“The process does work. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but the process does work,” said Rep. Lowe.

 

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