As a potential May 27 adjournment approaches for the second regular session of Oklahoma’s 55th Legislature, bill activity has slowed as everyone waits for a budget agreement.
At the same time, the work accomplished thus far has resulted in progress: By Thursday’s end, Gov. Mary Fallin had signed 30 bills into law.
All that to say this: While lawmakers have completed some of the heavy lifting for this session, much work remains.
FTW: Autism coverage becomes a reality
As The Tulsa World editorial board put it, “better late than never.”
NonDoc has covered HB 2962‘s progress in a previous post, and the bill received Fallin’s signature Wednesday. As screenings, diagnoses and treatment of autism spectrum disorder for children under 9 years old now becomes a reality, Oklahoma can shed the dubious distinction of being one of only seven other states that lack mandatory insurance coverage for the treatment of autistic children.
FTW: Reforms approved for balancing budget
To continue the use of clichés begun by TW editors: You gotta start somewhere.
During the fourth meeting of the Senate’s Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) on Thursday, no less than seven reform measures were approved, each with an eye toward filling the state’s $1.3 billion revenue shortfall.
In a vote of 13 to 7, the JCAB also approved SB 1578, which eliminates the state’s tax credits for the construction of energy efficient homes. Although this measure would not have an impact for fiscal year 2017 if adopted, it would remove an incentive for “green” construction given that the items for which tax credits may be earned usually carry a substantial up-front cost compared to standard materials and appliances.
Collectively, the measures seek to generate an estimated $190.4 million in additional funds, but it’s really only two measures that create the lion’s share (84.4 percent) of that figure, with HB 3206 alone accounting for 65.6 percent of the gain ($125 million). It creates a mechanism by which, in December, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services can transfer and appropriate money remaining in the Cash Flow Reserve Fund.
FTW: Catfishing Liability Act of 2016
In line with SB 1257, which creates penalties for posting revenge porn online, HB 3024 creates the Catfishing Liability Act of 2016. Under the bill, internet catfishing is defined as, “Knowingly using another’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness through social media to create false identities without consent.” It’s basically online impersonation, and plaintiffs who fall for the digital ruse may seek actual damages, punitive damages up to $500, and the reimbursement of attorney’s fees.