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.

WTF sidebar

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.

In its fourth reading Thursday, SB 1257 passed the House 74 to 3, with Reps. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC), Shane Stone (D-OKC) and Cory Williams (D-Stillwater) voting against.

Previous coverage of 23rd and Lincoln

March 4: This week in WTF: HB 2665 and HB 2797

March 11: WTF v. FTW: Church-state debate and criminal-justice reform

April 8: WTF v. FTW: Modernization meets reality

April 15: WTF v. FTW: Cops could soon scan license plates

April 22: This week in FTW: Lawmakers haze frosh Sen. Dossett

April 29: WTF v. FTW: Of sodomy law and civil asset forfeiture