By the time this post gets published, Oklahoma lawmakers will have, by law, exactly 16 hours and 59 minutes to wrap up any and all remaining work for the second session of the 55th Legislature.
Of course, questions surrounding budget proposals and funding cuts amid the ongoing revenue shortfall have dominated Capitol coverage this week. Below, NonDoc recaps the details of some newsworthy legislation from the week that may have gone overlooked in the shadow of the looming budget crisis.
FTW: Alcohol modernization
With the 64-30 passage of SJR 68 Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma inches closer to joining most of the rest of the free world in having the liberty to purchase wine and strong beer at places other than liquor stores. Come November, voters will have the final say to approve the measure, but even then the bulk of the bill’s provisions would not take effect until October 2018.
Meanwhile, the House passed SB 424 by a vote of 69-20. SB 424, which was actually introduced in January 2015, would allow craft brewers to sell strong beer (above 4 percent alcohol by volume) that they produce to consumers on brewery premises and during liquor store hours. Currently, breweries can only sell low-point (4 percent ABV or lower) at their breweries and give samples of up to 12 ounces total of stronger beers.
“We’re pretty thrilled,” OKC-based Anthem Brewing Company’s Patrick Lively said via phone call Thursday. Lively also serves as vice-president for the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma. “It really just eliminates confusion. We look forward to having more consistency.”
Likewise, Prairie Artisan Ale’s events coordinator Micki Bell expressed relief and happiness for the bill’s passage after two years in the making.
“Today’s a big day in beer for us,” she said Thursday, also via phone.
The two Senate bills now await the governor’s signature.
WTF: Bathroom bluster
On Tuesday, SB 1619, aka the transgender bathroom bill, died in committee, stymied with a vote of 10-10. Notably, House Speaker-designate Rep. Charles McCall (R-Atoka) voted YEA for the bathroom bill.
McCall’s speakership is pending a GOP caucus vote after November’s election, and the banker and former mayor of Atoka won’t be term-limited until 2025, as reported by KGOU. GOP caucus rules reportedly limit any member to being speaker for only four years.
Also on Wednesday, no less than 19 House members and two Senators signed on as co-authors to introduce HCR 1021, which basically supports any action AG Scott Pruitt’s office would take in fighting Title IX application of federal guidance released earlier this month regarding the provision of facilities for gender-fluid students. It also tells the feds to get stuffed and mind their own business, insisting that the policies regarding gender identity fall within local districts’ control and overall states’ rights.
It might suffer the same go-nowhere fate of SCR 43, which NonDoc’s EIC wrote about Thursday.
Legislative tidbits awaiting Fallin’s signature
- HB 3168: allows for the issuance of up to $125 million in bonds to continue repair and restoration of the state Capitol
- HB 2763: creates the Revenue Stabilization Fund, which intends to prevent future budget shortfalls like the current one
- HB 2398: closes the loophole in sodomy laws
(Correction: This post was updated to clarify which alcohol modernization measures need to be signed by the governor.)