Whatzup Politics (1477)
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that could significantly lower the need for emergency certified teachers in public elementary schools and early childhood education programs passed unanimously in the House on Thursday with a vote of 86-0.
House Bill 2748, by Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, would allow a teacher candidate that holds a doctorate, a master’s or a bachelor’s degree to teach for two years while completing required coursework and participating in a mentor program provided by the school district prior to taking state certification exams.
“School administrators statewide have told lawmakers of challenges to find certified teachers in our earliest grades where learning the basics is of critical importance,” Baker said. “This measure allows them to employee degreed candidates who are well on their way to earning a traditional teaching certificate. This is better for our students and our schools.”
Baker said the measure was agreed upon by the state Department of Education, Oklahoma Teacher Preparation, Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education, the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Oklahoma Educators Association.
Now that the bill has passed the House, it advances to the state Senate.
Rhonda Baker serves District 60 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Caddo and Canadian counties.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to protect businesses from being attacked by ransomware has unanimously passed the House Judiciary-Criminal committee with a vote of 8-0.
House Bill 1759, authored by Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater, updates language in the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act to better reflect modern technology and subsequent threats to computer security through updated definitions and penalties.
“This is just one of the ways Oklahoma needs to adapt to the technology age we live in,” Ranson said. “One of the key responsibilities of government is to protect the free market, which includes protection from modern threats that didn’t exist 20 years ago.”
Cybercrime, such as ransomware where criminals deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid, is a significant and ever-evolving threat to personal, business, nonprofit, and government entities and results in thousands to millions of dollars of loss.
“I have been working with several cyber-security experts on this legislation and am pleased to see it passed unanimously through committee.,” said Ranson. “By updating our statutes to include threats like this, our law enforcement can better charge those who exploit others by technological means.”
Ranson hopes Oklahomans in favor of protecting businesses and non-profits from ransomware attacks will reach out to their local legislator in support of HB1759.
Ranson’s office can be reached at (405)557-7411 or email@example.com.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to help address Oklahoma’s looming eviction crisis unanimously passed the House Appropriation & Budget Committee on Thursday with a vote of 23-0.
House Bill 1950, authored by Rep. José Cruz, D-OKC, provides landlords with a 100% tax credit for rental loss. The credit has a cap of $1,250 per taxpayer per year. It is retroactive for 2020 but would need to be renewed by the Legislature beyond 2022. Additionally, the property owner must show that the missed revenue claimed did not result in the eviction of a tenant.
“The pandemic has added financial burdens to landlords whose tenants have lost income,” Cruz said. “This credit doesn’t fix the problem, but it does provide some relief to property owners in a way that is also beneficial to the tenant.”
To ensure the credit doesn’t grow unmanageable, there is a 4,000 claimant cap on the legislation.
“This tax credit is a small thank you for looking out for Oklahoma families,” Cruz said. “Landlords have received the least assistance and many are average Oklahomans trying to make ends meet. This won’t make them whole, but it does offer some assistance.”
Cruz’s office can be reached at (405)557-7397 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation requiring new or renovated hotels and motels to post tornado safety information in every room and common areas passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.
Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, who authored House Bill 1748, said the policy was suggested to her by a constituent who, while staying in another part of the state, was not able to find information about safety procedures while the county was under a tornado warning.
“This legislation is a prime example of a constituent realizing an issue, bringing it to their legislator and working together to propose a solution,” Crosswhite Hader said. “In inclement weather situations where every minute makes a difference, House Bill 1748 will help keep traveling Oklahomans and visitors to our state safe and out of harm’s way.”
The tornado safety information, provided by the State Board of Health, would include the county, the hotel’s location on a state map, recommended safety precautions, and the day and time of local tornado siren testing.
The Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association has expressed their support of the bill.
HB 1748 is a refiled bill from the 57th Legislature, House Bill 3016, which passed the House unanimously in 2020 but was stalled when the legislative session was paused due to the pandemic.
HB 1748 passed the House 79-2. It now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where it is authored by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.
Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, a Republican, represents House District 41 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes portions of Garfield, Kingfisher, Canadian and Oklahoma counties.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would reform the school funding formula, ensuring funding follows the student, passed with a vote of 25-7 in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee today.
“This bill is as common sense as it gets. The money goes where the student goes,” said Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. “It makes school funding work how it should and how most Oklahomans believe it already does: With money following students.”
House Bill 2078, authored by Hilbert, revises the school funding formula to curb the number of non-existing – or ghost – students currently allowed in the system.
“Oklahoma will spend nearly $200 million on over 55,000 students that do not exist in the current academic year because of the way our school funding formula is structured,” Hilbert said. “Students are being double or triple counted as they move between districts because schools are allowed to use whichever count is highest from the past three years.”
Hilbert explained that if a student moves from District A, which uses the 2018-19 average daily membership (ADM) count, to District B, which uses the 2019-20 count, and then to District C, which uses the 2020-21 count, they could be triple counted.
The bill gives school districts greater flexibility over how much they are allowed to carry forward from one fiscal year to the next. The measure would allow districts to waive carry forward limits altogether for two years and then increase the carry forward cap by 20% for all districts moving forward. This gives school districts greater control over their own financial stability instead of depending upon the state funding formula for it.
“As a result of distributing state aid based on high counts from a three-year period, schools can receive continued funding for students who transferred to other districts, graduated or even moved out of state,” Hilbert said. “And with COVID-19, a number of students moved to virtual charter schools. As these students return to brick-and-mortar schools, the virtual charters will still be able to continue to receive funding for students they no longer serve if this issue is not addressed in state statute.”
HB 2078 now is eligible to be considered by the House.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would protect the privacy of teachers, police officers and other public employees passed unanimously in the House today with a vote of 82-0.
House Bill 1876, authored by Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City, would keep private the home addresses, home telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, private email addresses and private mobile phone numbers of current and former public employees.
“This information is being harvested and used in ways that harm our public employees,” West said. “In this year of unrest, our police officers’ personal information has been sought by groups that seek their harm. In other instances, our public school teachers are being targeted by groups that seek to market unsolicited material to them.”
West said she received input on this measure from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, the State Department of Education and the Oklahoma Press Association, which has an interest in open records. All support this change, and it has the blessing of law enforcement and teachers as well.
West ran a similar bill last year, which passed the House unanimously, but it was sidelined by COVID.
HB 1876 clarifies and extends an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Under the measure, the personal information mentioned above would not be open to public inspection or disclosure.
With House passage, the bill now advances to the state Senate for consideration.
Tammy West serves District 84 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of Oklahoma County.
Mullin Highlights Edge Providers Impact on Consumer Cost in House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing
WASHINGTON— Today, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) participated in an Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on broadband challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Mullin highlighted the need for an FCC study on the impact of big streamers like Google, Netflix and Amazon have on rural broadband networks, getting service to unserved communities, and consumer costs.
“We have been talking about broadband in rural parts, I just want to point out, I live it every day”, said Mullin. “Less than 50% of my district has broadband coverage...I have 6 kids around our kitchen table upstairs doing homework as we speak. It wasn’t until December of last year that our electric coop actually brought us broadband down here.”
“We have an issue in the rural parts of our country...we have companies like Netflix and Amazon that pay nothing to livestream their videos. [Many rural broadband providers] cannot keep up with the livestream demand from Netflix and Amazon that pay nothing to deliver their services to customers' homes, yet customers are left having to pay for it,” Mullin continued.
Full video of Mullin’s remarks can be found here
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to expand protections for victims of violence passed the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on Wednesday with a vote of 8-0.
House Bill 1948, authored by Rep. José Cruz, D-OKC, expands the definition of family or household member used in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and the Domestic Abuse Reporting Act to include persons not otherwise related by blood or marriage.
The change is an effort to extend protections to victims of abuse beyond family members.
“The law as it is written is too narrow to meet the standards Oklahomans have when it comes to protecting victims of violence,” Cruz said. “It’s necessary common-sense legislation that’s overdue to protect all victims.”
The legislation enjoyed bipartisan support in committee and is now available to be heard on the House floor.
“When it comes to protecting Oklahomans, especially victims of abuse, there are no politics,” Cruz said. “I appreciate this committee for supporting this legislation, and I look forward to earning the vote of my colleagues on the House floor.”
Cruz’s office can be reached at (405)557-7397 or email@example.com.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to provide de-escalation training to public school educators and staff passed the House Common Education Committee on Tuesday with a vote of 13-0.
House Bill 1027, authored by Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater, requires the State Boards of Education and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in collaboration with school district superintendents, to develop and offer training for school employees on violence de-escalation.
The training could include information about trauma-informed teaching, self-regulation practices for students and staff, and trauma-informed response protocols for addressing behavior with more productive approaches.
“Violence de-escalation training offers a proactive approach for teachers to make connections with students, as well as helping staff to identify and address symptomatic behaviors of trauma,” said Ranson. “This training goes beyond trauma-aware and helps districts develop trauma-informed strategies.”
This legislation came from a series of conversations with educators, parents, and education policymakers seeking to address the needs of students suffering from childhood trauma.
“Our kids deal with a lot,” Ranson said. “Not only at school but at home as well. It is important our staff knows how to respond in a way that is most positive for everyone involved.”
HB1027 is now available to be heard on the House floor. Ranson asks Oklahomans in support of de-escalation training in public schools to contact their area legislator in support of this legislation.
Ranson’s office can be reached at (405)557-7411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, on Tuesday secured committee passage of a bill that would eliminate age restrictions for future civil actions against individuals based on childhood sexual abuse incidents or exploitation.
House Bill 1002 would remove from state law the restriction that a victim of child sexual abuse or exploitation, suffered before they were 18, must bring any action for recovery of damages to the courts by their 45th birthday.
“Sometimes it takes years of counseling and healing before a victim of a child sex crime is able to come forward and face their abuser,” Bush said. “They should not be limited in seeking justice. This statute would allow victims the time they need and would send a strong message to abusers that they can’t outrun their crimes.”
HB 1002 also would allow a five-year window, beginning Nov. 1, 2021, for the filing of retroactive claims for childhood sexual abuse for those persons who were previously barred from filing due to the age limitation. It also would expand from two years to 30 the commencement of any action for recovery of damages from a for-profit or nonprofit organization or other entity that participated either willingly or negligently in the abuse or exploitation.
“Oftentimes, the perpetrator will be insolvent or with limited assets, and while holding the perpetrator liable for life makes sense from an accountability standpoint, it doesn't always mean it will make sense in compensating the victim,” Bush said. “We must also be able to hold the perpetrator’s employer or institution responsible when they allowed the abuse.”
Changes in statute were first requested by one of Bush’s constituents. The woman’s father molested her daily beginning at the age of six. The victim didn’t come to terms with the crime until she was approaching 40, but by then was barred from action because of the statute of limitations.
Bush ran legislation addressing the issue in 2017, after she was first elected to the House. She was able to amend statute giving victims until their 45th birthday to pursue damages. HB 1002 would remove the age limit altogether.
Bush explained that sometimes a victim of child sexual abuse can bury the trauma in their minds until they are emotionally mature enough to address it. This often doesn’t happen until a person reaches their 30s or 40s or later. CHILD USA, a national nonprofit focused on ending child abuse and neglect, reports that of child sexual abuse survivors that do disclose, on average, they don’t disclose until they are 52 years old. Victims then have a challenge of proving the abuse happened and financing a sometimes years-long legal battle.
Several states have already eliminated the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children in recent years, including Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Hawaii and Massachusetts. The state of New York created a window until August 2020 to give victims the opportunity to pursue prosecution. Bush said she crafted the language of HB 1002 to address challenges against some of the state law changes.
HB 1002 is similar to House Bill 3024, which Bush filed last year and which passed the House Judiciary Committee. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered government for about six weeks last spring, the bill did not make it through the legislative process.
HB 1002 passed the House Judiciary-Civil Committee with a vote of 9-0. It now is eligible to be considered by the entire House.
Carol Bush represents District 70 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Tulsa County.