Despite the winter weather that has gripped much of Oklahoma this week, legislators continued to meet at the State Capitol to address many of the issues facing our constituents.
This week was our first full week of committee meetings, so lawmakers had a busy week voting on bills in each of the four committees that we serve on in addition to advocating for our own personal bills in other committees.
Each member can have only eight bills assigned to committees. With the support of my colleagues, I was able to pass seven of my eight bills through committee this week! The goal is to pass all eight bills through committee so they can be heard on the House floor, and my final bill is scheduled to be heard next week in committee.
One of my bills I passed through the House Public Safety was House Bill 1059, which would help the Dept. of Public Safety address the significant backlog that has built up. This backlog is a result of the challenges brought by COVID-19 and the implementation of Real IDs.
The legislation authorizes local tag agencies to issue commercial driver’s licenses renewals, replacements, change of addresses and downgrades for Class A, B and C licenses. Currently, DPS must process all of these requests.
The bill would also allow tag agents to issue an ID card even if the driver’s license is expired or suspended, as long as the person requesting the ID has an existing Oklahoma driver’s license file. Currently, the person requesting the ID must have a valid unexpired license to receive an ID card from a tag agent. HB1059 would allow third party examiners to test anyone with a commercial driver’s license permit. Currently, third party examiners are only allowed to administer driver’s tests to their own students.
These changes would make the process more efficient for Oklahomans and reduce the large backlog and waiting times at the Dept. of Public Safety.
In response to a letter sent by a bipartisan group of over 40 House members, the Governor signed an executive order that would allow for many of the same provisions that my bill accomplishes. However, it is still important to pass these changes through HB1059 so we can put these actions into statute for the future and prevent another months-long backlog at DPS.
The Governor also signed an executive order this week to support Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry against the federal overreach of the new presidential administration’s anti-oil and gas policies. I was proud to join Governor Stitt when signing the Executive Order as he supported our state’s oil and gas industry, which provides thousands of well-paid jobs across the state and whose taxes are critical to our local schools, counties and state budgets.
It is truly an honor and privilege to continue to serve as your state representative. We will be voting on many bills over the next 16 weeks so please feel free to contact me to discuss any policies that you strongly support or have concerns with. God bless!