The Oklahoma Legislature had a major deadline on Thursday as we finished hearing bills and resolutions in the chamber of origin.
We spent several very long days on the House floor over the last two weeks to consider as many bills as possible before the deadline. In addition to the many hours spent off the floor working with staff and other representatives to ensure our bills are prepared to be heard, we spent over 34 hours on the House floor between Monday afternoon and Thursday evening this week to hear, debate and vote on bills.
On Tuesday evening, we suspended House rules to allow us to continue to work after midnight, which was a legislative first for myself and many of my colleagues.
Among the many bills we heard this week were several tax relief bills to aid individuals and businesses suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic.
House Bill 2041 reduces the personal income tax by 0.25% through a credit, which results in tax reductions for all income levels.
House Bill 2083 gradually reduces the state’s outdated corporate income tax, which is currently set at 6%. Over the next five years, a deduction would be used to reduce the effective rate by 20% a year until it is fully phased out in 2026.
These bills are designed to grow the economy, recruit new businesses, spur spending after the pandemic and grow state revenues. I was proud to vote in favor of both these historic bills on Thursday afternoon.
We also approved two pro-life bills this week as well to uphold the God-given right to life for our most vulnerable Oklahomans.
House Bill 1102 would require the Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to revoke the licenses of physicians who perform abortions for at least one year. The bill provides an exception for abortions performed to save the life of the mother.
House Bill 2441 would prohibit abortions from being performed once the unborn child is determined to have a detectable heartbeat. A heartbeat is proof that the child is alive and therefore deserves all protections granted to any other living person.
Every life is precious and has intrinsic value in the eyes of God. I was very glad both bills passed the House and will soon be taken up by the Senate!
A person’s quality of life matters at all ages, and this week the House passed a bill to protect the rights of long-term care residents by allowing them visits by friends and family members.
House Bill 2566 ensures visitation and health care services contracted through the long-term care facilities are provided in a safe manner in accordance with Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Guidelines.
Unfortunately, many residents of long-term care facilities have gone a year without seeing their loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This level of intense isolation can seriously impair a person’s mental health, and I was glad to see this bill pass the House.
The House also overwhelmingly approved legislation to cap the cost of insulin for many Oklahomans with Type 1 diabetes.
House Bill 1019 would cap the amount of copayment an individual would be required to pay at $90 for a 90-day supply. Currently, an individual’s copay is based on their own insurance plan, but the cost of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years even for individuals with insurance.
This has caused many Oklahomans to ration their insulin supply below their recommended amount. Thousands of Oklahomans have Type 1 diabetes, and those with either form of diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes.
Now that we’ve completed this deadline, we’ll take a short break next week to give legislative staffers time to transfer bills between the House and Senate chambers and prepare to begin considering those bills. We’ll start hearing Senate bills in House committee the week of March 22.
I’ll share more details about the Senate bills I’m authoring as their committee presentations draw closer, but in the meantime, please feel free to continue reaching out to me about legislation you have questions on or are passionate about. Thank you for allowing me to represent House District 51. God bless!