Legislative Week-In-Review: Record Spending Plan, Last-Minute Drama

Friday, May 24th 2019, 11:31 pm

Lawmakers wrapped up the Oklahoma legislative session early with an agreement on a record-spending plan.  But some last-minute drama had them scrambling. 

Legislators finished up the session by debating the last of more than 2,000 bills.  Among the issues tackled this week, whether municipalities can restrict where medical marijuana dispensaries can set up.

“What is the recourse for a business if they feel like they’re unfairly treated under those zoning laws?” Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City) asked.

Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle) replied, “It will be the same recourse you’d have for any business or any individual that they feel is unfairly or unlawfully treating them.”

An investigation into two state representatives accused of sexual misconduct involving a former representative, is complete with the investigator unable to substantiate the claims.

“We knew from the very beginning it was false allegations.” Said Representative Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) who was accused of the misconduct.

On Thursday, the State Senate initially refused to hear a criminal justice reform bill that would have made lowering the penalties for certain non-violent crimes retroactive potentially releasing hundreds of prisoners.

“I’m a little bit concerned about in that (Department of Corrections') data is terrible, and we haven’t improved that yet. So we are going to be making some decisions on real human lives.” said Sen. Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) President Pro Tempore.

In the end, the Senate caved to the pressure and passed the bill. 

And on Friday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the $8.1 billion state budget into law, increasing spending for education by $200 million and giving teachers, state workers and corrections employees raises. It also puts $200 million aside into a savings account.

“The fact that we were able to save $200 million and really set up and secure the future of Oklahoma without having to raise taxes or cut core services was an initiative that I set out in the very beginning. So I’m excited that we got that done," Stitt said.

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