Capitol Week In Review: Lawmakers Pass Several Controversial Bills

Friday, February 17th 2017, 6:01 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

A busy week at the state capitol with lawmakers passing several controversial bills, a state representative making national news for how he described pregnant women, and the lieutenant governor splitting with the governor over tax increases. 

A House committee passed two controversial abortion bills, including one that requires the father to have a say in whether an abortion is performed. The bill’s author, Representative Justin Humphry (R) District 19, said pregnant women are merely a host for the fetus. He later explained, he can’t come up with a better description.

“But I’ve not continued to use that out of respect to the people who have said they don’t like it,” said Humphrey.

A Senate committee passed six bills that would offer teachers raises; everything from five-hundred dollars per year to 10-thousand dollars.

“Even though they all can’t become law I think it’s really important to keep the conversation going,” said Senator David Holt (R) District 30.

A House committee passed a bill that would raise taxes on cigarettes by a $1.50 a pack.

“The healthcare system that is in crisis in the state of Oklahoma” Representative Scott Inman (D) Minority Leader said, opposing the bill. 

Bill author, Representative Leslie Osborn (R) District 47 replied, “Leader Inman I’m not interested in playing games. I’m not interested in being partisan.”

The state House of Representatives passed a bill to make the Oklahoma drivers licenses compliant with federal REAL ID requirements.

“Something I’m very very happy to say we’re getting done. Getting done a little bit quicker than I anticipated,” said Senator Mike Schulz (R) President Pro Tempore.

Also, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb quit the governor’s cabinet, frustrated with her plan to implement more than 160-new taxes.

“There’s still opportunities to streamline and to conserve taxpayer money,” said Lamb.

The governor’s office later released a statement that said, in part, “I was disappointed and surprised to learn from a press release that Lt. Gov. Lamb had decided to quit serving as a member of my cabinet. I have always valued Todd’s independent voice. I valued it when we first came into office when we dealt with a similar financial crisis and I value his independent voice today. I’ve never been afraid to have dissenting voices at the table. I think the people of Oklahoma benefit from that. There will always be a seat at the table for his independent voice.”

Little was done, though, to bridge the state’s estimated $868-million dollar budget deficit. 

“It’s very early in the process. There’s still a lot of discussion,” said Representative Charles McCall (R) Speaker of the House.

He continued, “There’s nothing being pulled off the table in terms of discussion.”