This week was the first deadline week of the legislative session; a week when bills that aren’t heard in committees essentially die. It was also the first blow to the governor’s Soonercare 2.0 plan.
Lawmakers did not act on the governor’s plan to increase hospital fees by $75 million to try to draw in some $675 million in federal dollars and expand Medicaid to about 150,000 low income Oklahomans. Lawmakers felt the governor’s plan was short on details.
A bill to abolish abortion in Oklahoma appears to be dead. At least for now. Hundreds packed the capitol a couple of weeks ago pushing for an end to abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The bill wasn’t heard in committee though.
“So now I mean we’re going to keep pushing. The grassroots people we are still going to work,” said Senator Joseph Silk (R) Broken Bow.
A bill that would prevent Oklahoma communities from passing so-called “Red Flag” laws cleared its first hurdle. Red Flag laws allow authorities to temporarily remove guns from people who may present a danger to themselves or others.
“So that no local municipality ordinance or any other political subdivision would accept funds or work towards implementing their own form of a red flag law that would violate people’s rights to self-defense,” said Senator Nathan Dahm (R) Broken Arrow.
The state Senate passes a pair of bills to crack down on domestic violence. The two bills would increase penalties for strangulation during domestic abuse and strangling a pregnant woman.
“I think that it’s important that we look out for the victims and I think sometimes we’ve neglected to do that and so I think these two bills address that, address looking out for victims, making the punishment fit the crime, hopefully deterring but also protecting the victim,” said the bill’s author, Senator Rob Standridge (R) Norman.
And a bill that would have required the state to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants has died before it even made it to the floor for a vote.
“And I fully recognize by the way that there are plenty of you for ideological or other reasons don’t want to vote for this,”said Representative Forrest Bennett (R) Oklahoma City. “So, I just thought I’d give it a try.”
Negotiations will continue into next week over a funding mechanism for Soonercare 2.0. The governor hopes his plan will shoot down passage of state question 802, which would allow voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid.