Now that the committee deadline has passed, the countdown for bills to be passed out of their chamber of origin is quickly approaching. We started the session with more than 1,300 house bills filed. Fewer than 500 survived the committee process. As we continue through the process we are trying to pass fewer and better considered laws.
Because this is the second session of the 57th legislature, we also can consider legislation still active from last year – 859 measures in the House. A number of those are still active as well.
This past week, we considered 174 measures in the House; 172 of those passed and will be sent to the Senate for consideration. With the deadline looming, we’ll hear an equal number of bills this week if not more.
Here is a look at a few of the measures that passed last week that could have an impact in our House district.
House Bill 3111 would increase tourism in cities across the state that are not directly located along Route 66. Through the Tourism Ignition Program, a qualifying municipality could apply for a grant of up to $5,000 toward the creation of a site or landmark intended to generate a positive economic impact. Municipalities could consider developing a new statue, structure or mural to increase its tourism draw and the revenue that comes with it. The measure was supported by Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who pointed out that the return on investment that tourism has in Oklahoma is a proven success. He said municipalities willing to invest in local attractions should be supported by the state to ensure their success. The program would sunset two years after implementation to give the Legislature the opportunity to evaluate its success and to consider whether it should continue.
House Bill 3298 authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority (OCIA) to bond $17.5 million and make use of a 65% federal match of $50 million to acquire property and invest capital into improving and repairing some of the high-risk flood-control dams across our state. Many of these dams are more than 50 years old and have reached their life expectancy. Repairing these dams will help protect the homes and cities that lie beneath these structures, many of which supply water to surrounding communities.
Other measures that passed this week include one that will add the words In God We Trust to state buildings. This is our national motto and already is on federal buildings. A majority of residents in Oklahoma are happy to support our nation’s heritage and honor God for the blessings He has bestowed.
Another bill will grant a tax exemption for hearing aids purchased from a licensed audiologist, hearing aid dealer or fitter. This will benefit our senior citizens, many of whom have some form of hearing loss. It also will benefit those in our deaf or hearing-impaired community. Oklahoma is one of only a few states that don’t already offer this tax exemption.
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