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Several Bills Become Oklahoma Law

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NOTE: We receive news releases from the Oklahoma House of Representatives. As the legislative session nears completion this month, several measures have made it through the process and have been signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The bills’ authors are touting their successes. Below is a sampling of news releases about a variety of new laws.

Governor Signs Hardin Poultry Nutrition Bill

May 12 – Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill to localize the promulgation of poultry feeding rules through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Forestry (ODAFF). House Bill 2983, authored by Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, puts rulemaking power into the hands of ODAFF rather than the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), a federal agency.

“We need Oklahoma solutions for Oklahoma issues, plain and simple,” Hardin said. “This bill allows ODAFF to create and apply the rules that poultry farmers must follow, and will bring the cost of nutrient management plans back to a reasonable rate for Oklahoma farmers.”

Specifically, HB 2983 modifies the best management practices for poultry feeding operations by requiring poultry waste applicators to meet standards set by administrative rules, rather than standards set by the USDA NRCS, and directs the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to promulgate the emergency rules.

“I would like to thank ODAFF, the Poultry Federation, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Grand River Dam Authority, Conservation Districts and others for coming together to support this legislation,” Hardin said. “This was truly a collaborative effort to address the needs of Oklahoma poultry farmers and HB 2983 helps provide stability and relief for them.”

HB 2983 had an emergency clause attached to it and went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Bill Creating Grant Program for County Sheriffs Signed by Governor

May 10 – Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, today celebrated the governor’s signing of House Bill 3530 which will create a grant program for county sheriffs to combat illegal marijuana activities in Oklahoma. The bill was authored in the Senate by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, and passed by wide margins in both chambers.

“OMMA compliance inspectors are being met with resistance at medical marijuana facilities across our state,” Hardin said. “They are just trying to do their jobs and make sure everything is done by the book, but they aren’t law enforcement officers. They don’t carry a weapon and are often met by people carrying firearms telling them to leave a property. This grant program will allow for one full-time deputy to be totally dedicated to assisting OMMA compliance inspectors.”

HB 3530 creates an annual grant program funded by $5 million from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) budget. The program would provide county sheriffs close to $65,000 for one year and would require one deputy to be assigned to assist OMMA compliance inspectors. County and law enforcement officials are praising the signing of the bill.

The bill comes after OMMA compliance inspectors were denied access to properties 181 times between April 2021 and Feb. 2022. This accounts for 9.6% of all inspections during that period.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has agreed to conduct drug training for deputies to ensure that they know what they should expect and need to do during compliance inspections. Hardin, who has a background in law enforcement and served as a sheriff, said this bill is about safety.

Legislation to Create Pathways to Employment Signed into Law

May 10 – House Bill 3002, by Sen. Zack Taylor and Rep. Cyndi Munson, was signed into law on Wednesday. It creates employment opportunities for Oklahomans recently released from state custody.

The new law amends the requirements and qualifications for five occupational licenses. The licensure changes involve the Oklahoma scrap metal dealers, the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, motor vehicle dealers, used motor vehicle dealers, and the Oklahoma Micropigmentation Regulation Act.

“Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is low, which is great. However, the pandemic decimated our workforce,” said Munson, D-OKC. “Removing unnecessary barriers to employment, especially those in high demand, can help our economy. This new law is a step in that direction.” 

The law maintains each licensing entity’s ability to consider criminal history. However, the entity must identify if the crime relates to the occupation and is a threat to public safety.

“It’s important that we streamline our occupational licensing requirements and allow all Oklahomans opportunities to succeed,” said Taylor, R-Seminole. “This measure will allow Oklahomans that have felonies on their records to have more employment opportunities but not at the risk of public safety. We included important safeguards to ensure the licensing board must take past crimes into consideration and make sure an applicant does not pose a public safety risk performing the job for which they’ve applied. This measure really opens the door for non-violent offenders and allows them to re-enter society and earn an honest living.”

Governor Signs Landlord-Tenant Repair & Deduct Update into Law

May 10 – The governor recently signed a bill into law that modifies the repair and deduct portion of the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

House Bill 3409 by Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa,  will allow a tenant to correct a condition that materially affects health and is remediable by repairs if the cost is equal to or less than one month’s rent and if the landlord has not made the repairs. The tenant could deduct the cost from rent owned. Previously, the cost could not exceed $100. 

Bush said the final version of the bill reflects agreed-upon language from the Tulsa nonprofit Housing Solutions, Tulsa Apartment Association, Apartment Association of Central Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Association of Realtors.

Bush examined this issue in an interim study held last fall before the House Judiciary-Civil Committee. The study revealed some startling gaps in the state’s landlord-tenant laws. This is the first of the changes recommended for tenants who are struggling and whose landlords have been unresponsive in making timely repairs.

Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, is the principal Senate author of the measure. HB3409 takes effect Nov. 1.  

Culver Celebrates Signing of Bill Related to Settlements Involving Minors

May 9 – Rep. Bob Ed Culver, R-Tahlequah, celebrated the signing of a bill that creates the Oklahoma Statutory Thresholds for Settlements Involving Minors Act of 2022. The bill, House Bill 3076, was signed into law last week by Governor Kevin Stitt.

“Any time minors are party to a settlement, we need to make sure they have the most fair representation possible,” Culver said. “This bill makes sure that minors get what is rightfully theirs and ensures that they aren’t taken advantage of during the process. I am proud to have authored this piece of legislation that protects our children and stands up for their rights in settlement cases.”

HB 3076 clarifies when a person with legal custody may enter into a settlement agreement on behalf of a minor, establishes how monies should be paid out and explains the duties of an attorney representing children in these cases.

Dysgraphia Information Coming to SDE Handbook

May 9 – Legislation to increase awareness of dysgraphia among teachers, parents and students has been signed into law. 

House Bill 2768, authored by Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, would require the dyslexia handbook task force to add information on dysgraphia to the State Dept. of Education’s Dyslexia Handbook. 

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that manifests in difficulties spelling, writing numbers or certain letters, or writing by hand. There are numerous techniques to help children with dysgraphia succeed in school, but it is commonly undiagnosed. 

Randleman, a psychologist with over 30 years’ experience, said adding information about dysgraphia to the dyslexia handbook would help educators recognize dysgraphia in their students and begin the process of addressing it. 

“When undiagnosed and untreated, learning disabilities like dysgraphia and dyslexia have an enormous effect on a child’s ability to succeed in school, which in turn affects their self-esteem,” Randleman said. “Unfortunately, dysgraphia often goes undetected due to a lack of awareness of the symptoms. I’m glad this change is coming to the dyslexia handbook so we can help thousands of Oklahoma students succeed academically.”

The bill was authored in the Senate by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman. 

“I think many people are familiar with dyslexia and how it makes it difficult for children to learn to read, but not many people are familiar with dysgraphia, which makes it difficult for children to write – both skills are critical for succeeding in school and throughout life,” Standridge said. “This new law will raise awareness, and help better assist children with dysgraphia to improve their writing ability.” HB2768 goes into effect Nov. 1. 

Governor Signs Energy Discrimination Elimination Act

May 1 – The governor on Monday signed into law a measure that would require the state to divest from any financial company that boycotts the energy industry.

House Bill 2034, the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act of 2022, is authored by Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore. Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, is the principal Senate author of the bill.

HB2034 requires the state treasurer to maintain and provide to each state governmental entity a list of financial companies that boycott energy companies. These entities must then notify the treasurer of the listed financial companies in which they own direct or indirect holdings.

The entity also must send a written notice to the financial company warning that it may become subject to divestment and offer the company the opportunity to clarify its activities. A state governmental entity must rid itself of at least 50% of the assets of a listed financial company within 180 days of the financial company receiving notice and 100% of the assets within 360 days after notice unless a loss of assets can be proven.  

Entities also must report to the treasurer, the Legislature and the state’s attorney general any securities sold, redeemed, divested, or withdrawn from a listed financial company. HB2034 takes effect Nov. 1.

Governor Signs Criminal Justice Reform Bills

May 9 – Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed two bills authored by Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, updating provisions of landmark criminal justice reform legislation passed last year.

House Bill 4352, authored by Hill and Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, exempts certain inmates from the requirement under the Sarah Stitt Act to complete resumes or practice job interviews prior to release from incarceration. The Sarah Stitt Act, which became law in 2021.

HB4352 exempts inmates 65 years of age or older, inmates released to medical parole or from the mental health unit, inmates released to another jurisdiction, inmates returning to community supervision from an intermediate revocation facility, and inmates deemed by the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections (DOC) to be physically or mentally unable to return to the workforce.

House Bill 4353, which is also authored in the Senate by Weaver, directs the Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) to allow the use of a certified copy of a birth certificate coupled with a DOC-issued consolidated record card to serve as a valid form of photo identification to obtain a Real ID Noncompliant Identification Card.

Both bills were signed on April 25 and go into effect Nov. 1.

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