Sunday, March 22, 2009

Legislative Session 09: Round Two

This week marks the first week in which the House will be considering bills that have already been approved by the Senate. It is my responsibility to be the House Author for four Senate bills.

Senate Bill 794 is authored by Senator Clark Jolly and is a request bill from the Peppers Ranch located just west of Guthrie. Peppers Ranch serves as a foster care provider for DHS and requested the bill in order to provide transparency and openness to the analysis of the state adoption process. It would require that DHS report the number of unsuccessful adoptions that take place each year. This could be used as a tool to analyze and correct issues related to the adoption process. I will be presenting SB 794 before the House Human Services committee this week.

Senate Bill 980 is authored by Senator Glenn Coffee. It calls for the creation of a CIO to oversee the state's IT functions. Each year, state government has been spending $340,577,938 of your tax dollars on IT and telecommunications. This does not count the salaries of the hundreds of state employees who are assigned to IT departments. These IT functions are spread out on an agency-by-agency basis, with each agency capable of creating their own IT empire. Millions of taxpayer dollars could be saved each year if duplicated processes were eliminated and new technology was used to maximize speed and space. SB 980 seeks to put an end to this type of inefficiency. SB 980 has been assigned to the Government Modernization committee where it is set to receive a hearing next Monday.

Senate Bill 800 is authored by Senator Anthony Sykes and is an excellent strategy for preserving the integrity of the initiative and referendum process in Oklahoma. As you may be aware, the Oklahoma Constitution allows for the people to pass a petition in order to allow them to vote on issues that the Legislature refuses to take action on. This is how such important laws have been written as Oklahoma's term limit law and the Constitutional provision that makes it very hard for the Legislature to raise taxes without a vote of the people.

Unfortunately, the petition process can be thwarted by minor legal mistakes in the petition language that can sometimes cause it to be thrown out even after the petition organizers have gone to enormous effort to get the thousands of necessary signatures. As you might imagine, this serves as a disincentive for citizens to start a petition for fear that all their hard work would be wasted because of a minor mistake. SB 800 would require that a petition that does not have the necessary legal language can be thrown out before the petition is passed around for signatures. This way, everyone would be on the same page prior to the petition being considered.

Senate Joint Resolution 12 is authored by Senator Randy Brogden. It would allow the people to vote on placing term limits on statewide officials, limiting them to two terms in office. It is mirror legislation to my House version of statewide term limits which passed the House two weeks ago.

Both SB 800 and SJR 12 will be considered by the House Rules Committee where I have requested a hearing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SB 980 is poised to create more problems than it solves. All we have to do is look at the failure in Texas where IT was essentially privatized based on recomendations by the central IT office (massive data loss in 2008). Is the state's information assessts something we really want to toy with? Is there really a problem with IT in the state of Oklahoma? Who says there is a problem and what evidence exists to support this assersion? Who is advising lawmakers on this (vendors?). The spirit of SB 980 has merit, but there is not suffiencet evidence or data (made available to voters) to support thecentralized power the bill would create. Btw, when I file my tax return electronically with the state of Oklahoma, the turn-around is about 10 times faster than the federal government. Someone is doing a good job, and we should not go looking to fix something that's not broke (especially when that state is facing budget cuts).