Saturday, February 27, 2010

Committees Pass Dorman Bills to Improve and Assist Emergency Response

Oklahoma House of Representatives
Media Division
February 25, 2010

Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Capitol: (405) 557-7305

Committees Pass Dorman Bills to Improve and Assist Emergency Response

OKLAHOMA C IT Y – State Rep. Joe Dorman announced today the passage of three emergency management bills by House committees this week.

House Joint Resolution 1018 would create an income tax check-off to fund the 12.5 percent match required by FEMA to help pay the state portion of disasters and phone lines for reporting needs during disaster relief and recovery. The legislation was passed unanimously by the House Rules Committee.

“This is an issue I have been working on for several years and hope it is the first of many ways we can use to provide funding for emergency management,” said Dorman. “The subject of providing monetary assistance for the phone lines came from a conference I co-hosted to look into this area. We have received much valuable input from those affected by the recent ice storms which hit Oklahoma and those who delivered assistance.”

House Bill 3123 would create two new levels of tax credits for volunteer firefighters. Under current Oklahoma law, firefighters can earn one of two tax credits for training they receive. This legislation would expand the credit to four levels.

“In an interim study conducted over the fall, officials suggested the additional two levels of tax credits to avoid a potential conflict with interpretation of the current law,” Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said. “A strict interpretation of the statutes covering this credit could prevent firefighters from receiving the higher level when they file their tax returns. This legislation will ensure we encourage firefighters to take the classes to achieve the necessary skills to do their job in the best, safest manner and receive the knowledge to better protect rural Oklahomans by providing the proper incentives to take these classes.”

“Our volunteer firefighters sacrifice valuable time away from family and friends, along with potential overtime from work just so they can assist their local areas,” said Dorman. “We want to make sure the training is the best available and actually fits their needs if they are going to go to this extra effort. This bill also helps in that area by bringing the local fire chiefs together to recommend programs which will best benefit their region of the state.”

House Bill 3123 also passed out of the House Rules Committee, where representatives from fire service organizations were on hand to answer questions.

House Bill 1658 would place health care service providers volunteering their services at secondary school activities under the Good Samaritan Act. The legislation was in response to the death of Justin Barney, a freshman football player from Rush Springs who died from an injury at a game two years ago. Family members were on hand Wednesday to testify for the bill to the Rules Committee.

“No ambulance or doctor was on hand to treat the injury and it took about 20 minutes for an ambulance to reach the scene,” Dorman said. “Anytime we can provide immediate medical assistance in the time of an injury, this lessens the likelihood of more severe complications developing as a result of the injury.”

The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed the legislation unanimously, where it will now proceed to the House Floor Leader’s office to be scheduled for a hearing by the full House of Representatives.

None of the three bills will have a negative impact on the state budget, according to a fiscal analysis prepared by House staff, stated Dorman.

“Each of these bills will create the support for an individual to step up and protect their community and enhance public service,” said Dorman. “Whether by incentivizing additional firefighter training, encouraging doctors to volunteer their serves at school sports function or assisting with expedient disaster relief and recovery, we are showing how our citizens go above and beyond to help their neighbors.”

All House bills must be considered by Thursday, March 11 to move further through the legislative process. Bills not considered by the house of origin at this point will not be considered during the remainder of the legislative session.

“All three of these pieces of legislation were request bills that arose from constituents or experts in the field,” said Dorman. “I’m happy we are able to assist each of the groups of workers in these areas to help improve our state through these legislative changes”


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