Legislators talk about current bills during Eggs & Issues


April 30, 2023

Marione Martin

Rep. Carl Newton (right) listens to a question from Chris Olson (far left in front row) during the Eggs and Issues portion of the Alva Chamber Community Coffee April 21.

Chad Warmington, president and CEO of the Oklahoma State Chamber, spoke during the Eggs & Issues program at Northwest Technology Friday, April 21. The Alva Chamber Community Coffee featured Warmington and state legislators giving updates from the state capitol. REI Oklahoma hosted the event.

"A lot of people are working on the work force. There's nobody that owns it," said Warmington. "There's nobody at the end of the day, where Sen. Murdock can say, 'Why don't we have enough nurses or why don't we have enough engineers?'"

He said Senate Bill 641, which at that time was in the House of Representatives, creates the Work Force Commission. It pulls together nine business leaders to work with career tech and higher education, K-12 and other service providers. The commission would be tasked with determining the work force needs of Oklahoma and coordinating the effort to provide that work force. The commission wouldn't tell educational institutions how to run their programs, but it would tell them where Oklahoma's economy is headed.

Then the commission can say, "Let's get there together and build some programs. We can leverage state dollars, we can leverage federal dollars and we can leverage private dollars to help create those programs."

Rep. Carl Newton

Rep. Carl Newton said the House is currently looking at bills sent over from the Senate while the Senate looks at House bills. One of the bills he supported was authored by Sen. Casey Murdock. Right now the secretary of the Commission of the Land Office is appointed by the governor. The legislature wants to have more input into that appointment. This bill would have two House members and two Senate members choose a candidate to present to the governor for appointment.

Newton said right now child abuse is not a basis for filing a protective order. A current bill being considered would allow parents or guardians to file on behalf of minors.

An election bill would move the filing period and primary up a week. He said in an election last year the primary was on June 28 with the runoff on Aug. 4 which did not allow time to send out and receive back absentee ballots for the military.

Another bill involves sales tax paid on a car purchase. Right now, you have to pay sales tax on the full price of the car. Newton said he's working on a bill that would allow buyers to pay deduct the amount allowed for a trade-in from the car price, reducing the amount of sales tax paid.

Newton said the House and Senate both have education bills. At that time, they were in a stand-off on the bills. He said Sen. Murdock commented earlier, "We're in a staring contest."

"It's important to me. It's important to (Sen. Murdock) that we take care of education," he said.

Sen. Casey Murdock

"It's a good process," said Sen. Murdock of the legislative process. "I'm very confident that when we get done with the education package, while it may not be what everybody wanted, but it's going to be the best product for you guys when it comes through."

Continuing Murdock said when you've got two groups fighting, "when everybody walks away mad, you've probably got the best deal for both of them. And that's where we're at on education."

Murdock is principal senate co-author of House Bill 1590 named the Haiden Fleming Memorial Act. He said Fleming was 22 years old when he had a health emergency. His family lived on the county line, and it took the ambulance 30 to 45 minutes to get to his place because a cellphone was used to summon help and they couldn't find him. Murdock said the 911 system, a 1975 analog system, needs to be updated to the next generation which this bill would accomplish.

"I don't like fees," said Murdock. But he said the "No. 1 job of the state is public safety." The bill would raise the telephone bill fee from 50 cents to $1.25 per month.

Marione Martin

Chad Warmington, president and CEO of the Oklahoma State Chamber, talks about a work force bill he's working on with legislators. He spoke during the Eggs & Issues program sponsored by the Alva Chamber and REI Oklahoma April 21.

"As much as I hate fees, this has to happen," said Murdock. He said several counties in his ten-county district can't afford to provide 911 services and have to piggyback off other counties, naming Cimarron and Harper Counties as examples. He said Arkansas and Kansas have updated their systems, and it's time for Oklahoma to do it.

A video of the entire program may be viewed at http://www.AlvaReviewCourier.com


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