Carl’s Capitol Comments: Busy week at Capitol

This past week was an incredibly busy one on the House floor. We heard an average of between 50 and 60 bills per day. We still have about 300 bills eligible for consideration before the March 11 deadline for House bills to be passed in the House Chamber. After that, the House will begin hearing Senate bills and the Senate will take up our legislation.

Four of my bills passed in the House this week and moved to the Senate where they’ve already been first read.

House Bill 1687 would allow cemeteries to reclaim plots that have been unused and unattended for at least 85 years or more. Before a plot could be reclaimed, letters would be sent to the last known heirs as well as a published notice in a newspaper. After that is completed, the cemetery would still have to wait another year to reclaim the plot. If an heir were to come forward at a later date, they would be given a compensatory plot. This just lets our local cemeteries make use of all available space that for all intents seems abandoned.

House Bill 1689 allows doctors and their patients to continue to use telemedicine even after the COVID-19 crisis passes. During the onset of the pandemic, we allowed this practice and found it benefitted all involved. There’s no reason in this day and age that we can’t allow this to continue. Patients can of course request an in-person visit with their doctors if they feel it necessary, but this gives them the opportunity for routine calls for care to be taken care of much more efficiently. I truly believe this will improve health care for many who might otherwise go for long periods without checking in with their doctor.

House Bill 1692 raises the age from 21 to 25 for those who can participate in the Delayed Sentencing Program for Young Adults. This program places non-violent youthful offenders over the age of 18 into a boot-camp like setting for between six months to a year. Those who successfully complete the program can receive a deferred sentence or have their criminal charges suspended or dismissed. This gets these young people out of prison and back to the work force with the skills and the help they need to succeed.

The Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva is one of the main providers of this program, and they’ve had a lot of success in rehabilitating the young people that participate.

House Bill 1705 simplifies the paperwork process for people generating or shipping hazardous waste. They still have to be in compliance with the Department of Environmental Quality, but they no longer have to submit additional reports to DEQ. This makes the process more efficient for all involved. However, it in no way decreases the protection standards already in place.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at carl.newton@okhouse.gov, or phone me at 405-557-7339. May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.

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