Carl’s Capitol Comments: Update on bills

Several of my House bills have made it through the committee process and been added to the floor calendar in the Senate. Others are still awaiting a hearing in a Senate committee. In the meantime, I’m working to move the Senate bills I’ve authored through the committee process on the House side.

Senate Bill 910 would require the Commissioners of the Land Office (what most people call the School Land Office) to come to counties where they are selling land to hold public auctions instead of holding them in Oklahoma City. This makes these auctions more accessible to area residents. The bill passed committee and now is eligible to be heard on the House floor, the last step before going to the governor to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 140 increases the age for participants in the Delayed Sentencing Program for Young Adults. This is a mirror image to my House Bill 1692. It would expand the number of persons eligible to participate in the Delayed Sentencing Program by allowing persons up to the age of 25 to be considered for the program. Currently, the program is only for those 18 to 21. We almost had this bill passed last year even in spite of the shortened session due to the COVID pandemic.

This program places non-violent youthful offenders 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. The center has available beds, so granting this age extension will help them fill those, and it will help more young people.

Eventually, this could save the state money by decreasing the number of individuals incarcerated in the Department of Corrections. The exact amount of potential savings would depend on the number of individuals able to participate in the program.

The House and Senate will often run duplicate measures to ensure that at least one makes it through the entire legislative process to be signed into law.

On a final note, I participated on March 16 in the Oklahoma Youth Expo’s 18th Annual Legislative and Celebrity Showmanship Reception in Oklahoma City. Randlyne Dunlap of the Alva FFA allowed me to show her goat “Deuce.” Randlyne is a terrific young lady who worked very hard to make it to the Sale of Champions in what is touted as the world’s largest junior livestock show. Her dedication is impressive.

This event is wonderful for participating youth. It brings together about 7,000 exhibitors along with their educators and families. This year it raised about $300,000 in youth scholarships. It was an honor to be a part of this.

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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