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Tis the—er, Season at the Oklahoma State Capitol
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:55 AM

"There’s an old joke about laws being like sausage, because you never actually want to see either of them being made," says Oklahoma Credit Union Association President Nate Webb. "Well, sausage-making season is in full swing at the Oklahoma State Capitol."

As we approach the end of week 10 of the Oklahoma Legislative Session, Webb says lawmakers are focused on next week’s impending legislative deadline. Bills not passed from committee into the opposite chamber by Thursday, April 13, will not advance during the 2017 session.

"From now until the end of session, our days are made up of long hours inside and outside the capitol negotiating with various stakeholders, building coalitions, meeting with legislators, and forming a strategy to either advance or defeat bills important to Oklahoma credit unions," Webb says. "Given the fluidity and pace of the process leading up to next week’s deadline, providing an accurate status report is, at best, difficult. That said, there is a lot to report in regard to our legislative agenda."

Following are Webb's updates:

SB 0698 – Introduced on behalf of Oklahoma wrecker operators, this bill seeks to relax certain regulations imposed as a result of the comprehensive Title 42 reform that passed in 2014. Now residing in the House Committee on Judiciary, we have successfully kept the bill from being heard. However, the House author seems intent on moving the bill forward, and it's very likely SB 0698 will be placed on next week’s committee agenda. If that happens, we will issue a grassroots alert.

SB 0064 – A request bill from the Oklahoma Credit Union Association, SB 0064 creates continuity in the statute outlining the process by which credit unions disperse assets when the deceased has no will. The process is currently outlined in two sections of law with conflicting language. The bill is waiting to be heard in the full House.

HB 1597 – A request bill from OKCUA, HB 1597 requires subpoenas issued by a judgment creditor, which requires disclosure of information deemed valid. The initial draft of our bill faced strong opposition from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), the state agency charged with enforcing conformity with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. It is OESC's position that any state law not in conformity with DOL rules will put federal funding to the state at risk. We have amended our initial bill and are working with OESC representatives and DOL in an effort to reach an acceptable compromise. The bill has passed the House and is tentatively set to be heard next week.

HB 1694 – Designed to provide additional funding for financial literacy, we are working with a coalition of groups supporting this measure. Among other things, HB 1694 would infuse an additional $300,000 into public schools for financial literacy training. Because Oklahoma is facing a budget crisis for the second year in a row, it is unlikely this bill would pass if it relied on a general appropriation. However, HB 1694 seeks to provide a dedicated revenue stream by imposing a $1 fee on payday lenders. The bill has passed the House and is now waiting to be heard in Senate Appropriations. The Senate author feels confident the bill will pass.

"The long list of bills related to firearms continues to dwindle," Webb says. "Of particular concern are any that could take away the rights of credit unions and other businesses to prohibit firearms on their property. One of the most problematic of these bills is SB 0288. As originally written, a business owner could have actually been liable for trying to ban firearms. On Tuesday, the bill was heavily amended in committee and in its current form is no longer a concern."

This is a small example of activities at the Oklahoma State Capitol over the past few days, but the sausage harvest is far from over.