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A Donnybrook Expected as Oklahoma's Legislative Session Begins
Monday, February 5, 2018 7:00 AM

Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative session starts today, and it promises to be one of the most contentious in recent memory. The reason? The state budget.

After months of sometimes heated negotiations, the House, Senate and Governor’s Office have yet to reach an agreement on last year’s spending plan. As the impasse continues, tensions have escalated to the point of outright hostility among many involved in the budget process.

Even though fixing the state’s fiscal woes is the stated priority for lawmakers, the House and Senate will consider nearly 2,000 new bills dealing with a multitude of issues. Bills have been filed to address everything from guns to gender-specific restrooms, and several others could impact Oklahoma’s credit unions

According to Oklahoma Credit Union Association President Nate Webb, every bill filed for the new session has been reviewed to identify for any that could impact credit unions.

“As we start session we have approximately 150 bills on our tracking list," Webb said. "Of those, 42 are deemed priorities.” These are bills we strongly support or strongly oppose.”

The remainder of the bills are those susceptible to hostile amendments. Webb cited two such examples from last year—an eleventh-hour attempt to allow PACE loans and another to allow payday lenders to broaden their footprint in Oklahoma.

Of immediate concern this year are the perennial fights with the state’s tow truck operators and many other bills that could very well have an adverse impact on lienholder interests.

Another high-priority issue is the plethora of bills related to firearms. Webb said some of would be detrimental to a credit union’s security.

“Over 82 gun-related bills were filled this year, and several could potentially make it illegal for business owner to ban fire arms on their property."

Webb said it will not be business as usual at the Capitol this year. “Legislative sessions are always contentious," he said, "but this year’s will be more turbulent than most.”

The session begins shortly before noon today when the House and Senate meet in a joint session for the governor’s State-of-the State Address.