Earlier this month, the Oklahoma House and Senate adjourned the first session of the 58th legislature. We have much to celebrate as well as build on.
hero_image_alt_text===Oklahoma state capitol
thumbnail_alt_text===Oklahoma state capitol
Here are some highlights:
We successfully passed legislation to expand telecommunicator CPR training in 2021! Thanks to all the advocates that contacted lawmakers and took action to support the bill, SB 687. T-CPR training will now be part of minimum call taker standards for 9-1-1 respondents so they can be better equipped to coach callers to save victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Our next step will be to work with the 9-1-1 Management Authority to improve call taker training across the state so that all 9-1-1 respondents are trained according to the same set of standards.
Send a message to Governor Stitt and thank him for signing legislation to expand telecommunicator CPR training.
On June 30, 2020, voters passed Medicaid expansion via a ballot initiative, providing health coverage to over 200,000 additional Oklahomans. Expanded Medicaid coverage will take effect July 1, 2021. There was some uncertainty around funding for expansion, but lawmakers funded Medicaid expansion in the budget passed last week!
Representative Randy Randleman authored HB 1054, which would have taxed e-cigarettes at a rate comparable to the tax on cigarettes, which would help prevent many young people from becoming addicted. Simultaneously, Representative Kevin Wallace, Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, introduced a bill to tax e-cigarettes at the low rate of $0.05 per ml, which would do little to deter young people from buying these products. Because both were assigned to the same committee – Rep. Wallace’s own committee – we focused on modifying or stopping HB 2876. Although it did pass out of committee, it was never heard on the House floor. Both HB 1054 and HB 2876 are eligible for consideration during the 2022 legislative session.
You may recall, last year, we stopped tobacco industry legislation that would have modified definitions of tobacco products in order to exempt certain products from tobacco taxes. In final hours of session, language was added to a bill (SB 1078) that quickly moved through the legislature and was signed it into law by the Governor. We achieved strong bipartisan opposition to this maneuver and earned support from several new champions in both the House and the Senate.
Additionally, two pieces of legislation that will be available for consideration in 2022 and we will be working to advance are HB 1893 (Representative Jeff Boatman) which would repeal the restrictions on addressing clean indoor air locally, and HB 2128 (Representative Marcus McEntire), which seeks to address tobacco retail licensure and youth access.
When it comes to tobacco policy, we have our work cut out for us. We must work together to help the legislature understand their role in combating the epidemic in increased youth tobacco use and addiction. Stay tuned to learn more ways you can help!
Other Issues of Note:
Economically, Oklahoma had a better budget outlook than many lawmakers anticipated earlier in the pandemic. Ultimately, the legislature cut corporate and income taxes in the state budget and made no cuts to agency budgets.
Lawmakers are expected to convene for a special session in October to approve new congressional maps. There are no other topics anticipated to be discussed during the special session, but that could always change. We will be monitoring the situation should anything of concern to our mission arise.
Thank you for all your advocacy efforts this session and we look forward to continuing to work with you in the days ahead!