Several people have asked me about the special session. We are presently in the 2 nd extraordinary session of the 50 th Legislature. However, we are not presently meeting. We have already had the first and second readings of the bills in both the House and the Senate. The bills do not have any monetary figures in them yet, but will be amended once an agreement is reached.
That way the House and the Senate only have to come in for two or three days to finish the session. Both chambers are still waiting for the Speaker, the Pro-Tempore of the Senate, and the Governor to come to an agreement. Once that is reached both chambers will return to the Capitol to pass the bills pertaining to the budget. There is no reason that should not be next week.
This session was a productive session, especially for rural areas. Despite persistent warnings to the contrary, some very helpful legislation was passed for our area. In addition to bills that I wrote about last week that benefited our area, there were also bills in the area of rural development, public safety, and transportation that will greatly help rural areas.
HB 2895 created the Motor Carrier Harvest Permit Act. This bill gives jurisdiction for wheat harvesting permits to the Corporation Commission and also mandates that portable scales for weighing vehicles may not be located within two miles of a grain elevator.
To assist overtaxed volunteer fire departments, the legislature enacted HB 2252, which appropriates $3.6 million to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to be used to address needs associated with the costs to the Department and the Incidental Command Posts established during the fires. An additional $1.5 million was used to reimburse rural fire departments for expenses incurred to suppress drought-related fires.
SB 1190 appropriated an additional $4.5 million for Operational Fire Grants to aid rural fire departments, $2 million to be used to repair or replace rural firefighting equipment and another $2.5 million to address expenses incurred by rural fire departments during the drought.
Several measures were enacted this session to increase the efficiency and effective use of funds on the state's transportation infrastructure. One measure, SB 1288, allocates $125 million to the department of Transportation to use solely on repairing obsolete and damaged bridges. As second measure, SB 1390 increases the reimbursable amount for force account county bridge projects from $100,000 to $200,000 and allows the transfer of monies from the County Bridge and Road Improvement Funds to a county highway fund when a county must reconstruct a damaged bridge.
Hopefully, next week I will have some good news about the state budget and additional appropriations for the state of Oklahoma . I will be at my home in Goodwell, until the special session reconvenes if you need to contact me with a question or comment. You may also call my office at the Capitol at 405-557-7384.
Boise City News