For the last four weeks, committees have been meeting in the Oklahoma House and Senate to decide which bills should be allowed on their respective floors.
You might say we tied some things up this week.
For the last four weeks, committees have been meeting in the Oklahoma House and Senate to decide which bills should be allowed on their respective floors. Because of the ice storm last week, the meetings this week, ending on Thursday, March 1 were often quite long. In the meetings I participated in, committee members were often digging deep into the implications of bills, there was occasionally spirited debate, and from time to time, well, it just got really interesting.
I’ll get to a couple bills in a minute, but first let me describe the Battle of the Tie.
A bill was being discussed in the Senate Appropriations Committee when one senator offered an amendment to the bill. I just happened to be presenting the bill for the Senate author who was unavailable to attend the meeting. Soon another senator requested a point of order from the chair. It turned out the senator offering the amendment was not wearing a tie, and Senate rules require that male members of the Senate wear neckties on the floor, and the committee room can be considered an extension of the floor when there is a committee meeting.
There was a rousing debate over this matter with senators grabbing their copies of rule books. It was lively and entertaining, but, before the chair had to rule, a tie was produced and the offending senator draped it around his neck several times and we got back to discussing the amendment.
Now a couple bills.
SB 337 will require retailers across the nation to submit personally identifiable information, about Oklahoma citizens who buy from them, to the Oklahoma Tax Commission who will then mail tax bills to citizens. Anyone else see a problem with this? Things like your name, address, amount of purchase.
So if you buy a $100 toaster from XYZ Business in Dayton, Ohio you’re going to get a tax bill for $4.50 from the Tax Commission.
How is this to be enforced? Will the Tax Commission withhold your refund? How many hundreds of thousands of these letters will need to be generated? What about errors? Do we really want this much personal information being put out there for cyber criminals to hack?
Amazon and others who currently collect sales tax submit no personally identifiable information, just the money.
Here are two of my bills.
• SB 957 offers the same legal protections to a church, and those attending it, as businesses and homeowners have should they have to defend themselves against a violent threat.
• SB 1237 allows the Department of Corrections to use cell phone blocking and/or capturing technology should the FCC allow it to do so in the prisons. The FCC is currently considering this rule change. One of the greatest threats to those who work in the prisons is the cellphones that are smuggled in, are traded, rented and sold, many of which are used to run criminal enterprises from within the prisons.
I welcome your questions and concerns, so please feel free to contact my office at the State Capitol if you would like to discuss a particular issue or problem. Our office can be reached by phone at 405-521-5561 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you visit the Capitol, we are located in Room 428B.
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) was elected in 2016 as the state senator from District 1, which encompasses the northeast corner of Oklahoma. The district includes Craig County, Delaware County, Mayes County and Ottawa County.