Several bills were somewhat rewritten by joint conference committees and put up for final votes at the state capitol, in the past 24 hours.
Fetgatter called HB2601 "the cleanup bill", so it may be the last cannabis legislation of the year?
After the political world was rocked by the legalization of marijuana for medical use. In the 11 months since it's passage, there has been a rapid rollout and several agency attempts to derail it. But the program has far exceeded the projections of the govt. agency tasked with administering it (OMMA).
One of the prominent advocates at the capitol and around the state has been a pain management patient named Chis Moe. Sooner Politics editor in chief, David Van Risseghem sat down with Chris Moe (aka Uncle Grumpy) to discuss matters of drug policy reform.
Moe published a video of the hour long discussion. We're sharing it with our readers.
It had some technical difficulties, but here's the first 43 minutes of the hour long interview.
Rep. Jon Echols prevailed upon the legislature to fix a terrible problem that the 2018 legislature created for chronic pain sufferers. The Attorney General's effort to crack down on opioid abuse through tough criminal enforcement has led to terrible suffering made worse for the most vulnerable among us.
His legislation SB848, specifically rolls back the requirement that long-term chronic pain sufferers seek a new prescription every 30 days. It will now require a prescription every 180 days, when this becomes new law.
In Echols' floor speech, he explains that the opioide dangers lay primarily with new patients who's recent injury prescription turns into a long term habit.
Echols referenced his many letters from chronic pain sufferers who describe terrible difficulty in arranging and attending monthly appointments, since they are often homebound and their mobility is very difficult to accommodate.
The opioide law forbids the use of telemed appointments, refillable prescriptions, and other obstacles.
The Oklahoma lawmakers have largely taken a path of deference to the voters, in this first legislative session after the voters changed our laws on marijuana and hemp.
Last summer there was urgency and even panic about whether the implementation could happen without more legislative action. In the end, the lawmakers decided that the path of lesser regulation could prevail until the February scheduled date of the 57th Legislature.
But the Interim Study, led by Rep. Jon Echols & Sen. Greg McCortney, were at work with advocates and industry experts, to polish up a framework of needed structure so that the Health Dept could put product safety mandates into effect. HB2612 was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt before spring break. It was referred to "the unity bill" because various private sector interests wrote most of it after resolving differences among themselves. The Unity Bill was the most important legislation because it replaces temporary 'emergency rules' which sunset later this summer.
The current published list of about 170 physicians would be replaced by a list of thousands.
The House gave final passage to a bill which corrects the policy of the State Health Dept on Medical Marijuana Recommendations. It now awaits the signature of the Governor. An emergency clause is included, which will make the policy effective immediately upon signage. On Wednesday, the House accepted all senate amendments of HB2613 and sent the bill to the governor. Coupled with SB162, which the governor signed on Tuesday, these changes mean greater continuity of care under a patient's current healthcare team.
What this will mean for patients is the ability to remain under the care of your own state-licensed physician and be able to implement treatment with cannabis medicines once your own physician's recommendation is certified by the Health Dept.
SQ788, which the voters passed last summer, was written with the intent of allowing any physician licensed to treat people in Oklahoma and certified by an Oklahoma board (Medical Doctor, Osteopathic Doctor, or Podiatrist) could begin recommending cannabis at their discretion. But the Board of Health decided to interpret the language far more restrictively and pretend that the language refers to being a "Board Certified Specialist" by an industry specialist board, rather than a state govt. board.
Rep. Tom Gann of Mayes County was the lone holdout in an overwhelming vote to double the cost for individuals to fail records at their county clerk's office. Rep. Mark Lawson presented the bill on the floor and said that the fee was set at $5 in 2001. If it becomes law, the fee will be $10. County Clerks would receive a huge windfall by this action and citizens would have no opt out. Registering transactions at the county clerk's office is an essential means of protecting ownership of real property and establishing proprietorship. Some argue that this is just one of many examples where govt. creates a greater burden on the people. Electronic record keeping ought to be lowering the cost to county govt., but in this case we just doubled the cost. Other's say this is actually a 'user fee' and not a tax.
The Senate Republicans on the Education committee were split on the matter of forcing private education groups to pay for their staff's own training to comply with a proposed new state mandate. The vote was 7-7. Senators Bullard, Haste, Smalley & Duggar decided to force faith based private schools to provide the training to their staff, many of whom are volunteers. The 3 Democrats all voted for the bill. But Senators Scott, Newhouse, Stanislawski, Pemberton, Shaw, Pederson, & Kidd were not willing to force religious education entities to comply and bear the financial burden of compliance. The bill will probably return in the next session in a form which focuses on public schools without the creation of a imposition on ministries and other private education providers. Rep. Echols is the author.
In a recently brokered deal between the Legislative leaders & Governor Stitt's office; 5 of our state agencies will be restructured to bring more direct accountability to the people.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority ( $5.581 billion budget)
Department of Transportation ( $1.895 billion budget)
Department of Corrections ($603 million budget)
Office of Juvenile Affairs ($110 million budget)
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services ($442 million budget)
Citizen advocacy groups have long expressed frustration with the agencies in their lack of responsiveness to the people of the state. The legislature currently has little effect on how the 5 agencies operate. An annual appropriation is made each year, but very little 'line-item' directives are imposed. Some of these agencies have other funding sources. the federal govt. is a major source of healthcare funding, and ODMHSAS leases out much of their state hospital capacity to corporate contractors, rather than operating the hospitals to full capacity, in-house. The deal between the governor & legislature will also gives review & termination powers to the legislature, but only when a super-majority votes 'no confidence'. It's essentially a process similar to impeachment.
The Oklahoma legislature took swift action, today; to give direction to municipalities regarding city parks and individual self defense rights. The language of HB2010 assures that individuals can legally keep and bear arms on all publicly accessed property, but allows communities to require concealment of those arms in specific places or circumstances. Rep. Gary Mize and Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols teamed up to convince the committee to vote in unanimous affirmation The senate is set to vote on Echols' Consealed Carry bill ( HB2597 ). Moms & Dads can now retain their sense of security while taking their children to the park. Previously, many who needed an emergency order of protection were afraid to go out in public places where they had concerns for the safety of themselves or their children, from specific persons whom had previously threatened violence upon them. Some wanted these parks to be easy prey for criminals who would then be assured that good citizens would be unarmed. The NRA, OK2A, and the cities of Tulsa & OKC all collaborated on the language of this bill.
Nearly 8 months after the Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana initiative petition, the legislature is now reviewing the language of a bill which would bring more clarity to the new law.
Rep. Jon Echols (R-OKC) filed a committee substitute to his previously filed 'shell bill', HB2612. The substance of the bill is the product of unanimous support from the Bicameral Interim Study Group on Medical Marijuana. The group convened last July when the Oklahoma Department of Health inforced several egregious emergency rules which violate the constitutional limits of their authority.
The District Attorneys are still investigating bribery allegations and other frauds committed by the Health Dept. and other agencies, who were trying to hamper or destroy the law which the voters enacted constitutionally.
A coalition of patient groups, business associations, and civil rights advocates worked with the Interim study group to bring clarity to the very loosely-written law.
From that document, Interim Study co-chair, Jon Echols, further honed the document and last Wednesday the group added about 20 other amendments before unanimously recommending the legislation to the legislature.
SQ788 author, Chip Paul, working at the capitol to fine-tune the Cannabis Medicine laws.
David Van Risseghem is the Publisher of SoonerPolitics.org. It is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform & restored liberty. We seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...