Column: Rep. Boles 2020 Top Priority Bills filed in the House of Reps.
This past Thursday, Jan. 16 was the deadline for all new House and Senate bills to be introduced for the coming legislative session. A total of 1,361 House Bills, 16 House Joint Resolutions and 4 House Concurrent Resolutions were filed, alongside a total of 840 Senate Bills and 19 Senate Joint Resolutions. In addition to the new legislation, a number of bills were carried over from last year – the first session of the 57th Legislature.
House members are only allowed to be the primary author of eight bills in any legislative session. As the chair of the House County & Municipal Government Committee, I focused seven of eight of my top priority bills on modernizing county and city government statutes in an effort to streamline government services for all Oklahomans.
Below is a short summary of my eight priority bills for the upcoming 2020 session:
• HB3269 – This bill modifies current municipal audit requirements and will lead to better financial transparency for taxpayers and will put tighter accounting checks and balances in place for cities with population less than 2,500. I’ve worked very closely with the State Auditor’s office and we feel that this bill will be a very positive step forward for municipal financial governance and accountability.
• HB3270 – This bill modifies the “Keep your License Plate Law” that was passed in 2019. Current law states that when a vehicle is sold between two individuals/parties that do not carry a dealer or used dealer license; the seller can keep the existing license plate and the buyer has a 5 day timeframe to get a new license plate. This new bill will extend the amount of days that a person has to get a new license plate from 5 to 15 days and also will give the vehicle owner the ability to redact the home address information printed on the registration certificate that is required to be in the vehicle. Constituents, local bankers, and even a local tag agent reached out to me explaining how the current law’s 5 day time period isn’t always a long enough period to get a new license plate for vehicle buyers. Currently, there are many cases when a vehicle buyer has to park the car due to the current 5 day law not being enough time to get the new license plate because of the extended timeframe it takes for the seller to get a title lien released or even get a duplicate title ordered for the sold vehicle which is needed in many cases. Extending this time period from 5 to 15 days should take care of the majority of these issues and the Dept. of Public Safety and the OK Tax Commission have agreed to this change as well.
• HB3271 – This bill allows county governments in Oklahoma the option to use online bidding for projects. The state already has this ability and this bill gives county government the same flexibility that the state currently has. County governments didn’t have online bidding capabilities when the current state statute was written and this bill will help with the Digital Modernization initiative that Governor Stitt has for the State of OK and take it to the local County level. There would be no cost to the local county to implement online bidding and each county could choose whether they want to implement the online bidding program or not. Online bidding has proven to be a way to attract more bidders which increases competition and lowers cost, and takes less personnel resources and time to manage than traditional bidding programs.
• HB3272 – This bill will give county governments the option to retain a data processing technician after the term of office of the board of county commissioners employing the technician. The current statute doesn’t give the counties the option to retain employment and is outdated and needs modernized. We need to give the local county government the ability to make that employment decision at the local county level instead of the state mandating what they have to do.
• HB3273 – This bill modifies the current county elected official salary formula model and increases the base salary cap from $44,500 to $49,500. The current cap of $44,500 was set back in 1998 (22 years ago) and a $5,000 increase (10%) over 22 years is a very fair and reasonable adjustment. The state sets county elected official salary caps thru the salary formula and it’s up to the each individual county to set their county elected official base pay to be in compliance with the state formula which they are audited each year to ensure they are within.
• HB3274 – This bill gives the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) an exemption from the Oklahoma Open Records Act, exclusively limited to security plans and procedures such as cybersecurity matters. It also gives them an exemption from the Information Technology Consolidation and Coordination Act. The OMPA is a not-for-profit electric utility that provides power to 42 cities that have municipally owned utility systems in Oklahoma. The OMPA currently has to comply with the suite of 100 cybersecurity and operational standards that address the reliability of the electric grid and are audited by NERC on a regular basis. It only makes sense to give the OMPA the ability to have these security strategy meetings outside the open meeting records act for confidentiality and public safety reasons. The legislature gave the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) a very similar exemption in 2019 that this bill would give to the OMPA.
• HB3275 – This bill modifies the competitive bidding act for cities and counties for construction projects. It increases the public construction contract threshold from $50,000 to $75,000. The previous $50,000 limit was set in 2006 and since then construction costs have risen over the past 14 years and this bill would give cities and counties more flexibility to move quickly if needed on contracts under $75,000 or less (current law is $50,000 or less) without having to go thru an extended public bidding process that could take more than a month prior to accepting a bid.
• HB3276 – This bill modifies the process for disposing of certain property or money recovered by municipal police departments.
The 2020 legislative session starts Feb. 3. I hope you can come visit me this session at my new Capitol office located in Room 244. Please also feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns that I can assist you with at (405) 557-7405 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s truly an honor and privilege to represent you and District 51 at the State Capitol. God Bless!
Rep. Brad Boles represents District 51 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Grady, McClain and Stephens Counties.
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