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House committees plow through legislation ahead of Thursday deadline  

OKLAHOMA CITY – House committees churned through stacks of legislation Wednesday, trying to beat a Thursday deadline that will leave a major share of this session’s bills and joint resolutions on the cutting room floor.
Measures without committee approval by the close of business Thursday go by the wayside; those that did get approval begin jockeying for position on the floor calendar in the coming weeks.
The only floor action of note Wednesday involved the passage of House Bill 1013, by Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, which would allow advanced practice registered nurses to practice without a physician’s supervision.
The measure passed with relative ease, 72-20, but Rep. Dale Derby, R-Owasso, one of two doctors in the House, did his best to stop or slow down the measure with 11 floor amendments, none of which was adopted.
In committee, measures that would further consolidate authority in the Governor’s Office and legislative leadership survived.
HB 2316, by Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, would allow the governor, the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tem to replace most board and commission appointees. By doing so, the governor and legislative leaders would effectively control the hiring and firing of most agency heads.
A companion bill, HB 1944, by Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon, would allow the governor to approve or overrule state agency administrative rules.
Also hustled through the committee process Wednesday were a number of bills that would repeal tax incentives granted to the wind-energy industry over the years. In most cases, the bills would accelerate the expiration date to July 1 for incentives that were set to expire in four years.
Critics of the incentives say they have grown far larger than expected when implemented in the 1990s and do not produce much in the way of tangible benefits to the state. Proponents say wind farms create jobs, support schools and produce clean electricity and that the commitments the state made to the industry should be honored.
HB 2290, by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, made its way through committee carrying some key elements of Gov. Mary Fallin’s criminal justice reform package, specifically as they relate to drug courts.
A related bill, HB 2286, by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, also advanced.
HB 1803, by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, made it through the committee despite reservations about its wording and intent. Roberts said the bill is intended to prevent public money from being spent to promote gun control, but some interpreted the actual language to prohibit all individuals from spending money of any kind in that manner.
Roberts, who introduced a similar bill last year, said he was open to suggestions.
Among the legislation that apparently will not survive Thursday’s deadline was a bill that would authorize the sale of Grand River Dam Authority assets and another to tap into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.

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