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Legislative Update May 6, 2011 

State Disability and Agency Legislation Status Report

Sheltered workshops

HB-1228 (Ownbey; Simpson)

Authorizing the Department of Human Services to inspect and license sheltered workshops that do not already contract with DHS through the Developmental Disabilities Services Division.  The legislation lets DHS enforce basic standards for sheltered workshops and applies only to workshops for persons with developmental disabilities.   It requires criminal background checks for all employees of a sheltered workshop.  The bill has been signed into law and is effective November 1, 2011.

Transportation

HB-1686 (Morrissette; Crain)

Governor Fallin has signed HB-1686 into law.  The bill creates the Eastern Flyer Passenger Rail Development Task Force which will study the potential for establishing passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  The Task Force will consider how a public-private partnership may be used to fund this connection, and will examine both conventional rail and high speed rail options.  Task Force members will include government and transportation officials as well as citizens.  A report on study recommendations is due 18 months after the panel starts meeting, probably in the summer.

Transportation

HB-1990 (Sullivan; Newberry)

Originally created the "Oklahoma Multi-modal Transportation Authority Act"; which would allow establishment of public-private trusts for development of intermodal transportation projects.  The bill was modified by a floor substitute bill adopted by the Senate.  The substitute bill adds intermodal transportation projects to benefit commerce to those projects which may be undertaken by a regional transportation or economic development authority.  Added language includes a Tulsa-area bridge over the Arkansas River to the list of roads for which a toll can be charged.    This bill initially failed to pass on a tie Senate vote, but was later approved on a motion to reconsider the vote.  Senate rules were then suspended to strike the bill’s title.  The bill has been assigned to conference committee.

State employee retirement

SB-794 (Randy McDaniel)

This bill changes the rules for state employee eligibility for retirement.  The standard retirement age is raised from 62 to 65.  The bill was amended on the House floor to provide that a state worker must be at least 60 in order to start drawing retirement, even if the employee has met age plus years of service criteria before reaching age 60.  Current state employees would not be affected by this change. The bill’s House author projects it will result in savings of $400 million to the Oklahoma State Public Employees Retirement System. The House has passed SB-794, which next goes back to the Senate for consideration of House Amendments.

State employee retirement

HB-2132 (Bingman)

Requiring the Legislature to fund any cost-of-living adjustments for state retirees, rather than letting such increases be taken from the state pension system itself.  The bill’s authors predict this move will reduce the unfunded liability in the pension system by $5 billion. The change would also make it less likely that state retirees will receive cost-of-living increases in the future, since finding the funds to use for this purpose could prove extremely difficult for the Legislature.  Sent to Governor.

Department of Rehabilitation Services

HB-1047 (Faught; Garrison)

This bill authorizes the Department of Rehabilitation Services to request national criminal background checks for employees.  Signed by Governor.

State agencies; consolidation of functions

HB-2140 (Steele; Bingman)

Consolidating several state agencies into the Office of State Finance.  Agencies to be merged into OSF would include the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Central Services, State Employee Benefits Council and Group Insurance Board.  OSF would be asked to demonstrate a 15% savings from the consolidation.  House has appointed conferees.

State agencies; information technology consolidation

HB-1304 (Derby; Jolley)

This bill transfers all state agencies’ information technology assets and personnel to the Information Services Division of the Office of State Finance.  The bill consolidates the IT functions state agencies and centralizes them under the control of the state’s Chief Information Officer.  The bill’s effective date is July 1, 2011.  After that date, no state agency could acquire any information technology assets (computers, software, ancillary equipment, support services, etc.) without obtaining permission from the Chief Information Officer at OSF.  HB-1304 has passed both houses and is assigned to conference committee.  (Note: It is uncertain the extent to which this bill could impact employees, clients and consumers with disabilities who require specialized technology services, devices and programs.)

Long term care

HB-1363 (Peters; Jolley)

Creates the Oklahoma Choices for Long-Term Care Act.  The bill requires the Health Care Authority and DHS Aging Services to establish a system for presumptive eligibility for Medicaid and the Advantage Program, to enable an elderly or disabled applicant who is nursing home eligible to instead receive in-home services in a timely manner that can prevent the need for nursing home entry.  House refused to concur in Senate Amendments, requested conference and appointed conferees; Senate has not yet designated conferees.

Civil rights; disability discrimination

SB-837 (Jolley; Sullivan)

Amends title 25 with respect to discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. After veto of similar legislation last year, this bill once again would add the stipulation that protection against employment discrimination for individuals with disabilities is not available if an employer can demonstrate that an undue burden would result by accommodating the individual.  The bill also defines genetic information and bans employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information. Amended by House; House Amendments received by Senate.

Mental illness programs

HB-1377 (Holland; Crain)

This bill directs the Commission for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to establish standards and certification for mental illness service programs.  The Commission is authorized to establish fees for certification.  Standards set must be compatible with requirements of CAPF and specific other certifying bodies.  Signed by Governor.

Long term care

HB-1554 (Kern; Anderson)

Enacting the Oklahoma Options for Long-Term Care Counseling Act.  The bill provides legislative backing for a DHS Aging Services Division program that partners aging agencies and centers for independent living in provision of options counseling to help seniors and persons with disabilities find long-term care options that best meet their needs.  Signed by Governor.

Prosthetic devices; Medicaid

HB-1655 (Enns; Rob Johnson)

Directing the Oklahoma health Care Authority to study possible Medicaid coverage for certain prosthetics.  In conference committee.

Hospitals; uncompensated care

HB-1381 (Cox; Myers)

This bill assesses a fee for certain hospitals, the fees to be used to draw federal funds which can be used along with the accrued fees to pay hospitals for provision of care for uninsured persons and to help Oklahoma Medicaid maintain hospital reimbursement for care to Medicaid recipients.  Under the bill the fee would end in 2014.   Passed Senate.

Students with disabilities

HB-1744 (Nelson; Anderson)

Amendments to last year’s bill that provided for use of state and local school funds for students with disabilities to attend private schools of their parents’ choice.  In conference committee.

Mental health

HB-1271 (Coody; Barrington)

Amends definition of a person requiring mental health treatment.  In conference committee.

Mental health

HB-1638 (Ortega; Fields)

Allows the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to contract at any time with doctors, pharmacists and licensed mental health professionals who have previously been employed by the Department.  This provides an exception from existing law that prohibits state agencies from contracting with former employees until a year after they stopped working for the state.  Signed by Governor.

Advantage Program; long-term care at home

HJR-1046 (McCullough)

This resolution states legislative disapproval of certain rules proposed by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA). Ad filed, specific rules to be disapproved include three that deal with the Advantage Program, a Medicaid waiver program that provides home-based long-term care for elderly and disabled adults who would otherwise be at risk for nursing home placement.  In March the OHCA Board approved a rule to end the Advantage Program’s ability to approve services for a person when the services exceed the cost cap. Currently if a member's services exceed the cap, the OKDHS Aging Services Division can approve that member for services if certain conditions are met. The Board also approved a rule change to prohibit entry into the Advantage Program when it is at 90% of projected annual capacity, rather than the current 102% of monthly capacity, thus allowing OHCA to initiate a wait list earlier.  The rule change also eliminates exceptions to the waitlist procedure.  The Board approved another change stating DHS will perform all eligibility determinations and reviews, rather than the Advantage Administration.  HJR-1046 would bar these rules from taking effect. 

Rules affecting Advantage are proposed revisions at OAC 317:35-17-3, 35-17-4, and 35-17-16.  Although they are slated for disapproval in the bill as filed, all the rules cited may not be included in the final version or the bill may not clear committee.  It is currently being considered by the House Administrative Rules committee.

State agencies; legal services

HB-1223 (McCullough; Sykes)

This is the Legal Services Reform Act which will require state agencies to bid out legal services when the fees are over $20,000.  Requests for Proposal for legal services would have to be published online.  Passed Senate; on House floor for vote on acceptance of Senate Amendments.

State agencies; licenses and permits

HB-1207 (Murphey; Sykes)

Creates the Oklahoma Innovation, Efficiency and Accountability Act of 2011.  Requires state agencies to use the Portal System which must provide links to web application forms for licenses and permits that are issued by state agencies.  In conference committee.

State agencies

HB-1034 (Murphey; Aldridge)

Allowing interagency purchases and professional services contracts to be paid using the P-Card.  Sent to Governor.

State agencies; administrative rules

HB-1044 (Faught; Sykes)

Requires affirmative legislative approval of all state agency rules that involve fee increases or issues related to title 59 of Oklahoma Statutes.  Signed by Governor.

State agencies

HB-1035 (Murphey; Jolley)

This bill provides that each state agency must use the DCS Trip Optimizer system to calculate the vehicle mileage travel reimbursement for a state employee that drives his/her own vehicle for work-related travel.  Any time a mileage claim is submitted for daily travel over 100 miles, it must be accompanied by the calculation from the Trip Optimizer system, and the employee will be reimbursed at the lower of the two calculations.  An exception is made for agencies that do not receive any state appropriated funds. The bill eliminates the current exceptions from use of the Trip Optimizer system for state employees whose work involves travel.   Signed by Governor.  

State government

HB-1086 (Murphey; Jolley)

This bill has to do with state financial operations.  It also requires a website with agency forms on it.  As amended in the Senate, the bill requires a number of central websites where state agency forms and other documents would be posted and specifies the form the forms must be in.  The bill requires other administrative and operational changes on the part of state agencies, emphasizing the use of information technology and central websites to make information available to the public.  In conference committee.

BEP

HB-1634 (Ortega; Shulz)

(Note:  Most blind vendors are not affected by this bill but a few may if they have their own machines in a non-governmental location.)  Lowers annual vending machine fee from $150 to $75.  Signed by Governor.

Social workers

HB-1715 (Peterson; Brinkley)

Amending social worker licensure provisions and requiring national criminal history checks for all licensure candidates.  This bill initially failed in the Senate 37-7 but on a motion to reconsider the vote it passed 44-0.  Signed by Governor.

Personal injury

HB-2128 (Steele; Sykes)

Lowering from $400,000 to $350,000 the cap on noneconomic damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff in a civil action brought for a claim of bodily injury.  The limit on noneconomic (punitive) damages would not apply in cases where gross negligence or intention to harm is proven.  Signed by Governor.

Property tax; local program/school funding

HJR-1002 (Dank; Jim Reynolds)

Sends to a vote of the people a measure that would limit the increases in fair cash value assessments of real property from 5 percent to 2 percent annually.  Filed with Secretary of State.  This bill does not require the Governor’s signature.  The issue will appear next as a State Question to be voted on by the people.

DORMANT  (Some of these bills may be considered next year.)

SB-939 (Jolley; Faught)

This bill would have deemed OSB and OSD to be school districts for purposes of receiving funds through the State Aid formula for public schools.  After attempts to amend the bill on the House floor, House sponsor Rep. Faught asked that the bill be laid over.  It is unlikely that the bill provisions will be revived this session but they could be reconsidered next year.

HB-1208 (Scott Martin; Jolley)

Authorizes the Governor to appoint and replace any gubernatorial appointment on any agency, board, or commission

HB-1220 (McCullough; Crain)

Making the Department of Mental Health the lead agency charged with developing a plan for reorganizing and merging various programs operated by DHS, DMHSAS, the Health Department and other agencies with a focus on preventing family fragmentation. 

HB-2021 (Sullivan; Aldridge)

Allows next of kin access to a patient’s medical records; caps fee for digital form of records at $50.00.