We just completed our 10th legislative week and it’s hard to believe we’ve already passed the halfway mark on the session calendar.
On Monday [April 10], my first bill was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin and will go into effect later this year on November 1.
Senate Bill 36 is a language clean-up bill to eliminate confusion and bring Oklahoma in line with federal definitions by adding the definition of the term "handgun" to the Firearms Act. It didn’t change any firearm laws, but just updated terms in statute. The bill also adds definitions to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act.
I also authored SB 40, which relates to the felony pointing of a firearm. Currently, the law states that it
is a felony to point a weapon at another person. This bill added the words “except in an act of self-defense.”
The reason for SB 40 is that if you are defending yourself by drawing your weapon against someone who is threatening you and you don't shoot that person, you can be charged with a felony. This has actually happened in Oklahoma.
Representative Bobby Cleveland is carrying the bill in the House.
This bill also added armed security guards and private licensed investigators into the already exempted law enforcement officers who may be called upon to pull their weapons in the course of their job duties.
SB 84, also one of my bills that is over in the House, deals with probationary promotion of third graders who fail the third grade reading test. The bill requires school districts to report certain information so that student progress can be followed, to help evaluate the success of the program which is part of the Reading Sufficiency Act.
An important bill, that is not one of mine, is HB 1693, the A-F school grade bill. It creates a new and improved school accountability system and establishes the framework for one that is more useful and reliable and repeals the old system. The measure is now out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and heading to the Senate floor.
On Monday, the Senate also approved HB 2298, which moves up the sunset date of the zero-emissions (also commonly known as wind) tax credit to July 1, 2017. Many will argue that this tax credit accomplished what was intended, as it helped launch wind energy in Oklahoma, as is evident by the state’s rank of third in the nation for wind power, but with the massive budget hole, it made sense to sunset this credit earlier than originally planned.
Unfortunately we have not passed any kind of cap on the wind tax credits that will remain for another ten years, which means the state will likely be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to the wind industry each year.
The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for review.
I am interested in feedback from my constituents, so if you have any questions or comments, please contact me by phone or email.
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Big Cabin), whose district includes parts of Delaware County, is in his first term of office in the Oklahoma Senate. He may be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 405-521-5561.