Capitol report: Marijuana and reform issues signed by governor

Posted on: 3/15/19


The First Session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature convened on Feb. 4 and adjourns May 31.  March 14 was the deadline for bills and resolutions to be voted from the floor of the house of introduction. Measures that passed in the first house will cross over to the second for consideration. The next deadline is April 11 for a bill to pass from committee of the opposite house and April 19 for bills to pass from appropriations committees. If a bill does not advance, it may be considered in the 2020 session or amended into another bill provided the subject was not voted down.  

Marijuana provisions: The Oklahoma Senate passed HB 2612, known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, or the Unity Bill on Monday. The Unity Bill, which puts various regulations in place, was signed by the governor. HB 2612 was a bipartisan effort to implement State Question 788 as it was passed by voters in June. Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, the Senate author, co-chaired a working group with House Majority Floor Leader John Echols, R-Oklahoma City. The panel met more than a dozen times, hearing from medical marijuana advocates and industry members, as well as representatives of the health and business community. OHA worked in a coalition of health care and business groups to address concerns such as the ability of the employer to drug test employees in safety sensitive positions.  

Direct appointment bills signed by governor: Legislation changing the accountability process for the five largest state agencies was signed into law this week. Among the five state agencies affected are the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (SB 456) and the Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (HB 2483). Both were signed by the governor on March 13 and the provisions became effective immediately, including:
  • The governor has the authority to hire and fire the agency director with Senate confirmation.
  • State agencies would maintain governing boards, but board members will serve at will by their appointing authority.
  • The governor would appoint a majority of the board members, and the House and Senate would gain appointment seats on the boards.
  • The House and Senate would be able to remove agency directors with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
The immediate effect is that agency board meetings have been cancelled for March. Agency rules are required to be submitted to the Legislature by April 1, however the legislation terminated the services of current sitting board members. The result is that until at least five board members are appointed to constitute quorum, there are no boards in place with the authority to vote on the agency rules. The deputy secretary of state said that the state is taking a cautionary approach and preparing that these boards will have to be immediately reappointed – or have new people appointed. As of today, there are four new governor appointees to OHCA and two to ODMHSAS. The governor said in a statement that appointments will come soon and has committed that all current appointees will be able to interview for the position they hold.  

Status of bills supported by OHA pass to opposite house for action: HB 1089, SHOPP, extends the sunset date from Dec. 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2025; SB 704, provides protection for living organ donors under the Oklahoma Living Organ Donor Fairness Act, by providing fairness in treatment by life insurance carriers; HB 2285, updates the duties of the Hospital Advisory Council; HB 2334, creates Maternal Mortality Review Committee; HB 2351, creates the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which provides a framework and process for multi-state medical licenses of physicians; HB 2631, increases workers’ compensation fee schedule by 3 percent for physicians and hospitals; SB 86, expands definitions of medical care providers related to aggravated assault and battery with a firearm beyond emergency care providers; SB 575, modifies the statute for parental consent for the treatment of minors to allow for written consent for a telemedicine encounter, thereby removing a barrier for implementation of school-based telemedicine by requiring the parent to be present during the visit; and, SB 848, addresses the opioid epidemic while advocating for physicians to determine patient care in post-surgical situations in the prescribing of opioids.

Status of bills supported by OHA – did not advance: The following legislation may be considered in the 2020 legislative session: HB 2288, removes loopholes in the Oklahoma Clean Indoor Air Act; and, HB 2460, removes smokers as a protected class in employment law.

Status of bills opposed by OHA: HB 1750/SB 499, creates the Hospital District Act, OHA is working with the bill’s proponents – concerns include conflict with SHOPP, passed to opposite house; HB 2041, creates new licensure of Radiologic Technologists, failed deadline on House floor; HJR 1017, proposes vote of the people to change designation of Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, passed House – to Senate.

Status of scope of practice bills: SB 801, changes the current requirement that a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist work under the supervision of a medical doctor, osteopathic physician or dentist to work “in collaboration with” a physician. A floor amendment was offered by the CRNAs that compels a hospital to choose the traditional “supervision” model that currently exists or a “collaboration” model that would not require supervision by a physician. SB 801 failed the deadline for a Senate floor hearing – it may be considered in the 2020 session; and, SB 839, allows prescriptive authority for Certified Nurse Practitioners who have obtained a waiver of supervision from the State Board of Nursing, failed the deadline for a hearing in Senate committee and may be considered in the 2020 session.

To view OHA’s current bill tracking list, click here. For more information about specific legislation, email Shelly Bush, education & government relations assistant, bush@okoha.com. (Lynne White)

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