By Rep. RICK WEST
I got some good news for my local court clerk last week when my House Bill 2972 passed the House Judiciary-Civil Committee. This would allow physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to sign medical exemptions for those called for jury duty. It’s a break for people in rural areas who often don’t have a family physician. Our LeFlore County court clerk said she sees this problem all the time with people who are disabled or too ill to serve but they have to jump through hoops to get exempted.
My House Bill 2991, which would give an excused absence to students involved in a sanctioned 4-H project or activity, passed the Common Education Committee. I got some nice compliments on this bill from 4H students who’ve had to argue their case to their local school board to keep from being counted absent and having it affect their grades. This bill would allow them to make up any coursework missed while they were gone.
Now, I’ll have to work with the majority floor leader to make sure these bills get heard on the House floor. Once they pass there, they’ll move to the Senate to go through the committee process in that chamber.
I had a few bills from last year that never got heard in Senate committee. I’ll have to rewrite those as new legislation and start the process over next year.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to find a bill I can amend on the House floor to address a problem I’ve been made aware of at the CareerTech skill centers at our state correctional facilities. These are places where instructors from CareerTech come to help those incarcerated learn a trade such as welding, mechanics, carpentry or others. The problem is when the prison is on lockdown or closed for weather, the instructors have to take personal leave days because of the way their work week is structured. Right now, they work four 10-hour days, but state law only allows them to get paid for eight-hours if the facility is closed. They end up having to take annual leave to make up the difference. We need to change this for these people who are trying to make sure prisoners have a valid working skill before they exit incarceration.
Now that committee work on House bills is completed, we should have a busy few weeks of hearing bills on the floor. I expect to hear a lot of legislation centered on medical marijuana regulations in the coming week. I’ll talk more on this topic in future columns.
Just a reminder that I’m on radio station KPRV at 7:30 a.m. each Thursday. Listen in for more legislative and district updates.
As always, if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick West serves District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of LeFlore County.