By Rep. RICK WEST
Two students with Carl Albert State College’s Aspiring Educators organization visited me at the State Capitol last week along with their Faculty Advisor Susan Hill. This was the students’ first visit to the Capitol. They said they were grateful for the opportunity to get to learn about the legislative process and discuss matters related to education. It was a great treat to take these ladies to lunch and hear their views and answer their questions.
On a legislative note, I was pleasantly surprised last week when Senate Bill 888 was brought to a vote on the House floor. This bill is a holdover from last year. It seeks to tighten regulations for pain management clinics operating in the state as well as for the physicians working in these clinics.
I got involved with this legislation after the death of Hannah McKenzie of Pocola who died in 2017 from a methadone overdose. Authorities said the drug came from someone who received a take-home supply from a clinic in Roland. The person was later charged with Hannah’s death.
Since their daughter’s tragic death, Hannah’s parents, Mark and Shana McKenzie, have been fighting for better regulation over drugs such as Methadone, a Schedule II controlled drug used to treat opioid addiction or for pain management. The drug, however, can cause serious or life-threatening problems for users.
One of the hang-ups with this legislation is over federal privacy regulations that require a person’s permission to be listed on the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). I and other lawmakers also have had to work with medical doctors, osteopaths, veterinarians, ophthalmologists and pharmacists to ensure there are no unintended consequences.
SB888 passed the House last week with the title off meaning the bill will still have to be worked on in conference committee before it can achieve final passage. The McKenzies watched us pass this bill from the House gallery. I know this journey has been excruciating for them, and we still have a long way to go. But I’m encouraged by this latest step.
Also in the House last week, we voted to permanently exempt the state portion of sales tax on groceries. This will not affect any county or municipal tax. Senate Bill 1495 still has to earn final passage in the Senate before going to the governor to be signed into law, but it could be a relief to consumers in the coming days.
We also passed a bill to reduce the amount of tax someone has to pay when purchasing a vehicle. Senate Bill SB 1486 provides that if a sale of a motor vehicle includes a trade-in, gross receipts are to be calculated based on the difference between the value of the trade-in vehicle and the actual sales price of the purchased vehicle. Again, this still has to get final passage in the Senate.
We passed other good legislation last week, but I’ll save some for next time.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday for my legislative update.
As always, if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at email@example.com.
Rick West serves District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of LeFlore County.
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