Health and Human Services

Oklahoma Governor Signs Health IT, Other Bills

"Creates the Task Force on Health Information Technology; directs duties of task force; sets membership; provides for co-chairs; directs quorum; provides for travel reimbursement."

by / June 9, 2008 0

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry on Friday finished taking action on bills passed during the 2008 legislative session. In all, 455 bills were sent to the governor for consideration. The governor signed 440 bills into law and vetoed 15 bills, two of which were line-item vetoes. Among the bills signed was SB 1719 which: "Creates the Task Force on Health Information Technology; directs duties of task force; sets membership; provides for co-chairs; directs quorum; provides for travel reimbursement."

Other Bills Signed and Vetoed

Among the bills signed by Henry were:

HB 2713 - Relates to Medicaid coverage; relates to the Oklahoma Medicaid Program Reform Act of 2003; exempts certain persons from qualifying employer;
HB 2703 - Relates to poor persons; establishes Consumer Protection for Wheeled Mobility Act; provides certain requirements on Medicaid claims for wheeled mobility; directs Okla Health Care Authority to promulgate rules;
HB 2704 - Relates to long-term care; enacts the Long-term Care Act; requires State Department of Health to request proposal of long-term care facility for sex offenders who are risk level II or III;
HB 2715 -Relates to costs; relates to court costs; increasing per diem rate for satisfaction of certain fines, fees, and costs;
HB 3112 -Relates to public retirement systems; relates to duties and reports of the Board; permits certain access to date in lieu of report; modifies employer contribution rate;
HB 3229 - Relates to school funding & abstract of assessments; omits certain protested ad valorem taxable value from county abstract; adjusts calculation of State Aid for protested ad valorem taxable value;
HB 3394 - Relates to public buildings and public works by requiring the Department of Central Services to adopt a high-performance certification program for public buildings;
HB 3395 - Directs the State Department of Education to establish a School Health Educators Pilot Program; states purpose of the program; directs the Department to coordinate the program;
SB 1196 - Relates to the State Board of Career and Technology Education by making an appropriation; states purpose; requires budgeting in certain categories and amounts; provides budgetary limitations;
SB 1950 - Relates to criminal procedure; relates to limitations in general; applies certain statute of limitations to certain offense;
SB 1951 - Relates to qualifications of accountants for audits of school districts; prohibits contracting with accountants for more than certain period of time; relates to assessments; creates School Investigative Audit Fund;
SB 1960 - Relates to Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control by creating revolving fund; adds fee for certain plea on misdemeanor marijuana possession; directs court clerk to deposit into revolving fund;
SB 1992 - Relates to crime and punishment; modifies purpose and intent; relates to child stealing;
SB 1202 - Relates to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by making an appropriation; states purpose; prohibits certain budget procedures;
SB 1203 - Relates to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by making an appropriation; states purposes; prohibits certain budget procedures;
SB 1212 - Relates to the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics by making an appropriation; states purpose; requires budgeting in certain categories and amounts; provides budgetary limitations;
SB 1222 - Relates to the Department of Central Services by making an appropriation; states purpose; authorizes certain expenditures; requires budgeting in certain categories and amounts; provides budgetary limitations;
SB 1230 - Relates to the Office of State Finance by making an appropriation; states purpose;
SB 1254 - Relates to Department of Transportation by making appropriations; requiring transfers of certain monies; requires expenditures; limiting the salary of the Director; provides budgetary limitations;
SB 1264 - Relates to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services by making an appropriation; requires performance measures; provides for duties and compensation; limits salary of Commissioner; budgetary limitations;
SB 1280 -

Relates to Office of Juvenile Affairs by making an appropriation; requires performance measures; provides for duties and compensation; limits salary of Director; authorizing certain attorney position; budget limits;
SB 1956 - Relates to tax procedures and sales tax by modifying applicability of certain exclusion from confidentiality requirements; modifies time period during which specified sourcing provision does not apply to certain vendors;
SB 2100 - Relates to Oklahoma Charter Schools Act; Modifies definition; Provides exception and allocation; Directs State Board of Education; Authorizes selection of districts;
SB 2129 - Relates to revenue and taxation; relates to income tax credits for certain venture capital investments; modifies definition; clarifies limitation on credit; modifies requirements relating to borrowed funds for which credits may be claimed.

Vetoed Bills

Gov. Henry also vetoed 10 bills. The veto messages are attached.

SB 1599 regarding traffic offenses - VETO MESSAGE
While this legislation is well-intended and I am supportive of reasonable sanctions for traffic offenses, this bill is vague and duplicative of existing law. In particular, Section 5 of the bill goes too far and could make felons of otherwise innocent people. Under this provision, some drivers could face a mandatory prison term even if they were not at fault in an injury accident. For that reason, I had no choice but to veto this legislation.

SB 1865 regarding Office of Accountability - VETO MESSAGE
While it is critical for the state to conduct regular performance reviews of state agencies and programs, state law already assigns those responsibilities to the Oklahoma Legislature, the Office of State Finance and the State Auditor and Inspector. Creating a new layer of bureaucracy to perform the same duties is duplicative and unnecessarily increases the size and cost of government.

In 2003, the Legislature established a joint zero-based budgeting committee, also known as the Legislative Oversight Committee on State Budget and Performance, to conduct state performance reviews. State law specifically charged it with reviewing a specified number of agencies and programs each year. Rather than establish a new state entity, the Legislature should use the existing zero-based budgeting committee to conduct performance reviews and accountability assessments not already duplicated by other state entities.

SB 1869 regarding EDGE endowment and abolishment of zero-based budgeting - VETO MESSAGE
While I wholeheartedly support the provisions of this legislation giving the EDGE endowment greater flexibility with carryover funds, I cannot support the balance of the legislation because it guts the state's zero-based budgeting law by abolishing the Joint Legislative Committee on Budget Program Oversight. The zero-based budgeting statute was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature in a bipartisan vote in 2003 and can be a critical tool in making government more efficient and effective. While lawmakers have fallen behind on their zero-based budget work and their compliance with the law, abolishing the committee in question does nothing to reform state government or help the taxpayers of Oklahoma.

SB 1024 regarding legal actions - VETO MESSAGE
While I am supportive of the overall intent of this legislation, Section 5 of the bill is constitutionally flawed in that it dispenses unequal treatment to parties that are guaranteed equal treatment under the law. That section would require only one side in a legal action, the plaintiff, to pay their adversary's attorney's fees if they did not prevail in their case. Defendants, however, face no such sanction in a losing cause, providing them with an unjust advantage over the plaintiff. Because this legislation treats equal parties unequally, it is constitutionally infirm.

SB 1880 regarding ACE II Task force - VETO MESSAGE
The ACE II Task Force has completed its work, issued its final report and was terminated by operation of law on December 31, 2007. There is no reason to reconstitute this task force. To do so, particularly for just a six-month period as proposed by this legislation, would be an

unnecessary and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars.

SB 1323 regarding appropriations for DOC - LINE ITEM VETO Sections 1 and 5
(removes program expenditure mandates)
These line items unnecessarily restrict the Department of Corrections' ability to manage its own budget. In order to protect public safety, the DOC should be given the flexibility to direct dollars where they are most needed at any given time.

HB 2286 regarding appropriations for Ethics Commission - LINE ITEM VETO Section 3
(removes mandate for software purchases)
This line item unnecessarily restricts the Ethics Commission's ability to manage its own budget and could, in fact, cost the commission significant funds to modify the referenced software. In order to fulfill its constitutional duties, the commission should be given the flexibility to direct these funds where they are most needed.

HB 2791 regarding trespassing - VETO MESSAGE
While this legislation is well-intended, it contains two critical flaws. First, it makes felons out of otherwise innocent hunters who commit a simple trespass. The current laws on trespass, which provide for a misdemeanor, jail time and steep fines, as well as damages for injury or waste to property, are sufficient. Second, the measure could endanger public health by authorizing the hunting of animals from helicopters and airplanes. It would be best to thoroughly and thoughtfully study this concept in an interim study before enacting a law.

HB 2642 regarding training for home health workers - VETO MESSAGE
While I support increasing the number of home health care workers to assist the elderly and disabled, this legislation reduces the training requirements for such personnel and may inadvertently put patients at risk. We must be very vigilant when it comes to caring for the elderly and infirm, and this legislation falls short of providing necessary safeguards.