Bill eliminating blasphemy as a crime in Oklahoma advances

A House committee, however, fails to pass a measure that would repeal a law that requires legislators to come up with a budget for public schools by April 1.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013
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A House of Representatives committee passed a measure Wednesday repealing a law that makes insulting someone's religion a crime, but failed to support an effort to repeal a law that requires lawmakers to come up with a budget for public schools by April 1.

House Bill 1091, by Rep. Randy Grau, failed to advance out of the House Administrative Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee. It failed on a tie vote of 5-5.

The measure would have repealed a 2003 law that requires the Legislature to pass the budget for kindergarten-through-grade 12 schools no later than April 1, a deadline that was met just once.

Republicans, then in the minority, pushed for the law in 2003. The Fund Education First Act, a self-imposed statute, was met only in 2004, the last year Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. There's no penalty for legislators if the deadline is missed.

The deadline is 10 days earlier than the old deadline for schools to have teacher contracts in place; legislation passed in 2009 moved that deadline to the first Monday in June. Lawmakers adjourn in late May. Public schools make up about one third of the legislatively appropriated budget, or about $2.3 billion of this fiscal year's $6.8 billion budget.

“The whole purpose of having that April 1 budget deadline no longer exists,” he said. “It's impractical to carve out such a large chunk of your budget … and try to handle that totally separately.

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