Oklahoma City finds a lot to like about the 2014 Legislature — but mostly due to bills that failed to pass.
A new report lists four positives for every negative among issues of concern to the city.
Some negatives are consequential, though, including Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman’s refusal to allow a vote on funding for the stalled American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
Passage of a measure to block OKC’s vacant and abandoned building registry, centerpiece of the city’s blight-fighting efforts, gets a grade of “mixed.”
Among the “positives” on the list, many are for bills that died. For instance:
• An effort to pre-empt cities’ authority to regulate app-based “ridesharing” services Uber and Lyft (Senate Bill 1703) failed to move forward. Oklahoma City is drafting regulations for those services, classifying them as “Transportation Network Vehicles.” They compete with traditional taxi and limousine services, which are highly regulated.
• A bill to require cities to allow building in floodplains and flood ways (Senate Bill 1967) died.
• A bill to take away municipal election dates, including Oklahoma City’s December date (Senate Bill 1816), died.
• A “right to farm” measure (House Joint Resolution 1006) died. It may have pre-empted city animal and land-use ordinances.
• A bill to expand carrying weapons on buses (House Bill 1558) failed.
Rated “negative” was a bill that pre-empted the ability of cities to establish their own minimum wage (House Bill 1023). That bill passed and was quickly signed after a coalition of labor groups began an initiative campaign to call a vote on raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma City.
One the plus side:
• The city and its retirees are expected to save money on retiree medical insurance as a result of reforms included in a bill (Senate Bill 1858) signed by the governor in April.
• The city expects to save $2.2 million per year beginning July 1, 2015, on the fee charged by the Oklahoma Tax Commission to process sales tax receipts (House Bill 1875).
Worth Considering: A bill “very narrowly prevented” would have required installation of a security checkpoint at every public entrance to every city building, at a cost of $80,000 per checkpoint.