CAPITOL In Brief
Measure would stop DHS centers' closure
The House Public Services Committee passed a measure Monday that would stop a plan to close Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and Southern Resource Center in Pauls Valley. House Bill 2053, by House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid, would direct the Department of Human Services to cease the plan's implementation and to take no further action without approval of the Legislature. DHS commissioners in November voted to set an April 30, 2014, deadline for the closure of the Pauls Valley center and an Aug. 31, 2015, deadline for the closure of the Enid institution. The vote occurred just days before the board was voted out of existence when Oklahoma voters approved State Question 765. The committee voted 7-0 to pass HB 2053. It now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will decide whether it will get a hearing by the full House.
Bill opposes national health care
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed House Bill 1918, which is intended to disrupt the Affordable Care Act's position on religious freedom. Under the national health care law, businesses are required to carry medical policies that cover abortion procedures even though it may go against the religious values held by business owners. A business that refuses to carry such coverage will face severe fines. HB 1918, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, would allow businesses claiming religious values to subtract the fines from taxable state income. The committee Monday voted 19-4 to pass HB 1918. It now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will decide whether to grant it a hearing on the House floor.
Orphan care bill wins support
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed a bill that is intended to help orphans. The committee voted 20-1 to pass House Bill 1919, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton. It would allow Oklahomans to deduct contributions to churches if those funds were used by the church for the care of orphaned children. A single person could deduct up to $2,500 in donations a year and married persons filing jointly up to $5,000. The proposed deduction would take effect Jan. 1. HB 1919 now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine if it will advance to the full House.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU