Our first major deadline passed this week in the Legislature. All bills had to pass in committees in their legislative chamber of origin by Feb. 27 in order to advance.
Deadline weeks are brutal. We heard hundreds of bills in committee this week. I’m thankful that all of my bills passed committee, especially my bill that would end surprise medical billing. This procedure happens when an insured goes in for what they believe is a covered medical procedure only to be surprised by a medical bill from an out-of-network health care provider. My bill would require the insurance companies and the medical providers to come up with a payment solution and leave the patient out of the middle. Having this bill advance out of committee means I can bring the final product to the floor to be voted on by the entire membership of the House.
In total, the House passed 469 House Bills, one House Joint Resolution and one Senate Bill in committees. We’ve passed 26 House Bills or House Joint Resolutions and two House Concurrent Resolutions on the House floor so far and concurred on Senate amendments on one bill carried forward from last year. This is out of 1,381 house bills filed for this session.
Because this is the second session of the 57th Legislature, we were able to carry forward bills that didn’t advance all the way through the legislative process last year. We had 859 House bills or resolutions carried forward, some of which may still be considered.
The next two weeks will be very busy as we now have until March 12 to hear all House bills in the House. Then we will receive Senate bills while they consider bills from our chamber.
On Thursday, this week, I was the presiding officer over the House. This is always an exciting job as it gives me experience at running the speaker’s chair. The House chamber has a set of rules I must not only know but also enforce. The most common action I take is calling the House into order. I can’t tell you how many times I am prompted to call the House to order and ask members to quiet down and focus them on the business being presented. Many members like to use their time on the floor to catch up with other members to discuss various pieces of legislation and I do not blame them for this. With 101 members, this makes for a good deal of noise in the chamber and that noise level must be controlled out of respect to those presenting bills, those questioning bills and those in the gallery and on the floor listening to the bills.
Also this week, I was asked to present a speaker’s bill on the floor that will give doctors who agree to practice medicine in rural and underserved areas a tax credit of up to $25,000 per year. This is an attempt to help us attract more physicians to our rural areas where they are much needed.
We also continue to work with the governor’s office on his Medicaid expansion plan. I’m hoping something will be forthcoming on that front in the near future. Oklahomans want to know the details.
In the meantime, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 557-7327.
Marcus McEntire represents Oklahoma House District 50.