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Oklahoma Legislature wants to sign off on any federal funds to state agencies
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Oklahoma Legislature wants to sign off on any federal funds to state agencies

The plan affecting state agencies gets a House panel’s nod.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — State agencies would have to get advance legislative approval to apply for or receive federal funds under a measure passed Wednesday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ committee on state and federal relations.

House Bill 1727, by Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, also would forbid any “state agency, entity or political subdivision” from acting on “any federal request or action of any kind not expressly provided for in the United States Constitution.”

First-year Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, questioned Moore closely on the feasibility of the proposal.

“I agree with the sentiment,” said Lepak, “but I’m trying to think of the practicalities of this going forward.”

Moore said his bill probably would require the various appropriations subcommittees to meet frequently throughout the year to handle agency requests. He said it would probably mean more work for the state Attorney General’s Office, too.

“This will probably be a new paradigm,” said Moore.

He said he doesn’t think his proposal would result in less federal money for the state government, but he expressed dismay that a third to a half of state revenue is from federal sources, some of which “might be for things we weren’t in favor of doing anyway. The federal government has been in our business way too long and way too deep,” he said.

HB 1727 is now eligible for a vote of the full House.

Also on Wednesday: Minor political parties would have much easier access to the ballot under a constitutional amendment approved by the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

HB 2181, by Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, would greatly reduce the number of petition signatures needed to put a political party on the ballot. Hickman said current requirements, which are among the most stringent in the country, have caused “people to register as Democrats who are not really Democrats and people to register as Republicans who are not really Republicans.”

Other reform measures passed by the committee include full disclosure of donors and third-party expenditures on state elections and online voter registration.

Also advancing from committee were House Joint Resolution 1019 and HJR 1020, by Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City.

HJR 1019 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would have candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run as a single ticket.

HJR 1020 would fulfill the state constitutional requirement to put before the voters at least once every 20 years a call for a constitutional convention. Such a call has not actually been on a statewide ballot since 1970. In 1994, voters rejected a state question that would have eliminated the requirement.

An attempt to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour failed 2-7 in the Economic Development Committee, with only Democrats Kevin Matthews of Tulsa and Brian Renegar of McAlester in favor.

Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

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