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5.14.23 – Stillwater News Press –

One bill approved by the House this week was House Bill 1590, which would update the state’s 911 system in the hope of saving more lives.

With just a few weeks remaining in the regular legislative session, budget negotiations have ramped up significantly.

The Legislature has until May 26 to send a general appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1, to the governor’s desk. Passing a state budget is the only responsibility required of the Legislature under the Oklahoma Constitution.

However, because education typically receives the lion’s share of the state budget, we can’t finalize anything until we have an education agreement. Progress was made this week, which I’m hopeful for, but a portion of the House’s proposal was recently rejected, so we still have a we still have a way to go on negotiations.

With only two more weeks left in the regular session, we’ll keep trying to reach an agreement so we can avoid the possibility of entering into a special session this summer.

While we’re still working on our budget bills, we also continue to consider Senate amendments to House bills. One bill approved by the House this week was House Bill 1590, which would update the state’s 911 system in the hope of saving more lives.

HB1590 creates the Haiden Fleming Memorial Act, named for a 22-year-old Oklahoman who died after suffering a cardiac incident.

Many rural areas or people living along a county line may face service delays while 911 calls are sent to different call centers as the system tries to locate their address. That was unfortunately the case for Haiden, who lived north of Peggs, just inside Mayes County.

The bill was initially requested by the state’s 911 Commission, who said the 911 system was last updated in 1975.

The House author, Rep. Jim Grego, held an interim study on the issue last year, where members of the Legislature heard from Oklahomans whose children faced life-threatening situations while 911 calls were rerouted and outdated maps slowed down ambulance drivers.

HB1590 provides for infrastructure and computer upgrades and also requires mandatory CPR training for emergency telecommunicators.

In addition, the bill will set a standard fee charged for the service so it is uniform across the state. Eligible governing bodies are to be given a flat rate of $3,000 per month per Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The updated fees will help cover the cost of confirming all addresses and pinpointing accuracy so people can get the assistance they need.

While this bill will raise fees, it’s critical that we fund 911 services so we can make sure addresses are correct in the system when first responders are reacting in a life-and-death situation.

I’ve been working with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management on fixing some addresses in Langston that show up as Coyle, which has resulted in some first responders arriving at the wrong location.

Updating our system will help save lives, and I was proud to vote in favor of this measure. The bill is currently on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature.

I’ll provide another update on the budget negotiation and education agreement discussions in my next column. As always, please reach out to my office at 405-557-7304 or john.talley@okhouse.gov with any questions or concerns.

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.