Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February
23, 1998 - Thursday, February 26, 1998
(Most of the work in the Legislature occurred on
the floors of the House and Senate. The next deadline, March 12th, requires
lawmakers to pass bills out of their house of origin.)
Monday, February 23rd
- The House approved a one-year moratorium on
new licenses for hog feeding operations. House Resolution 1093 would prohibit
the State Agriculture Department from authorizing or processing licenses for
new facilities. The measure does not address poultry producers because they
currently are not licensed by the state. The moratorium is designed to slow
the growth of animal feeding operations, giving legislators time to consider
stricter regulations for both the hog and poultry industries.
- On a related note, Land O'Lakes announced it
had abandoned plans to build hog farms near a Methodist church camp near Hinton.
Also, it was reported that a spill of hog effluent in Major County was much
larger than initially thought. According to the State Agriculture Department,
18,000 gallons of effluent leaked from an irrigation system at Pig Improvement
Company, nine times more than originally reported by the hog operation.
- The Senate approved a bill which would raise
the minimum purchase amount for the Central Purchasing Act from $5,000 to
$25,000. The legislation by Senator Larry Dickerson is designed to save money
by reducing the amount of paperwork required for small purchases.
- The Senate approved SB 1215 which would prohibit
the use, possession or sale of devices that access wireless services without
the consent of the provider. The legislation is designed to crack down on
people who use devices known as "zappers" to intercept account numbers and
charge costs to unsuspecting consumers.
- The House approved HB 2570 which would allow
judges to order HIV tests for those accused of sex crimes upon their initial
- The House approved HB 2863 which would enable
public universities and researchers to market new technology.
Tuesday, February 24th
- The Senate gave final legislative approval to
SB 1089, legislation which would help offset a recent health insurance premium
increase for state employees. Among other things, the bill expresses intent
to add an additional $35.9 million to the reserves of the Oklahoma State and
Education Employees Group Insurance Board (OSEEGIB), rescind a freeze that
locked state employees to their present insurance carrier and allow participating
health insurers to lower their rates. The legislation is now awaiting the
- The Senate approved SB 1167, the bill containing
Governor Keating's tax cut program. The measure now goes to the House for
consideration. It must ultimately return to the Senate because the title is
- The Senate approved a bill which would make
it a misdemeanor to broadcast information received from telephone calls made
by hostage takers while the hostage crisis was still in progress. SB 1105
is aimed at radio and television stations.
- The Senate approved SB 800 by Senator Kathleen
Wilcoxsen. The bill would prohibit beer sales from midnight to 6 A.M.
- The Senate approved bills which would modify
the Quality Jobs program in an effort to boost per capita income in Oklahoma.
SB 1289 would establish a minimum salary threshold for new Quality Job applicants
in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties. Companies would have to pay 80% of their employees
at least $28,800. SB 782 makes it easier for airlines locating their headquarters
and maintenance centers here to qualify for the program.
- The Senate approved SB 786, legislation designed
to improve rural infrastructures.
- The House approved HB 2574, a bill that would
bar the switching of a customer's telephone service from one provider to another
without the customers written approval. It is designed to crack down on the
practice of "slamming" where consumers are switched without their knowledge
or their consent.
- The House passed a "convenant" marriage bill
which would give discount marriage licenses to couples who were willing to
meet certain requirements such as premarital counseling.
- The House approved legislation designed to clear
the way for transferring $50 million in rainy day funds to the Oklahoma Teachers
Wednesday, February 25th
- Senator Bill Gustafson announced his retirement.
The El Reno Republican has served in the Senate since 1990. Gustafson, who
currently holds the post of Senate Minority Leader, will leave after the 1998
- Governor Keating vetoed SB 1089, legislation
that would have begun the process of pumping an additional $35.9 million into
the reserves of the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance
Board (OSEEGIB). The measure would have helped offset a recent premium increase
levied against state employees, state retirees and teachers. The legislation
would also have rescinded a freeze that locked state employees to their present
insurance carrier and allowed participating health insurers to lower their
rates. It was the Governor's first veto of the '98 session.
- The Senate approved a 7.5 percent pay increase
for state employees. SB 1293 by Senator Larry Dickerson would provide a salary
boost for some 40,000 state employees. The legislation now goes to the House
for consideration. The final pay raise amount will probably be determined
later in the session during budget negotiations.
- The Senate also approved a pay raise program
for school teachers. SB 775 by Senator Darryl Roberts would cost approximately
$99 million. Like the employee pay raise, its fate will ultimately be decided
in later budget negotiations.
- The Senate approved a bill to create a freestanding,
four-year university in Tulsa. Senator Lewis Long wants to use funds currently
earmarked for Rogers University to finance the new school. According to a
Senate analysis, Rogers currently receives $18.3 million, the third largest
allocation of the state's 11 regional universities. Rogers also has the third
highest enrollment of the regional schools.
- The Senate defeated SB 767, a measure that would
have prohibited people under the age of 18 from riding in the back of pickup
- The House voted to change the current Rogers
University structure in Tulsa and create a freestanding, four-year university
in Claremore. Under Rep. Don Ross' bill, Rogers University would revert to
a four-school consortium and would be called Tulsa State University. Ross
says his bill is designed to protect the Langston University presence in Tulsa.
- The House approved HB 3119, legislation which
would grant volunteer firefighters the same status as National Guard members.
The bill would give firefighters a leave of absence from work without the
loss of "company status" on their job.
Thursday, February 26th
- The Senate attempted to override Governor Keating's
veto of SB 1089. The override attempt was unsuccessful.
- The Senate Energy, Environmental Resources and
Regulatory Affairs Committee approved HR 1093 instituting a one-year moratorium
on the hog industry.