Week In Review
For the week of Monday, March 16,
1998 - Thursday, March 19, 1998
(Most of the work in the Legislature occurred behind
the scenes in committee as legislators worked toward their next deadline. The
next deadline is March 26th. It requires committees to take action on bills
of the opposite house. Dozens of bills were passed by committee members, sending
them to the next stage of the legislative process, floor action. The Review
highlights the major events of this week.)
Monday, March 16th
- Governor Keating signed the so-called optometry
bill. The legislation would allow optometrists to perform certain kinds of
laser surgery which were recently struck down by a district court. The Governor
said both sides had strong arguments on the issue, but he said he would not
veto a bill if he wasn't assured that he could sustain it. The measure passed
with bipartisan support.
- The Senate met briefly before adjourning to
dedicate several new pieces of artwork for the Senate lounge.
- The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved
HB 2978, legislation which would target out-of-state businesses which try
to give consumers the impression they are local firms. The bill is aimed primarily
at floral delivery firms that have their 800 numbers listed in the phone book
under a fictitious name, usually including the name of the local municipality.
The measure is supposed to classify such advertising as "deceptive."
Tuesday, March 17th
- An official with the Department of Corrections
testified that the truth-in-sentencing law passed year would result in longer
prison terms for most offenders. The DOC official made that statement before
the special joint committee charged with reviewing the new law and recommending
possible changes. The House has already approved a revised truth-in-sentencing
bill that would add a number of new crimes to the act's sentencing matrix,
greatly increasing the cost of its implementation.
- The Senate Finance Committee approved HB 2437
which would apportion interest income from investments held to generate working
capital according to the proportion of such income earned in Oklahoma by a
multi-state business. Senate author Jim Dunlap believes the state will gain
revenue from out-of-state firms that earn interest on their investments in
Oklahoma. Tax commission officials say it is difficult to estimate the cost
of the tax break.
- The Senate Finance Committee approved HB 2833
which would require the notice of the sale of homestead property for tax purposes
be posted on the door of the property at least 30 days prior to a tax deed
being issued. The panel also approved HB2724 which provides for disclosure
of motor vehicle registration information to private investigators who undertake
- The House Science and Technology Committee approved
SB 1024 which would create a 20-member task force to assess the state's system
and resources for providing assistive technology to persons of all ages with
disabilities and to prepare recommendations for other necessary action.
- The House Government Operations and Agency Oversight
Committee approved an amended SB 1174 which would overhaul state purchasing
laws. Among other things, it would increase from $2,500 to $25,000 the acquisition
or contract amounts exempt from competitive bidding procedures.
- The Senate Education Committee approved HB 3086
which would direct the boards of regents to require a quality control review
of the internal audit function for each institution under its governance;
deleting the requirement for the state auditor to perform such reviews.
Wednesday, March 18th
- The Senate Government Operations and Agency
Oversight Committee killed HJR 1080, a measure designed to stop agencies from
"cherry picking" state employees from each other until the problem could be
addressed in the year 2000. Among other things, the legislation would have
directed agencies not to recruit data processing employees from each other.
In other action, the committee approved HB 2680 which extends the deadline
for a report from the Tulsa Race Riot Commission to the year 2000.
- The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Public
Safety and the Judiciary approved a bill designed to give state troopers pay
raises. HB 3160 would cost an estimated $9.2 million to implement. The panel
also approved HB 2915 which would give OSBI personnel a salary increase. Also
passed was HB 2593, legislation which would create within the Department of
Public Safety a Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunication Systems Division.
It is projected that the system would cost $34 million.
- The House Education subcommittee stalled a bill
which would have encouraged public schools to offer drivers education again.
SB 1429 by Sen. Keith Leftwich failed to receive a do-pass recommendation,
stalling on a 12-12 vote. It is expected to be considered again by the full
House Education Committee.
- The House Economic Development Committee approved
SB 786 which would provide incentive dollars for rural development. It also
passed SB 784 and SB 1289 modifying the Quality Jobs Act.
- The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Education
approved the "Hope Scholarship" bill, HJR 1084.
Thursday, March 19th
- The Senate met briefly before adjourning for
the weekend. It will reconvene at 1:30pm Monday.
- The State Ethics Commission ruled that political
campaign contributions cannot be used to pay any part of rent, security deposits
or utilities on a building used both as a campaign headquarters and a personal
residence. The question about the issue was asked by a candidate for public