The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Special Session Edition

Monday, June 14th to Friday, June 18th, 1999

 

Monday, June 14th
  • At the call of Governor Keating, the Oklahoma Legislature convened in special session to consider a Truth in Sentencing delay, a proposed multi-million dollar higher education bond issue and other budgetary matters. Both houses met briefly and advanced shell bills related to the special session agenda items.

 

Tuesday, June 15th
  • The full Senate shot down a shell bill related to the proposed capital improvements bond issue. SB1X would have been used as a vehicle to enable Southwestern Bell to contribute revenue to the state to help it pay off the bond issue. In exchange for the funds, regulatory changes would be considered for Bell. Senators defeated the legislation on a 16-27 vote, with opponents arguing that the concept ceded to much power to the telephone company.

  • Senators approved legislation which would allow voters to decide whether they wanted to raise the cigarette tax to fund a higher education bond issue. SB 4X passed on a 25-13 vote. A related bond issue measure, SB 3X, was also approved. It would allow the state to use a portion of its tobacco settlement funds to pay off a bond issue.

 

Wednesday, June 16th
  • The Senate approved legislation designed to correct a mistake in a state employee pay raise bill passed by the Legislature in May. SB 8X by Sen. Mike Morgan would make state education employees eligible for the 2 percent raise. Workers at such agencies as the State Department of Vo-tech and the State Department of Education were inadvertently excluded from the original bill.

  • Senators approved shell bills which could ultimately be used to resolve any compromise on the Truth in Sentencing issue.

  • The House approved a shell bill that could be used to enact an indefinite delay of the implementation of HB 1213, the controversial Truth in Sentencing law. House members also advanced another TIS shell bill supported by House Republicans and Governor Keating. HB 1013 has been criticized by others, however, because it would commit hundreds of millions of future dollars to prisons at the expense of education.

  • The House advanced legislation which would enact a one-year delay in the implementation of new curriculum standards approved by the Legislature earlier this year. HB 1012X is designed to counteract a veto of similar legislation by Governor Keating.

  • The House defeated another version of the so-called SW Bell bill. HB 1006X could have been used as a vehicle to allow the telephone company to help pay off the bond issue, but the measure was defeated on a 48-40 vote. Fifty-one votes are needed to pass a bill in the House.

  • House members defeated a measure which would have provided additional funding for the second trial of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols. HB 1010X would have made an appropriation to the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System to fund Nichols' defense, but House members defeated it on a 13-76 vote. Governor Keating had been pushing for the appropriation to enable Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy to conduct a second trial for Nichols, who is already serving a life term in federal prison. In May, legislators took trial money away from both Macy and OIDS, earmarking it for tornado relief efforts instead.

 

Thursday, June 17th
  • House members defeated one of the proposed financing mechanisms for a higher education bond issue. SB 4X would have put a proposed cigarette tax increase to a vote of the people, but the House defeated it on an 18-68 vote after some members raised questions whether a revenue raising measure could originate in the Senate. Despite defeating the cigarette tax bill, House members did approve three other shell bills related to the bond issue, SB 2X, SB 3X and SJR 1X.

  • Governor Keating indicated he might expand the special session call to include several bills not previously mentioned in his executive declaration. At least four measures have been introduced that are not in the latest call. They include HB 1011X by Rep. Frank Davis, a measure which would enact a "speedy trial" law in Oklahoma; HB 1012X by Rep. Loyd Benson, a bill which would delay school curriculum changes for a year; HB 1014X by Rep. Bill Settle, legislation which appropriates money to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; and HB 1015X by Rep. Jari Askins, a bill which would set up a special account to receive the state's first installment payment of the national tobacco settlement. The latter bill was vetoed by the Governor in regular session.

 

Friday, June 18th
  • The Senate approved legislation repealing the controversial Truth in Sentencing law originally approved in 1997 and set to go in effect this July 1st. However, because Republican members blocked the emergency clause, the measure was kept alive on a motion to reconsider.

    In addition to repealing the measure, a companion bill will be considered to enact a community sentencing program in Oklahoma and requires that inmates convicted of 11 violent crimes be forced to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. The crimes include:

-First degree murder

-Robbery with a dangerous weapon

-First degree rape

-First degree arson

-First degree burglary

-Bombing

-Child abuse

-Forcible sodomy

-Child pornography

-Child prostitution

-Lewd molestation of a child

  • The Senate will return June 30th to consider the truth-in-sentencing compromise legislation.



Index