For the week of Monday, March
12 to Thursday, March 15, 2001
| Tuesday | Wednesday
| Thursday | Other News
- With the March 15th deadline for passing
all bills out of their house of origin, there was heavy floor action
in both chambers. Any legislation not acted on by the March 15th deadline
is dead for the session. Among the more than 50 bills acted on by
the Senate Monday:
-HB 1524 by Sen. Kelly Haney contains
$66 million in supplemental funding for various state entities including:
- Heating Assistance -- $25.8 million
($4.8 million for low income heating aid)
($5.5 million for state agency heating bills)
($5 million for college and university heating bills)
($10 million for K- 12 public school heating bills)
($500,000 for career technology heating bills)
- State Health Dept. nursing home
inspectors -- $1.8 million
- Ice storm damage repair (tourism)
-- $1.8 million
- State bond issue payments -- $1
- Health care programs for needy and
elderly -- $21 million
The measure was approved 28-18,
but failed to get the 32 votes necessary to attach the emergency
clause that would make it become law immediately upon the governor's
-SB 752 by Sen. Ben Robinson would
have prohibited smoking in all public buildings, as well as restaurants
and bars, although a provision in the bill would have allowed those
business owners to apply for an exemption with the State Health
Department. Opponents argued businesses should have the right to
decide whether go smoke-free rather instead of having it mandated
by the state. The measure failed 19-27.
Other measure approved by the Senate
-SB 511 by Sen. Keith Leftwich creates
the Telemarketer Restriction Act. Individuals not wanting to receive
telephone solicitations would be able to register with the State
Attorney General's Office. The bill was amended by the author to
exclude sales calls in which a face-to-face interview was arranged
and to add some cleanup language.
-SB 803 by Sen. Mike Morgan creates
the Long-Term Care Reform and Accountability Act. Morgan explained
the bill would add abuse of an elderly "vulnerable adult"
to the list of crimes for which 85 percent of a sentence must be
-SCR 16 by Sen. Cal Hobson recognized
the University of Oklahoma football team for winning the national
-SB 133 by Sen. Bernest Cain would
require child advocacy centers to be full members in good standing
with the National Children's Alliance in order to qualify for state
-SB 661 by Sen. Glenn Coffee relates
to charter schools and deems arbitrators and mediators to be state
employees for the limited purpose of availability to legal representation.
-SB 162 by Sen. Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa
would create the Producer Protection Act. Muegge explained the bill
is designed to protect agricultural producers from unfair contracts
or contracts not negotiated in good faith.
-SB 743 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson would
require uniform reporting standards for reporting criminal offenses
to information systems within the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource
-SB 422 by Sen. Robert Milacek would
allow retiring school district board members to participate in the
state insurance program.
-SJR 3 by Sen. Brad Henry would call
for a statewide vote to authorize the Lt. Gov. to name his or her
successor if he or she assumed the office of the Governor.
- The State House considered more than
30 pieces of legislation on Monday, including a bill that would require
public schools and libraries having Internet access to have a filter
or other method of blocking material that is considered "obscene,
child pornography or harmful to minors." Written by Representative
Bill Graves, HB 1864 was approved after lengthy debate by 92-2. Other
measures approved by the House included:
-HB 1663 by Rep. Frank Davis relates
to use of prison labor on private property, authorizing inmates to
voluntarily perform certain work.
-HB 1035 by Rep. Gary Taylor would enable
county commissioners, in specific situations, to meet outside of the
county courthouse. Those meetings would still be subject to the Open
Meetings Act, and no actual decisions could be made in meetings held
outside the county courthouse.
-HB 1234 by Rep. Jari Askins relates
to computation of cost-of-living adjustments in the Oklahoma Firefighters
Pension and Retirement System. The amendment doesn't allow an adjustment
when the cost-of-living is below 85 percent. The measure passed with
the title stricken.
-HB 1530 by Rep. Barbara Staggs relates
to a minimum salary schedule for state teachers, and provides that
any salary increases would be tied to teacher performance.
-SCR 16 by Rep. Bill Nations congratulates
the Oklahoma Sooners on winning the National Championship.
Tuesday, March 13th
- In a full day of work, the Senate considered
more than 40 bills and resolutions. Among those measures approved:
-SB 574 by Sen. Owen Laughlin that
would require Oklahomans to present a photo I.D. when voting in
order to prevent fraud. The measure passed 31 to 13 after the title
-SB 751 by Sen. Maxine Horner is a
vehicle for recommendations of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission. Horner
explained the bill would create an economic development enterprise
zone in Tulsa's Greewood district, where much of the rioting took
place. The author told members the bill would not be used to insert
language relating to reparations for victims or their families.
-SJR 4 by Sen. Dave Herbert would call
for a vote of the people on a one-cent gasoline tax to improve and
expand passenger railroad service in Oklahoma.
-SB 796 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson would
lower the minimum age for correctional officers from 21 to 18. Wilkerson
amended the bill to add language expediting the process involving
the release of terminally ill prisoners.
-SB 518 by Sen. Robert M. Kerr calls
for a vote of the people on a proposed one-cent sales tax increase
to fund the Educational Capital Improvement Fund.
-SB 402 by Sen. Frank Shurden would
give judges and juries the option of sentencing a convicted sex
offender to chemical castration and would allow for voluntary asexualization.
-SB 437 by Sen. Owen Laughlin would
add felony offenses committed with the use of a firearm to the list
of crimes under the 85-percent sentencing guidelines.
-SB 4 by Sen. Stratton Taylor would
add rural fire protection districts to the list of those exempt
from excise taxes on leased vehicles.
-SB 687 by Sen. Keith Leftwich increases
leave benefits for state employees.
- House members considered approximately
50 bills and resolutions Tuesday, including HB 1177 by Rep. Don Ross,
relating to malicious harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin or disability and eliminates certain time periods
for reporting crimes to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
The measure passed 88-9. Other legislation approved included:
-HB 1008 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman, R-Moore,
which would provide tax-exemption from sales tax for parent-teacher
associations and to certain community-based literacy organizations.
The measure also exempts from taxable income certain health insurance
costs for self-employed individuals. The bill passed 94-0 with the
-HB 1009 by Speaker Larry Adair enacts
the Oklahoma Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Act.
-HB 1138 by Rep. Dan Webb requires
revocation of driving privilege for use of a fraudulent driver license.
-HB 1369 by Rep Joe Sweeden requires
persons adjudicated as delinquent for a sex offense to register
as a sex offender.
-HJR 1032 by Rep. Todd Heitt calls
for a vote of the people on a proposed constitutional amendment
exempting certain agricultural-related property from ad valorem
taxation. The title was stricken.
- Senators considered almost 30 pieces
of legislation on Wednesday, including SJR 1 by Sen. Dave Herbert,
which calls for a vote of the people on right to work. After two hours
of debate, the full Senate approved the measure 31 to 16. However
a provision that would have allowed the state question to be placed
on a special election ballot on August 28 failed to get the two-thirds
vote necessary. Without the special election feature, the right to
work question will not appear on a ballot until the November 2002
general election. SJR 1 now moves to the House for further consideration.
-SJR 10 by Sen. Penny Williams called
for a statewide vote on the elimination of the state sales tax on
groceries. In order to make the change revenue neutral the measure
would increase taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, cigarettes, clothing
and footwear priced at more than $200, lodging priced at more than
$100 per night and on motor vehicles and vessels priced at more
than $50,000. SJR 10 was killed on a 16-24 vote.
Measures approved by the Senate Wednesday
-SB 440 by Sen. Kevin Easley would
eliminate the July 1,2002 startup date for electric deregulation
and creates a blue ribbon task force to make recommendations to
the 2003 Legislature.
-SJR 18 by Sen. Brad Henry calls for
a statewide vote on whether to allow school patrons in local districts
to vote a new five-mill levy for school technology.
-SJR 19 by Henry calls for a vote of
the people on whether to allow a district to increase its bonded
indebtedness to 15 percent of the total property valuation in the
district. The current cap is set at 10 percent.
-SJR 20 by Henry calls for a statewide
vote on whether to allow local districts to vote on additional millage
up to five mills for the building fund.
-SJR 21 by Henry calls for a statewide
vote to change the requirement of a 60 percent "super majority"
for the approval of school bonds to a simple majority.
The State House considered more than
40 pieces of legislation, including HB 1693 by Rep. Russ Roach which
would create the Procedures for Abortion on Minors Act. The bill
requires abortion clinics to notify parents of minors who are seeking
an abortion. The legislation passed 96-1 with the title removed.
Other bills approved by the House Wednesday included:
-HB 1081 by Rep. Richard Phillips,
preempts counties and cities from passing laws regulating use of
cell phones in cars, denies double taxation on roaming charges and
requires use of certain monies for the Oklahoma Statewide Public
Safety 800 MegaHertz communications System. The bill passed 98-1.
-HB 1148 by Rep. Frank Davis clarifies
application of nepotism in state statutes.
-HB 1149 by Davis makes school district
litigation files and investigatory reports confidential.
-HB 1045 by Rep. John Wright prohibits
persons from interfering with the right of another to make an anatomical
-HB 1934 By Rep Opio Toure creates
the Disproportionate Imprisonment Task Force. The task force would
examine why a disproportionate share of minorities and poor people
are imprisoned in Oklahoma.
Thursday, March 15th
- The Senate continued to work through
remaining bills on general order on the final day to pass all bills
out of their house of origin. For the next two weeks Senators will
concentrate on committee work. March 29th is the deadline for committee
action on bills originating from the House. The Senate will reconvene
at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 19th.
- Governor Frank Keating ordered the Office
of State Finance to advance the Oklahoma Health Care authority $11.1
million to head of a funding disaster. This after a supplemental appropriations
bill failed to get the votes necessary to make funds for OHCA and
other state entities available immediately. However Senate President
Pro Tem Stratton Taylor said OHCA confirmed the action would do nothing
to address the current financial crisis because state law prevents
the agency from overspending its budget regardless of a funding advance.
- U.S. Rep. Steve Largent is the first
official candidate for governor in 2002. The former pro football player
filed his first report with the State Ethics Commission this week.
He also said he was considering resigning in the middle of his current
congressional term in order to run for governor, although he said
no final decision has been made.
Republican Jim Denny, father of
two children injured in the Murrah Bombing has also announced his
intentions to run for governor.
Although Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin had been
considering a run at the top state office, last week she announced
she would instead seek re-election as lieutenant governor. Among
those also considering a run for the second spot are former State
Representative Laura Boyd and Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau Wynn.
Republican Representative Tim Pope announced on Tuesday that he
would be a candidate for the labor commissioner post in 2002.
Services were held Tuesday in Rush
Springs for former Lt. Gov. Spencer Bernard who died Friday, March
9th. Besides serving two terms as lieutenant governor, Bernard also
served in the legislature for 18 years.
During ceremonies on Monday, four bronze
relief sculptures representing the western and eastern tribes of
Oklahoma were unveiled. Sculpted by State Senator and full-blood
Seminole artist Kelly Haney, the roundels were the latest effort
of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.,
headed by Senator Charles Ford. The sculptures will be placed at
the entrances of the House and Senate chambers.