For the week of Monday, March
19 to Thursday, March 22, 2001
| Tuesday | Wednesday
| Thursday | Other News
- Floor sessions were relatively short
this week as lawmakers worked toward the March 29th deadline for committee
action on legislation from the other chamber. Numerous Senate committees
met on Monday to take up legislation originating in the House. Among
the House bills approved by Senate Committees on Monday:
-HB 1092 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson
would lift a state mandate prohibiting wireless communications devices
on school grounds. The bill was amended to include language allowing
districts to suspend for up to one year any student who threatens
to shoot, kill, maim or cause bodily harm to any student or
school employee. After that time period the school board would
examine the case and determine if the student should be allowed
to return to school or remain suspended. The bill would also require
that school districts provide some sort of alternative or in-home
education for students suspended for over five days.
-HB 1728 by Sen. Sam Helton modifies
the time periods for notifications regarding impounded vehicles.
The bill would decrease from five to three the number of days allowed
to notify the owner.
-HB 1239 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
would add the Department of Veterans Affairs to the list of state
agencies authorized to purchase vehicles with state funds.
-HB 1394 by Sen. Dave Herbert authorizes
the use of non-lethal weaponry by jailers.
-HB 1329 by Sen. Rick Littlefield authorizes
the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, boards of county commissioners
and municipal governing bodies to establish reasonable fees
up to $500 for services they provide in the administration of their
responsibilities under the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act.
-HB 1166 by Sen. Rich Littlefield,
committee substitute, makes a number of changes related to the Tar
Creek Superfund site. The bill authorizes the use of county funds
and resources for environmental remediation and provides for permits
for baling waste tires.
Various committees in the State House
considered legislation originating in the Senate. Those winning
-SB 373 By Rep. John Nance would amend
state law to provide, The State Board of Education may grant
an exemption from certification requirements for superintendents
to any district with an unweighted average daily membership over
-SB 128 by Rep. Dale Wells designates
November 11 as Veterans Day in and for the public schools
of the state.
-SB 543 by Rep. David Braddock proposes
taking away much of the liability from farm and ranch owners willing
to allow their land to be used for recreational purposes.
-SB 710 by Rep. Larry Rice relates
to the Board of Juvenile Affairs, creating the position of Judicial
-SB 628 by Rep. David Braddock prevents
court reporters from doing business that may affect the confidentiality
of court documents.
Tuesday, March 20th
- While the Senate continued to consider
House measures in committees, the full Senate considered a $5.3 billion
general appropriation bill, including $96 million in emergency funding.
HB 1564 by Sen. Kelly Haney contained a number of emergency supplemental
After lengthy debate, HB 1564 was approved
31-15. Senate committees also passed several bills on Monday:
-HB 2001 by Sen. Dave Herbert, introduced
as a committee substitute, would eliminate sales tax on articles
of clothing less than $100 for a three-day period in August. While
the sales would be exempt from both state and local sales taxes,
the state would reimburse the local governments for lost revenues.
Total cost to the state including reimbursement of cities and towns
would be approximately $5 million.
-HJR 1001 by Sen. Jim Reynolds would
exempt storm shelters and tornado safe rooms from property tax assessment.
The exemption would only apply to the original owner who installed
the shelter and would be eliminated after the property was sold.
-HB 1336 by Sen. Keith Leftwich provides
a sales tax exemption on housing materials purchased by charitable
organizations involved in housing constructions, such as Habitat
for Humanity, which builds houses for low-income families.
- The House of Representatives also continued
to focus on committee work on Tuesday, although a brief floor session
resulted in the passage of HCR 1014 by Rep Don Ross, authorizing the
striking of an Oklahoma Medal of Distinction for the survivors of
the Tulsa race riot in 1921. Other measures approved in committee
-SB 45 by Rep. Rep. James Dunegan would
allow the police to confiscate any property, including cars and
airplanes, used to commit arson. The measure was amended to exclude
stolen property from confiscation.
-SB 46 by Rep. Ray McCarter would make
assault and battery on a school employee a felony. The measure was
amended to exclude fights between two students from felony prosecution.
-SB 397 by Speaker Larry Adair would
lower the acceptable blood-alcohol content level to 0.08 percent
to comply with new federal laws. The effective date was changed
from November 1 to September 30 to fit the time frame for receiving
- Senators committees continued working
toward the March 29 deadline for acting on House measures. In a brief
floor session, lawmakers approved HB 1092 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson,
which would allow schools to suspend students up to one year for making
violent threats against classmates or school employees. The suspension
could also apply to students creating so-called hit-lists.
Measures winning committee approval on Wednesday included:
-HB 1765 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield,
increases the penalties for misdemeanor assault on a school employee
or student and makes aggravated assault a felony. The bill only
applies to assaults of school employees while they are in the performance
of duties related to school or school activities.
-HB 1308 by Sen. Herb Rozell, introduced
as a committee substitute, establishes a new digital driver license
program within the Department of Public Safety, which would become
fully effective in 2004. The bill also includes language creating
a voluntary fingerprint identification program for children.
-HB 1361 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols authorizes
courts to require convicted meth manufacturers to reimburse OSBI
for the costs associated with the meth lab cleanup.
-HB 1593 by Sen. Kelly Haney, which
is a vehicle to be used for pay raises for Department of Corrections
personnel. The enacting clause was stricken.
-HB 1351 by Sen. Glenn Coffee amends
the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act to require the notification
of local law enforcement before the offender moves.
-HB 1823 by Sen. Gilmer Capps would
create the Oklahoma Zero-Based Budgeting Act. The Act would require
that the budgets of all state agencies be appropriated from nothing.
Currently, most agencies begin with a base budget, generally the
previous fiscal years budget, and then those agencies present
requests for increases to the legislature. With zero-based budgeting,
an agency would be required to justify all of its expenses. The
enacting clause was stricken.
-HB 1374 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson authorizes
the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to investigate computer
crimes and makes it a felony for an individual to forge his or her
- On Wednesday, the State House of Representatives
approved the $5.3 billion general appropriations bill already approved
by the Senate. Shortly after the 58-42 vote, Governor Keating announced
that he would sign the bill, but that he would likely line-item veto
some items. Other legislation approved in various House committees
-SB 25 by Rep. Bill Nations provides
a sales tax exemption on admission for entertainment or sports events
at a public institution of higher education.
-SB 488 by Rep. Randall Erwin provides
a sales tax holiday on clothing and footwear purchases of up to $100
to be held the first weekend in August.
-SB 612 by Rep Joe Hutchison would allow
the Grand River Dam Authority to issue bonds in hopes of purchasing
fireboats to protect houses on state lakes.
Thursday, March 22th
- After a brief floor session, Senate
committees continued to consider legislation from the State House
in anticipation of the March 29th deadline for action on those bills.
The Senate will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 26th.
- A new poll conducted jointly by the
Oklahoman and the University of Oklahoma found that more than two-thirds
of Oklahomans think the state should have a lottery, and more than
three-fourths favor a lottery if the funds would be earmarked for
education. Although 60 percent of voters rejected a state lottery
question in 1994, the new poll finds:
-Sixty-eight percent favor a state
lottery to run money
-Seventy-six percent said they would support a lottery if its revenues
were earmarked for education
-Only 22 percent said they think that lotteries are immoral.
A proposal calling for a vote on a
state lottery to raise funds for education died in the Senate Appropriations
Committee earlier this session. Opponents expressed concern that
a lottery would hurt low-income Oklahomans.
- Citing questionable billings to the
Department of Human Services, Senator Kevin Easley has called for
the suspension of a marriage-initiative contract with an Oklahoma
City-based public relations firm. Among the items Easley questioned:
- Viewing a video tape of a potential
speaker for a marriage conference -- $437.50
- Crowd building for
a media event in Oklahoma City -- $93.75
- Media calls to encourage coverage of OKC event -- $146.20
- Read the book A Case for Marriage -- $732.50
- Wrote a book report on A Case for Marriage -- $137.50
Mary Myrick, head of Public Strategies,
an Oklahoma City-based public relations firm, was the only bidder
on the one-year $400,00 contract awarded last October.
- Although spokesmen for the Governors
office initially played down the possibility of first lady Cathy Keating
running for Congress in 2002, Mrs. Keating now says she is giving
it serious consideration, saying it would depend on what 1st District
Congressman Steve Largent decides to do. The former professional football
player has already announced that he will run for Governor in 2002,
and may resign before his term expires to concentrate on the election.
If he does resign, a special election would be held to fill the remaining
term. Others also mentioned as possible candidates for the U.S. House
seat include State Sen. Scott Pruitt, Rep. John Sullivan, Republican
Party Chairman Steve Edwards, Former Tulsa City council member Dewey
Bartlett Jr., Gov. Keating chief of staff Howard Barnett, former University
of Tulsa football coach Dave Rader, and former Cherokee Nation principal
chief Ross Swimmer.