For the week of Monday, March
26 to Thursday, March 29, 2001
| Tuesday | Wednesday
| Thursday | Other News
- The Senate continued to work toward
the March 29th deadline for voting on bills originating in the House
of Representatives. Though a brief floor session was held, the focus
remained on committee action. Among the legislation winning approval
by Senate committees:
-HB 1291 by Sen. Penny Williams eliminates
straight-party voting and modifies the process for providing electors.
The bill provides that one nominee for presidential elector shall
be selected from each congressional district and two nominees chosen
at large. The bill also provides that presidential electors selected
from congressional districts shall reside in the congressional district
from which they are selected.
-HB 1767 by Sen. Jim Dunlap would create
the Oklahoma Partnership for School readiness act. The bill would
create a 29-member board to promote early childhood education and
function as a statewide public-private early childhood partnership.
-HB 1253 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
require notification of criminal history information about school
employees and would require the filing of a criminal history record
for teacher licensure.
-HB 1662 by Sen. Glenn Coffee relates
to technology and establishes a state portal system. The legislation
would provide uniformity to state agency web sites and allow agencies
to charge a convenience fee for online transactions.
-HB 1409 by Sen. Frank Shurden directs
the Department of Public Safety to provide alternate testing to
those who cannot read or face a language barrier. The bill also
states those applying for a driver's license need only to be able
to "interpret," not "read" highway signs.
-HB 1034 by Sen. Bruce Price would
allow boards of county commissioners to prohibit the erection of
communication towers on unincorporated land in the county.
- Various committees in the State House
considered legislation originating in the Senate. Those winning approval
-SB 412 by Rep. Randall Erwin would change
the Oklahoma Public employee Retirement System (OPERS) from a 90-year
system to an 80-year system. Under current law, state employees hired
after July 1, 1992 can retire when their age and their years of service
total 90. SB 412 would allow those employees to retire when their
age and years of service total 80. State Employees hired before 1992
are already under the 80-year system.
-SB 421 by Rep. Randall Erwin would make
a new provision in the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement
System allowing firefighters and their families to receive benefits
when the firefighters contract infectious diseases. Under an amendment
offered in the committee, the list of infectious diseases was narrowed
to hepatitis, HIV, meningitis and tuberculosis.
-SB 401 by Rep. J.T. Stites would allow
OPERS to pay death benefits up to $10,000 without those funds being
subject to probate.
-SB 743 by Rep. Terry Ingmire would create
a uniform reporting standard to be used by all criminal justice information
systems within the state for all data relating to arrests, charges,
custody, adjudication, conviction and disposition of criminal or juvenile
-SB 384 by Rep. Clay Pope relates to
the Public Warehouse and Commodity Indemnity Act. The bill clarifies
language relating to electronic documents and gives them the same
legal status as paper documents.
Tuesday, March 27th
- Various Senate committees continued
to deliberate bills originating in the House of Representatives, although
a brief floor session resulted in passage of HRC 1014 by Sen. Maxine
Horner, authorizing a Medal of Distinction for survivors of the Tulsa
Race riot of 1921. The measure was brought directly to the calendar
and adopted. Other measures approved by Senate committees Tuesday
-HB 1203 by Sen. Angela Monson contains
provisions to cut the personal income tax and eliminate the sales
tax on groceries and nonprescription drugs, as well as eliminating
the franchise tax for companies earning less than $30,000 gross
-HB 1185 by Sen. Glenn Coffee, which
would extend the definition of a deprived child in Oklahoma statutes
to include an unborn viable child whose mother tests positive to
alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance if the health or life
of the unborn viable child is determined to be at risk due to the
-HB 1062 by Sen. James Williamson would
set out a state policy in statute giving non-custodial parents priority
over other relatives and foster care when determining the placement
-HJR 1008 by Sen. Frank Shurden would
send to a vote of the people a proposal to implement a one-and-a-half
percent sales tax on the sale of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching
equipment. The legislation is designed to address funding shortfalls
for Wildlife Conservation Commission programs as well as enhancing
-HJR 1025 by Sen. Jim Maddox calls
for a vote of the people on a proposal to allow counties to vote
to approve up to five additional mills to be dedicated for an economic
-HB 1097 would allow voters in unincorporated
areas in a county to vote on whether to implement a 5 percent lodging
tax. The bill would only apply to counties with a population of
200,000 or more.
-HJR 1028 by Sen. Maxine Horner enacts
the Distressed Areas Restoration and Development Act of 2001, designed
to provide tax incentives for economic development in the Greenwood
district in Tulsa, which was destroyed during the Tulsa Race Riot
During Tuesday's session, the House
of Representatives approved SB 488 by Rep. Randall Erwin, which
would create a sales tax holiday on clothing and footwear. Work
also continued in various house committees on Tuesday. Senate Bills
-SB 796 by Rep. Kenneth Corn. Originally
would have established a new minimum age of 18 for corrections employees,
however the bill was amended in committee to restore the minimum
age to 21.
-SB 568 by Rep. Opio Toure would raise
auto insurance liability limits. Currently, liability covers up
to $10,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident,
$20,000 for two persons in an accident and $10,000 for destruction
of property, a formula referred to as ""0-20-10.""
Under this legislation the new limits would be $25,000 for injury
to one person, $50,000 for two persons, and $25,000 for property,
making the new formula 25-50-25.
-SB 711 by Rep. Jari Askins allows
women over the age of 40 to receive mammography screening at no
charge. The bill passed with the title stricken.
-SB 733 by Rep. Askins requires all
insurance contracts to provide colon cancer screening services.
The bill was amended to delete mandated clinical trials.
-SB 716 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman raises
the age of consent between teachers and students to 18 years of
age, amended to stipulate that the teacher must be from the same
school as the student.
- In a brief floor session, the Senate
unanimously approved HB 1637 by Sen. Ted Fisher that would provide
a sales tax exemption for supplies purchased for small museums throughout
the state. The bill would only apply to museums that were open at
least 120 days a year with regular posted hours. Senate committees
continued working toward the March 29 deadline for acting on House
measures. Measures winning committee approval on Wednesday included:
-HB 1177 by Sen. Bernest Cain relates
to hate crimes and malicious harassment based on race, color, religion,
ancestry, national origin or disability. The bill would eliminate
a 72-hour time period for reporting racial profiling crimes to OSBI.
The bill would require agencies to report those crimes monthly.
-HB 1351 by Sen. Glenn Coffee would
toughen the Sex Offenders Registration Act by increasing the penalties
for failure to comply and requiring notice be given to law enforcement
officials prior to moving.
-HB 1266 Sen. Jerry Smith would authorize
the forfeiture of computer equipment for cases in which minors were
solicited for sex over the Internet. The bill would also raise the
fines and increase the prison sentence for such crimes.
-HB 1007 by Sen. Billy Mickle would
establish the Oklahoma Aeronautics and Space Commission as a state
agency separate from the Department of Transportation.
-HB 1072 by Sen. Angela Monson requests
the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma to establish
a cancer treatment and research program. The project requires a
$25 million commitment from the state to begin a $60 million endowment.
-HB 1073 by Sen. Jim Dunlap would exempt
sheriffs from paying for the medical care of inmates for self-inflected
injuries. Under the provisions of the bill, inmates would be required
to pay hospitals for their own medical care for self-inflected wounds
after their release from jail.
-HB 1189 By Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
would allow members of the Teachers' Retirement System to come back
into the system after an absence of up to three years.
On Wednesday, the House Small Business
committee approved SJR 1 by Rep. Jack Begley. The legislation was
amended to allow a special election to be called on right to work
in August 14 of this year, rather than on placing the state question
on the General Election ballot in November 2002. Other legislation
approved in various House committees Wednesday included:
-SB 738 by Rep. Barbara Staggs provides
for unannounced inspections of residential care homes by the Oklahoma
State Department of Health .
-SB 674 by Rep. Kenneth Corn creates
the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program, which allows for a
15 percent rebate on documented expenditures made in Oklahoma directly
attributable to film or television production in the state.
-SB 501 by Rep. Lloyd Fields, which
was introduced as a committee sub, modifies the assessment of tax
on alcoholic beverages in Oklahoma. Fields said all language to
remove the "liquor by the drink" tax and replace it with
a tax at the package store level was removed in the committee substitute.
CS SB 501 would remove the $1 stamp on liquor at the restaurant
level and replace the lost revenue with an increase to 13.5 percent
on drinks at the restaurant level.
Thursday, March 29th
- After a brief floor session, Senate
committees continued to consider legislation from the State House.
This marked the final day for committee consideration of bills from
the opposite chamber. The Senate will reconvene at 10:30 p.m. on Monday,
- Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor
unveiled a proposal calling for a statewide vote on whether Oklahoma
should replace its current tax system with the one currently used
by Texas, resulting in the elimination of state income tax and the
sales tax on groceries. Senator Taylor has asked economists at OU
and OSU to do a study of the Texas system, and what would be entailed
if Oklahoma were to adopt it. That report when then be presented to
lawmakers, after which legislation would be drafted to allow for a
statewide vote and make the necessary statutory changes.
Governor Keating signed the $5.3 billion
dollar General Appropriations Bill which included emergency funding
for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, as funds to help low-income
Oklahomans pay for skyrocketing heating costs. However the Governor
line-item vetoed some $300 million in various agency appropriations.
Items vetoed in HB 1564 included:
- Governor's Office -- $2.8 million
- House of Representatives -- $18.7
- Senate -- $13.1 million
- Oklahoma Educational Television
Authority -- $6.7 million
- Oklahoma National Guard armory roof
repairs -- $4 million
- Oklahoma Arts Council -- $4.1 million
- State Auditor -- $6.2 million
- State Office of Central Services
-- $14.9 million
- State Election Board -- $7.5 million
- Oklahoma Tax Commission -- $51.2
- Oklahoma Department of Commerce
-- $20.3 million
- Department of Human Services --
- Oklahoma Department of Agriculture
-- $26.2 million
- Oklahoma Department of Tourism and
Recreation -- $29.9 million
- Oklahoma Water Resources Board --
- Oklahoma Historical Society -- $9.5