The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, April 9 to Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Other News


Monday, April 9th

  • With seven weeks remaining in session, lawmakers continue to focus on meeting the April 19th deadline for third reading for bills from the opposite chamber. Among the more than thirty bills acted on by the Full Senate, those receiving approval included:

    -HB 1422 by Sen. Mark Snyder. The bill it self relates to the Viatical Settlement Act and the Life Settlement Act, but the legislation was successfully amended by Sen. Jim Dunlap to insert the provisions of SB 770, by Sen. Scott Pruitt which would replace the current workers' comp system with an administrative system that uses magistrates at the local level to settle workers' comp cases. However, an amendment to restore the title was tabled.

    -HB 1308 by Sen. Herb Rozell increases a number of fees related to driver licenses and state identification cards to help fund the transition to a digital driver license by 2004 in Oklahoma. The measure also establishes a voluntary fingerprint identification program for children.

    -HB 1798 by Sen. Bruce Price calls for a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment relating to an exemption from ad valorem taxes for manufacturing concerns. The bill would delete a current qualification that a facility must be unoccupied for 12 months prior to acquisition.

    -HB 1798 by Sen. Paul Mueggee expands a current sales tax exemption on agriculture producers for products sold at the farm to include roadside stands and other sales not directly to businesses.

    -HB 1709 by Sen. Bruce Price establishes a $5-per-ton tax credit on the purchase of poultry litter.

    -HB 1897 by Sen. Ben Robinson creates the Oklahoma Low Cost Prescription and Non Prescription Assistance Program, a voucher system to provide prescription drugs for the elderly.

    -HB 1124 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, relates to sexual assault and authorizes approval of payments by assistant district attorney, and increases the amounts paid for exams and medications. The bill was amended to state that any Oklahoma court of competent jurisdiction where venue is proper for collection of child support has the power to enforce an order for child support and punish individuals for failure to comply.

    -HB 1336 by Sen. Keith Leftwich extends a sales tax exemption on construction materials purchased by specified non-profit entities for the construction of homes for low-income families. The bill was amended to add an exemption for sales of trees or other plants to be placed on public property.

    Governor Keating signed the following Senate measures on Monday:

    -SB 110 by Sen. Billy Mickle and Rep. Randall Erwin, requires agencies to provide employee benefit informational meeting and invite certain vendors. However the bill was recalled by SCR 20.

    -SB 130 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Loyd Benson makes language in the Governmental Tort Claims Act gender neutral.

  • Likewise, attention in the House was focused on heavy floor action, with the chamber considering more than 50 pieces of legislation. Among those approved on Monday:

    -SB 168 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman relates to the Reading Sufficiency Act by requiring assessments be given to kindergarten students in order to give educators a better idea of what reading levels children possess at that age. The measure passed on a motion to reconsider the bill after being defeated last week. Three amendments were added, including one exempting special education students from the assessments. Another amendment allows for a teacher's aid to assist in the pre-test screening of students aimed at cutting the cost of the program in half. The third amendment requires the Oklahoma Department of Education to prepare the data from the program. A fourth amendment deletes three paragraphs related to literacy programs.

    -SB 124 By Rep. Dan Webb establishes the Oklahoma Aeronautics and Space Commission as a separate state agency. The enacting clause was stricken.

    -SB 621 by Rep. James Dunegan authorizes the Commissioner of Public Safety to charge and collect certain credit card fees paid to the Department of Public Safety.

    -SB 684 by Rep. Doug Miller relates to state employees in the Oklahoma Personnel Act. The amendment sets a minimum of $25 to be paid into the Oklahoma State Employees Deferred Savings Incentive Plan.

    The Principal authors of the following measures rejected Senate amendments and requested the bills be sent directly to conference committees:

    -HCR 1028 by Rep. Don Ross relates to the Distressed Areas Restoration and Development Act of 2001.

    -HB 1029 By Rep. Fred Stanley relates to the State Dental Act.

    -HB 1070 By Rep. Bill Mitchell relates to the State Travel Reimbursement Act expenses.

    -HB 1072 by Rep. Bill Mitchell relates to cancer treatment and research programs in higher education institutions.

    -HB 1364 by Rep. Jack Begley relates to the Commissioners of the Land Office regarding payments in lieu of ad valorem taxes.

    -HB 1433 by Rep. Barbara Staggs relates to exemption from certain reporting requirements for schools.

    -HB 1627 by Rep. Fred Stanley relates to dental hygienists.

    The Governor signed the following House measures into law on Monday:

    -HB 1253 by Speaker Larry Adair and Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield requires school districts to conduct criminal background checks on new teachers before they can be licensed to teach by the Board of Education. It also requires district attorneys to notify local school superintendents if a student or employee of the district is charged with a crime.

    -HB 1131 by Rep. Dan Webb and Sen. Frank Shurden prohibits the attachment of unauthorized stickers to drivers' licenses, authorizes persons to request the expiration of drivers' license during birth month and removes the requirement for separate substance abuse courses for persons under 21 years of age.

    -HB 1142 by Reps. Kevin Calvey, Ron Peters, and Sen. Jim Reynolds allows prosecutors to file arson charges against anyone who causes a fire while manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance.

    -HB1148 by Rep. Frank Davis and Sen. Mike Johnson clarifies applicability of employment prohibition to certain situations.

    -HB 1152 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert, D-Tulsa and Sen. Ben Robinson requires notice to be provided to the Corporation Commission related to 911 emergency telephone service.

    -HB 1162 by Rep. David Braddock and Sen. Brad Henry authorizes the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to use federal grant funds to improve clandestine drug lab detection, removal and disposal.

    -HB 1191 by Rep. Clay Pope and Sen. Bruce Price creates the Southern Dairy Compact, stating purpose along with rules and terms.

    -HB 1214, by Rep. Terry Ingmire and Sen. Ted Fisher updates statutory cites and deletes obsolete language related to agriculture, children, cities and towns, the Corporation Commission, counties and county officers, crimes and punishments, criminal procedures, elections, insurance, labor motor vehicles, officers, poor persons, prisons and reformatories, professions and occupations, property, public finance, mental health, public health and taxation, schools, state government, waters and water rights and workers' compensation.

    -HB 1262 by Rep. Dale Smith and Sen. Frank Shurden relates to the State Geographic Information Systems Council by adding the Director of Wildlife Conservation as a member of the council.

    -HB 1289 by Rep. Dale Wells and Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, relates to agencies purchasing certain motor vehicles with public funds by adding the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to the list.

    -HB 1329 by Rep. James Covey and Sen. Rick Littlefield relates to the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act by authorizing establishment and charging of certain fees for certain administrative costs.

    -HB 1330 by Rep. James Covey and Sen. Gilmer Capps relates to the Cooperative Marketing Association Act by clarifying and updating language and relates to the Cooperative Agricultural and Horticultural Associations.

    -HB 1376 by Rep. Bob Plunk and Sen. Frank Shurden sets forth an exception to certain bidding procedures involving county purchasing agents.

    -HB 1819 by Speaker Larry Adair, Sen. Brad Henry and President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor authorizes the compilation, codification and annotation of the Oklahoma Statues 2001, providing procedures and requirements related thereto.

    -HB 1824 by Rep. Joe Eddins and Sen. Ben Robinson establishes the Joint Legislative Task Force on Residential Mental Health Programs.

Tuesday, April 10th

  • In another day of heavy floor activity, the State Senate considered more than 45 pieces of legislation, including unanimous passage of HCR 1021 by Sen. Mark Snyder and Rep. Jim Newport denouncing a newly published biography of Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh will be executed next month for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Other legislation approved Tuesday included:

    -HB 1178 by Sen. Maxine Horner authorizing the creation of a not-for-profit corporation related to the Tulsa Race Riot Commission.

    -HB 1196 by Sen. Robert M. Kerr creates special license plates for the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Rotarian, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Boy Scouts of America Supporter and the Humane Society. An amendment by Sen. Mark Snyder added a new license plate for Urban Tree Beautification participants. An amendment by Sen. Charles Ford relating to Log Cabin Republicans was withdrawn.

    -HJR 1025 by Sen. James Maddox calls for a vote of the people to allow county voters to authorize the use of a portion of ad valorum taxes for county economic development.

    -HB 1369 by Sen. Ted Fisher creates the Juvenile Sex Offender Registration Act, which requires the registration of juveniles convicted of certain serious sex crimes.

    -HB 1907 by Sen. Jerry Smith provides that any prisoner who has had three or more lawsuits dismissed as frivolous must put up a filing fee for any subsequent cases.

    -HB 1938 by Sen. Brad Henry would change the statute of limitations for wrongful death under the Tort Claims Act. Currently, the limitation is one year from the time of the injury resulting in death. The bill would change the limitation to one year after the date of the death.

    -HB 1143 by Sen. Penny Williams creates a pilot program to service children at high risk of abuse and neglect.

    Governor Frank Keating signed 30 bills into law on Tuesday and vetoed one measure, which was SB 615 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, relating to illegal parking on state property and would prohibit parking in any restricted spot in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. Governor Keating said he vetoed the measure because of language in section 2 of the bill, dealing with disruptive behavior that disturbs or interferes with the business or operation of any state agency. Keating said the language in that section was overbroad and could criminalize constitutionally protected activities including the right to assemble and the right to free speech. Senate bills signed into law by Governor Keating on Tuesday included:

    -SB 80 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield authorizing the Oklahoma School for the Blind and School for the Deaf to use vehicles to transport public school students.

    -SB 132 by Sen. Angela Monson exempts certain coverage from the requirements for health insurers.

    -SB 133 by Sen. Bernest Cain modifies definitions relating to the protection of children.

    -SB 192 by Senate Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor which makes appointments to the Board of Investors of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund.

    -SB 395 by Sen. Jerry Smith relates to a debtor's appearance at a governmental agency.

    -SB 416 and 423 by Sen. Jim Maddox make changes related to the State Education Employees Group Insurance Board.

    -SB 545 by Sen. Brad Henry creates the Structured Settlement Protection Act of 2001.

    -SB 612 by Sen. Rick Littlefield authorizes the Grand River Dam Authority to accept proceeds from the issuing of certain state bonds.

  • During Tuesday's session, the House of Representatives attempted to override of several items that were vetoed from the General Appropriations Bill, including $4 million for roof repairs for Army National Guard Armories, as well as $6.7 million for digital conversion for OETA. Neither attempt resulted in the necessary two-thirds approval required for an override. The House did approve approximately 30 other measures, including:

    -SB 38 by Rep. Clay Pope which would exempt hearing aids from sales tax. The enacting clause was stricken.

    -SB 382 as amended by Rep. Jari Askins, relates to debtor's assets; expanding scope of certain interrogation; adding persons subject to certain interrogation.

    -SB 514 by Rep. Jack Bonny increases the amount the State Treasurer may invest in the Agricultural Linked Deposit Program. The enacting clause was stricken.

    -SB 663 by Rep. Tad Jones as amended voids the merger between Will Rogers Memorial Commission and J.M. Davis Memorial Commission. The amendment deletes the section of the bill allowing for possible future fees.

    Governor Keating signed the following House Bills on Tuesday:

    -HB 1014 by Rep. Randall Erwin deletes population restrictions relating to cities and counties investing funds.

    -HB 1166 by Rep. Elmer Maddux modifies the county contribution amounts to the deferred savings plan.

    -HB 1177 by Rep. Don Ross changes the requirements for reporting hate crimes to the OSBI.

    -HB 1183 by Rep. John Wright will ensure that the wishes of organ donors are honored by family members.

    -HB 1215 by Rep. Dale Turner declares "Oklahoma Hills" as the Oklahoma State Folk Song.

    -HB 1248 by Rep. J.T. Stites amends the Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System.

    -HB 1251 by Rep. J.T. Stites amends the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

    -HB 1299 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert modifies performance recognition awards for employees of DHS.

    -HB 1373 by Rep. Jari Askins requires that DNA and other biological evidence be kept for as long as the prisoner is incarcerated.

    -HB 1417 by Rep. Debbie Blackburn re-creates the Task Force on Behavioral Health.

    -HB 1434 by Rep. Bill Nations requires a petition for certain municipal assessment districts to state certain language.

    -HB 1469 by Rep. Debbie Blackburn relates to the organization of banks. The law deletes certain organizational provisions, restricts the use of a corporate name and allows for the designation of a beneficiary and payment of proceeds from certain accounts.

    -HB 1691 by Rep. James Dunegan allows county commissions to submit a 911 emergency wireless telephone fee to voters for approval.

    -HB 1740 by Rep. Tim Pope will direct that shop review fees be used for shop reviews.

    -HB 1752 by Rep. Ron Peterson expands the jurisdiction of probate courts.

    -HB 1764 by Rep. Debbie Blackburn amends laws relating to credit unions.

    -HB 1800 by Rep. Terry Matlock requires manufactured home installers to have a certain amount of liability insurance.

    -HB 1885 by Rep. Bill Graves relates to child custody and expands the use of shared parenting.

    -HJR 1003 by Rep. Frank Davis requires the original Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma be returned to Guthrie while an exact duplicate is provided to the Secretary of State in Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, April 11th

  • The full Senate met briefly on Wednesday, then recessed until Monday in observance of the Easter. The Senate will reconvene on Monday, April 16th at 3:00 p.m.

Other News

  • Governor Frank Keating commuted death row inmate Phillip Dewitt Smith's sentence to life without parole. Governor Keating said he agreed with state Pardon and Parole Boardmembers who recommended the action because two witnesses had alter recanted their testimonies, and because forensic evidence linking Smith to the crime scene had been lost. This was the first time a death sentence had been changed since Governor Henry Bellmon ordered the action in another death penalty case in 1966.

  • A sealed indictment was issued by the Multicounty Grand Jury. The Grand Jury has reportedly been investigating whether a person or persons within the Department of Public Safety used state resources for private employment. The Grand Jury recommended that DPS review its existing management practices to ensure that supervisors perform due diligence in providing oversight of officers' work assignments and the use of state equipment to confirm the officer is working on behalf of DPS, and is using state equipment only for official use. The report issued by the Grand Jury also questioned the soundness of the financial management of the State Insurance Fund.

  • Members of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee were briefed by Dr. Burke Healey, DVM, who told them that an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Oklahoma is a realistic possibility. Dr. Healey said it was crucial that Oklahoma moves to minimize the risks. Foot-and-mouth disease has forced the destruction of thousands of animals. Although the last confirmed case of FDM in Oklahoma was in 1929, there are still concerns that the disease could reappear. Healey warned an outbreak anywhere in the United States would be devastating, especially in Oklahoma, which has more than 5 million cattle and 2.3 million hogs. Steps taken by the National Cattlemen's Association include a ban on all imports of animals and animal products from the entire European continent.

  • In a survey released on Monday, it was reported that all but five of Oklahoma's 544 school districts have access to the Internet. Chandler, Edmond, Harrah, Laverne, Muskogee and Oklahoma City's Western Heights and Putnam City school districts have 100 percent of their classrooms ready for the Internet. The average around the state is 81 percent. Those without access are Denison, Forest Grove, Liberty, Optima and Wainwright.