The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, April 30 to Thursday, May 3, 2001

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Other News


Monday, April 30th

  • As of Monday, April 30th, there were four weeks remaining in the legislative session. Work continued on conference committee reports and within General Conference Committee on Appropriations subcommittees. Among the legislation approved by the full Senate on Monday was HJR 1033 by Sen. Dave Herbert that sets September 25, 2001 as the date for the special election on right-to work. Other legislation passed by the Senate on Monday included:

    -SB 494 by Sen. Bernest Cain dealing with verbal abuse of the elderly in nursing homes. The bill describes "verbal abuse" as the "repeated use of words, sounds or other forms of communication by a caretaker, including but not limited to, language, gestures, actions or behaviors that are calculated to humiliate or intimidate or cause fear, embarrassment, shame or degradation to the person entrusted to the care of a caretaker." Under SB 494, a caretaker convicted of verbally abusing a patient could face up to a year in jail. The bill also establishes criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for sexual abuse by a caretaker of a person entrusted to their care.

    -SB 408 by Sen. Angela Monson allows the board of regents for OU and OSU to vote to have their CLEET certified officers become members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement system.

    -SB 352 by Sen. Frank Shurden prohibits the distribution of inaccurate voting record materials and specifies information posted on the House of Representative web site shall be deemed as accurate.

    -CCR SB 248 by Sen. Robert M. Kerr directs the Department of Transportation to transfer property to the Native American Cultural and Education Authority.

  • On Monday, Governor Frank Keating signed the following Senate measure into law:

    -SB 707 by Sen. Glenn Coffee, which creates a 24-member task force on the protection of children from violence in the media.

  • In a brief floor session, the House of Representatives approved SCR 18 by Rep. Clay Pope that recommends Oklahoma institute action in the United States Supreme Court for violations of the Canadian River Compact. Other legislation approved by the House included:

    -HB 1107 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert, which relates to the purposes and definitions of the Mental Health law. The House accepted Senate amendments before giving final approval to the measure.

    -HB 1436 by Rep. Bill Nations relates to exemptions from income tax by business incubators. The House accepted Senate amendments and gave final passage to the bill.

    -HB 1636 by Rep. Terry Matlock provides that career and technology centers may designate smoking areas outside of buildings, away from general traffic areas and completely out of sight of children under 18 years of age, for use by adults attending training courses, session, meetings or seminars.

    -SB 710 by Rep. Larry Rice creates the position of Judicial Advisor to the Board of Juvenile Affairs.

  • The following House measures were signed into law by Governor Keating on Monday:

    -HB 1429 by Rep. Loyd Benson which is aimed at augmenting incentives for physicians to treat Medicaid patients. The measure authorizes the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to work with the State Treasurer and Attorney General to establish an income-deferral program that could result in federal tax incentives for such health care providers. The bill also strengthens the Health Care Authority's ability to penalize nursing homes that fail to comply with wage and salary adjustment requirements.

    -HB 1122 by Rep. Susan Winchester which prohibits prosecution of a parent for child abandonment or neglect if the parent leaves their infant with a medical services provider or child rescuer.

Tuesday, May 1st

  • On Tuesday, the Senate gave its approval to two measures, including a bill that would give the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education the Authority to raise tuition rates by up to 7 percent for resident students and up to 9 percent for non-residents each year for the next five years. Tuition for graduate, law and medical programs could have their tuition increased by up to 10 percent for residents and 15 percent for non-residents. SB 596 by Sen. Cal Hobson would only allow the State Regents to raise tuition on a school by school basis when asked to do so by that school's regents. Also being approved in a brief session on Tuesday:

    -SB 756 by Sen. Jim Maddox which creates the Oklahoma Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act. The measure establishes a Small Business Regulatory Review Board within the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to serve as an advisory body to state agencies and the Legislature.

  • Governor Frank Keating approved the following Senate measures on Tuesday:

    -SB 129 by Sen. Sam Helton authorizes school districts to award diplomas to eligible World War II veterans.

    -SB 189 by Sen. Jim Maddox creates the Orthotics and Prosthetics Practice Act.

    -SB 472 by Sen. Frank Shurden modifies the definition of "dangerous dog" and "potentially dangerous dog."

    -SB 617 by Sen. Rick Littlefield requires new and existing members of local water boards to obtain certain continuing education.

    -SB 678 by Sen. Rick Littlefield modifies requirements relating to juveniles in pool halls.

    -SB 775 by Sen. Brooks Douglass adds a member to the Oklahoma Professional Boxing Association.

  • Tuesday was also a day of light floor action for the House of Representatives with lawmakers approving the following two measures:

    -HB 1499 by Rep. Lloyd Benson which delays implementation of various public school programs until certain conditions are met.

    -HB 1639 by Rep. Curt Roggow authorizes certain vehicles to cross medians on turnpikes.

  • Governor Keating signed the following House measures into law on Tuesday:

    -HB 1081by Rep. Richard Phillips and Sen. Glenn Coffee which repeals the required annual vehicle inspection.

    -HB1603 by Rep. Ron Peters authorizes the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission to implement an incentive program to improve private concession maintenance within certain properties.

    -HB 1736 by Rep. Russ Roach modifies a tax exemption for charitable institutions.

    -HB 1952 by Rep. Joe Sweeden creates the Oklahoma Producer Licensing Act.

Wednesday, May 2nd

  • The Senate approved the following measures on Wednesday:

    -SB 756 by Sen. Herb Rozell which provides that inmates who are dying or near death as certified by the medical director of the Department of Corrections are not subject to the current two-stage parole hearing process. The bill also creates a procedures for the transfer of inmates from county jails to DOC custody, including a requirement that DOC receive an inmate within 72 hours of notification by the county sheriff if the county jail is at capacity.

    -SB 116 by Senate President Pro-Tempore Stratton Taylor would repeal a law intended to combine the administration of the Will Rogers Memorial Commission and the J.M. Davis Memorial Commission.

    -SB 480 By Sen. Frank Shurden authorizes a $5.00 fee for applications for controlled hunts.

    -SB 502 by Sen. Jeff Rabon would delete the higher deductible plan administered by the Oklahoma State Employee Group Insurance Board (OSEEGIB).

    -SB 633 by Sen. Ben Robinson would clarify language related to OSEEGIB.

    -SB 196 by Sen. Kevin Easley would repeal the reciprocal hazardous waste fee because it is unenforceable and has been declared unconstitutional.

    -SCR 26 by Sens. Stratton Taylor, Billy Mickle, and James Dunlap memorializing Congress to provide equitable funding for Indian Health Services.

    -SB 341 by Sen. Penny Williams would change the name of the OSU School of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa to the OSU Health Sciences Center.

  • The Governor signed SB 617 by Sen. Rick Littlefield and Rep. Joe Hutchison which requires all members of the governing boards of rural water districts and non-profit rural water corporations to complete at least six hours of continuing education every three years. The following Senate Bills were also signed into law on Wednesday: SB 39, SB 83, SB 115, SB 382, SB 394, SB 458, SB 476, SB 508, SB 555, SB 626, SB 716, SB 747.

  • The House of Representatives approved HCR 1029 by Rep. Russ Roach which requests approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation for arrivals and departures at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by Tulsa based Great Plains Airlines. This was the only action on the House Floor on Wednesday. The following House measures were signed into law by Governor Keating:

    -HB 1044 by Rep. Randall Erwin and Sen. Jeff Rabon modifies the continuing education requirements for the school boards that set policies for Oklahoma's 544 public school districts. School board members who serve terms of five or more years must still acquire at least 15 hours of continuing education. Every member elected to a full four-year term will be required to attend a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education under the new law, while members of smaller schools who serve three-year terms will be required to attain at least nine hours of continuing education. The new law goes into effect July 1.

    -HB 1393 by Rep. John Nance and Sen. Dick Wilkerson allows law enforcement agents who are in the course of a wiretap investigation to act on information they obtain about a crime, even if it is unrelated to the wire tap. Under HB 1393, if additional criminal information unrelated to the wire tap is discovered, law enforcement agents can send the information back to the judge, who will decide whether it merits further investigation. The new law encompasses such crimes as murder, rape, assault and battery, kidnapping, arson, robbery, child abuse and child molestation.

Thursday, May 3rd

  • The Senate met in a brief floor session on Thursday before adjourning for the week. The Senate will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 7th. As of next Monday, there will be three weeks remaining in the 2001 legislative session.

Other News

  • Senator Cal Hobson has gained the unanimous approval of Senate Democrats to become the next President Pro Tempore. Hobson, who serves as Vice-Chairman of Appropriations and Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will replace Senator Stratton Taylor after his current term expires in two years. Prior to his election to the senate in 1990, Hobson served 12 years in the House of Representatives.

  • Governor Frank Keating has been getting media inquiries about whether he would want to take over the top post at the FBI; current director Louis Freeh announced yesterday he was resigning his position in June prompting numerous media calls to the governor's office. However, Governor Keating says he intends to complete his term as governor.

    Keating had been rumored to be a front-runner for the vice-presidential slot in last year's election, which instead went to Dick Cheney. Keating was later mentioned as a contender for U.S. Attorney General but President Bush instead selected former U.S. Senator John Ashcroft from Missouri.

    Newsweek magazine reported that Keating was passed over for that position because of some $250,000 in cash gifts given to the Governor by New York financier jack Dreyfus. Keating later returned the money after the report was published.