The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, May 7 to Thursday, May 10, 2001

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Other News


Monday, May 7th

  • As of Monday, May 7th, there were three weeks remaining in the legislative session. Work continued on conference committee reports and within General Conference Committee on Appropriations subcommittees. During a brief floor session, the Senate approved a supplemental appropriation for the Department of Corrections. The conference committee version of HB 1567 by Sens. Kelly Haney and Cal Hobson would direct just over $11 million from the Special Cash Fund to the DOC. Of the $11 million, about $9.8 million would go to private prisons and the other $1.2 million would go to state facilities. Another $3.5 million originally appropriated for community sentencing would be transferred for operational costs. In addition, $517,370 originally appropriated for architectural and engineering work at the O'Donoghue Rehabilitation Institute would be redirected for DOC operations, specifically for medical expenses.

  • Governor Frank Keating signed the following Senate measures into law on Monday:

    -SB 716 by Sens. Jonathan Nichols and Carol Martin and Rep. Carolyn Coleman, which makes sexual intercourse between a teacher and a student younger than 18 a felony crime of rape. The law would apply only to those teachers or employers at the same school as the student. Takes effect November 1, 2001.

    -SB 494 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Debbie Blackburn increases penalties for a caretaker convicted of sexual or verbal abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable person in his or her care. Aimed at patients in nursing homes or others in similar care situations, the legislation states that a caretaker convicted of felony neglect or exploitation can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $10,000. For sexual abuse, the penalty could be up to 15 years in prison with a fine of up to $10,000. A conviction of misdemeanor verbal abuse of an elderly or incapacitated person would be up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. SB 494 takes effect July 1, 2001.

    -SB 472 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. M.C. Leist widens the definition of dangerous dog, effective immediately. Under the bill a "potentially dangerous dog" is one that, even though unprovoked, "kills or severely injures a domestic animal" or bites a human. A "dangerous dog" is one that previously has been found to be potentially dangerous and the owner has been notified in writing of that assessment, and subsequently the animal kills or severely injures a domestic animal, or bites, attacks or endangers the safety of a person without provocation.

    -SB 196 by Sen. Kevin Easley and Rep. M.C. Leist repeals a nine-year-old law that allowed the State of Oklahoma to charge reciprocal fees for disposal of out-of-state hazardous waste. That's after the courts declared reciprocal fees as an unconstitutional restraint of trade in violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause. Oklahoma has since established a uniform fee schedule for hazardous waste disposal.

    -SB 747 by Sen. Keith Leftwich and Rep. Bill Nations sanctions parent-taught driver education courses. A 15 and a half year old being taught to drive by a parent will be eligible for a learner's permit allowing the youth to drive a car if the parent or guardian is riding with the student in the front passenger's seat, provided the student passes the written portion of the driver's exam. The bill also provides that anyone enrolled in a commercial driver education course can receive a learner's permit, and allows the student to drive a vehicle if accompanied by a driver who is at least 21 years old and is sitting in the front passenger seat. SB 747 takes effect July 1, 2001.

    -SB 678 by Sen. Rick Littlefield and Rep. Joe Hutchison provides that a pool/billiard hall license can be revoked if the proprietor allows anyone younger than 21 to enter premises where beer or liquor are served. Also establishes a new licensing fee effective November 1st: $25 for a three-year period. The current fee is $10 a year.

    -SB 47 by Sen. Carol Martin provides for additional directors for county fire departments.

    -SB 166 by Sen. Frank Shurden creates the Oklahoma Licensed Pedorthists Act.

    -SB 401 by Sen. Mike Morgan increases a cap under the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.

    -SB 408 by Sen. Angela Monson provides for a service credit under the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System.

    -SB 497 by Sen. J. Berry Harrison declassifies a position under the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board (OSEEGIB).

    -SB 502 by Sen. Jeff Rabon modifies provisions relating to OSEEGIB.

    -SB 633 by Sen. Ben Robinson authorizes OSEEGIB to determine appropriate plan specifications.

    -SB 669 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson expands the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System to include agents of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.

    -SB 685 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson increases the membership of the State Fire Marshal Commission.

  • In a brief floor session, the House of Representatives approved the following measures:

    -HB 1567 by Rep. Mike Mass makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Corrections.

    -HCR 1023 by Rep. Curt Roggow relates to the rules of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, waiving the 30-day legislative period.

    -HCR 1028 by Rep. Al Lindley declares May as Oklahoma Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month.

    -SCR 27 by Rep. Joe Sweeden recalls SB 156, which relates to the Rural Economic Action Plan, from the governor's desk.

    -The Governor vetoed SB 352 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. M.C. Least, which would have empowered the Ethics Commission to levy a fine of up to $50,000 for knowingly spreading false information about a political candidate. Governor Keating said he vetoed the measure because it inappropriately limits the First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

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

    -HB 1895 by Reps. Curt Roggow, Dale Smith, Mike Ervin, Dale Turner and Sen. Ted Fisher which creates a seven-member Small Community Development Incentive Task Force.

    -HB 1241 by Reps. Joan Greenwood, Dale Wells, and Sen. Bernest Cain would create the Youth Suicide Prevention Act. The purpose of the bill is to use youth-suicide related data to create a comprehensive public policy aimed at reducing the number of suicides and attempted suicides in Oklahoma.

    -HB 1825 by Rep. Joan Greenwood and Senator Carol Martin directs state agencies to collaborate on development of a comprehensive statewide system to prevent risky behavior such as tobacco, alcohol, drug use as well as violence and sexual activity and promote positive youth development. The collaboration team must report its findings and recommendations to the lawmakers and the governor by January 14, 2002.

    -HB 1361 by Reps. Stuart Ericson, John Nance and Sen. Jonathan Nichols would require convicted methamphetimine manufacturers to reimburse the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for the cost of dismantling illegal drug lab sites.

    -HB 1636 by Rep Terry Matlock and Sen. Bernest Cain allows career technology centers to reserve remote smoking areas for adults. The designated smoking areas must be outside of buildings, away from general traffic areas and completely out of sight of children under 18 years of age. Effective immediately.

    -HB 1107 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert clarifies language relating to assistant commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

    -HB 1436 by Rep Bill Nations modifies the qualifications for an income tax exemption through the Department of Commerce.

Tuesday, May 8th

  • On Tuesday, the Senate approved the following measures:

    -SB 702 by Sen. President Pro-Tempore Stratton Taylor, which increases the state employee benefit allowance for life, health, dental and disability insurance, and provides targeted pay increases for some state employee classifications. Corrections security officers, probation and parole officers, corrections food services specialists and managers will receive a $4,000 pay raise. Other Non-certified correctional staff will receive a $2,00 pay raise. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurse specialists will receive a $2,100 pay raise. Direct care specialists and patient care assistants will get $1,550 more. Transportation technicians will get $1,300 more.

    -HB 1633 by Sen. J. Berry Harrison establishes a notification process for prescribed burns.

    -HB 1633 by Sen. Paul Muegge establishes the Oklahoma Ethanol Development Study Act Advisory Committee.

    -SB 91 by Sen. Paul Muegge provides that rural water district plans for locating water lines shall comply with certain specifications.

  • The Governor vetoed SB 765 by Sen. James Maddox which would have established the Small Business Regulatory Review Committee within the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Keating said that while he supports the concept of the bill, it would duplicate provisions already contained in the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act. However the Governor signed the following Senate bills on Tuesday:

    -SB 480 by Sen. Frank Shurden authorizes the Department of Wildlife Conservation to impose a $5 processing fee for controlled hunts.

    -SB 756 by Sen. Herb Rozell establishes a procedure for the transfer of inmates from prisons to county jails and eliminates the two-stage parole process for certain terminally ill inmates.

  • Tuesday the House of Representatives approved the following measures:

    -HB 1217 By Rep. Dale Turner creating the "Oklahoma Ethanol Development Study Act."

    -HB 1633 by Rep. Joe Sweeden, requiring certain conduct and procedures for conducting a prescribed burn.

    -HB 1801 by Rep. Kevin Cox modifies circumstances for which a new uninsured motorist coverage form is required for fleet coverage.

    -HB 1804 by Rep. Jim Glover provides for application for representation by the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

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

    -HB 1499 by Rep. Loyd Benson delays the implementation of several education programs until the current per pupil expenditure reaches at least 90 percent of the regional average.

    -HB 1639 by Rep. Curt Roggow relates to motor vehicles and adds certain road provisions regarding construction zones.

Wednesday, May 9th

  • The Senate approved the following measures on Wednesday:

    -HB 1092 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson would repeal a state law banning students from taking wireless telecommunications devices to school. The new legislation would allow local schools to set their own policies on cell phones and pagers.

    -SB 753 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson would create a $5 fee to be added to all criminal fines and traffic violation tickets in order to help OSBI reduce its backlog of nearly 5000 cases awaiting forensic tests.

    -SR 16 by Sen. Nancy Riley declares Saturday, May 12, 2001 as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

  • The House of Representatives approved the following measures on Wednesday:

    -SB 702 by Rep. Ray Miller increases pay for specific state employees, including corrections workers, nurses, and highway technicians. The measure also increases the amount the state pays for employee insurance.

    -HCR 1033 by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew expresses the regret of the Oklahoma Legislature for the wrongful incarceration of Jeffrey Todd Pierce. Pierce was freed from prison after new DNA tests showed he was innocent some 15 years after he was convicted on a charge of first-degree rape.

Thursday, May 10th

  • 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 14th. As of next Monday, there will be two weeks remaining in the 2001 legislative session.

Other News

  • Senator Kelly Haney said the appropriation for a special program to enable new DNA tests for certain individuals would be triple the amount of last year's appropriation. Senator Haney said a man freed this week after such test proved his innocence would not have been possible had the legislature not created the program last year. He said increased resources were needed to investigate additional questionable convictions.

  • Rep. Opio Toure announced his plans to amend the Governmental Tort Claims Act to allow inmates wrongfully convicted of a crime to be compensated. Toure said under current law, citizens who are wrongfully imprisoned are prohibited from receiving any monetary compensation for their years of imprisonment.