The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 4 to Thursday, February 7, 2002

Monday, February 5th

  • The Oklahoma Legislature formally convened its 2002 session, gathering in a joint Senate-House meeting to receive the annual state of the state address. Governor Keating outlined his goals for his final months in office, focusing on tax reform and education. The Governor's initiatives include:

    -A recommendation that the legislature send to a vote of the people a proposal that would eliminate the state's income tax, estate tax and sales tax on groceries and replace it with a "consumption tax system."

    -Expanding high school curriculum to a proposed 4x4 "flex" system while strengthening the state's Career Tech system by making it a "full partner in education."

    -Enacting a stronger testing system for grades 3-8 that advances students only when they've mastered each level, as well as creating a strong remedial education program to help those who lag behind.

Tuesday, February 5th

  • The Senate met briefly on Tuesday for second reading of bills and resolutions. Before adjourning the Senate voted for the following measure:

    -SCR 51 by Sen. Stratton Taylor which designates Friday, May 24, 2002, as the adjournment day for the Senate for the 2002 legislative session.
  • The House on Tuesday heard second reading of bills, with various committees acting on the following measures:

    -HB 2268 by Rep. Odilia Dank modifies the terms of office of members of the Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The measure was amended to require a list of three names to be submitted to the Governor by the Oklahoma Coalition of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. A second amendment changed the list of three names to be submitted from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to the Oklahoma Mental Health Consumer Council. The lists were for separate board members. The measures would also make changes to the length of terms from seven to five years, which would allow the board members to serve for a maximum of 10 years.

    -HB 2249 by Rep. Al Lindley creates the Strategic Planning Committee on the Olmstead Decision, which shall continue until June 30, 2005. Lindley said the bill was the result of an interim study and that the only change to the pre-filed bill was the addition of committee members.

    -HB 2790 by Rep. Jari Askins provides exception for statute of limitations relating to sex offenders where genetic evidence exists. Under this bill, the statute of limitations for certain crimes, including rape or forcible sodomy, sodomy, lewd or indecent proposals or acts against children, involving minors in pornography, and child abuse, could be extended indefinitely. Askins explained the bill would not only keep DNA cases open, but would address issues that have arisen in Oklahoma City, in which some prisoners were convicted on faulty DNA evidence and later found to be innocent. The bill would allow complete exoneration for those found innocent and allow prosecutors to reopen such cases if the statute of limitations has expired.

    -HB 2921 by Rep. Fred Morgan would create a program within the Secretary of State's office which would allow victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking to make their home addresses confidential. The bill also makes the victims' addresses on public documents, such as driver licenses, marriage licenses and voter registration confidential.

    -HB 2216 by Rep. Fred Morgan would allow the use of murder victims' photographs during criminal homicide prosecution.

    -HB 2155 by Rep. M. C. Leist adds the option of sending pregnant drug or alcohol addicted women to a rehabilitation center for the term of the pregnancy.

    -HB 2202 by Rep. Odilia Dank would eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children.

Wednesday, February 6th

  • As a result of a Supreme Court ruling that a budget reconciliation bill passed in the waning days of the 2001 session was unconstitutional, the Senate voted to rectify the problem by passing several individual appropriations bills. The funding in the 16 bills was all included in HB 1570, last year's end-of-session budget bill that was ruled unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. The Justices ordered that the funding be designated in separate and specific appropriations bills before February 15, 2002. All 16 appropriations bills to various agencies passed, however SB 1499 was opposed by Senate Republicans and failed to get the required two-thirds for passage of the emergency. Senate Minority Leader Jim Dunlap criticized SB 1499 as pork barrel spending in a year when other agencies were being forced to make budget cuts. In addition to floor action on the 16 appropriations bills, numerous measures were considered by various Senate committees, including the following:

    -SJR 10 by Sen. Penny Williams called for a statewide vote on the elimination of the state sales tax on groceries. In order to make the change revenue neutral the measure would increase taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, cigarettes, clothing and footwear priced at more than $200, lodging priced at more than $100 per night and on motor vehicles and vessels priced at more than $50,000. SJR 10 was killed on a 16-24 vote.

    -SB 874 by Sen. Angela Monson would impose an additional $10 for persons convicted of traffic offenses other than speeding, parking or standing violations.

    -SB 1641 by Sen. Bernest Cain modifies the age at which insurance coverage shall be mandatory for audiological services, provides an additional coverage condition and authorizes coverage expansion.

    -SB 837 by Sen. Carol Martin allows two or more school districts or district boards of education to contract with certain personnel to contracting districts and allows some mutual and separate contracts between school districts and certain personnel. The bill does not mandate annexation or consolidation and prohibits closure of certain school sites.

    -SB 901 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield provides a salary bonus to nationally certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists. The title was stricken.

    -SB 1462 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson increases limitation on our-of-state teaching experience related to the teacher minimum salary schedule and repeals duplicate legislation related to the minimum salary schedule. The title was stricken.

    -SB 1344 by Sen. Maxine Horner relates to the Tulsa Reconciliation Education and Scholarship Program, modifying scope of program by defining borders of the Greenwood area, and modifying award criteria.

    -SB 1631 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, provides mathematics remediation for certain third through eighth grade students, requiring satisfactory mathematics ability at the eighth-grade level to obtain driver license.
  • After lengthy debate, the State House passed a measure to give a $3 million tax credit to Great Plains Airlines each year over a three year period. HB 2315 by Rep. Russ Roach would enable the company to lease four more aircraft and increase the frequency of existing routes. Roach said the company's long-term goals included additional direct flights to coastal business centers such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. The Tulsa based airlines currently offers direct flights to Oklahoma City, Nashville, and Colorado Springs. The measure was approved 74-22. Other measure approved by House committees and subcommittees included:

    -HB 2887 by Rep. Larry Ferguson which would direct the Department of Public Safety to implement a digital fingerprinting system and then would require all applicants for a new, renewed or replacement license to submit to fingerprinting.

    -HB 1982 by Rep. M.C. Leist would restrict the type of punishment a municipality may impose for seat belt violations.

    -HB 2785 by Rep. Jim Glover would require a nonresident driver to use child passenger restraint system for child passengers.

    -HB 2901 by Rep. Russ Roach would add a $2.00 assessment for the Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund to the costs in criminal cases.

    -HB 2078 by Rep. Dennis Adkins would allow post-graduate medical study in the United Kingdom to be recognized by state licensing boards.

    -HB 2352 by Rep. Mark Liotta would prohibit an employer from giving out employees' social security numbers without the permission of the employees. The bill was amended to allow law enforcement and other governmental agencies access to the numbers.

Thursday, February 7th

  • The Senate met briefly before adjourning so that committees could continue hearing legislation. The deadline for final action by committees on legislation from the house of origin is February 21. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday, February 11 at 1:30 p.m.

Other News

  • Two new paintings of famous Oklahomans from the past were dedicated during a special ceremony in the Senate Chamber on Wednesday. The portrait of Frank Eaton, better known as "Pistol Pete" was a gift from State Senator Mike Morgan. A painting of Oklahoma Lawman and former State Senator Bill Tilghman was a gift of Senator Brad Henry. Senator Charles Ford, President of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. says the organization has now dedicated a total of 26 original artworks depicting historic Oklahoma scenes and personalities, all of which were painted by Oklahoma artists.