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
-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
-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
-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
-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.
- 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.