The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 18 to Thursday, February 21, 2002

Monday, February 18th

  • With the Thursday deadline for committee approval for bills from the house of origin fast approaching, Senate action once again focused on the committee level. Among those bills winning approval:

    -SB 1471 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson which requires an applicant for employment with a school district to sign a statement authorizing the disclosure of unprofessional conduct. The bill was successfully amended by Senator Glenn Coffee to implement a daily moment of silence in Oklahoma classrooms.

    -SB 900 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield removes the 18-month service requirement from legislation that allows school districts to grant high school diplomas to veterans of World War II.

    -SB 992 by Sen. Herb Rozell creates the School Bullying Prevention Act and requires district policy to prohibit harassment, intimidation, and bullying of students.

    -SR 28 by Sen. Glenn Coffee honoring former Oklahoma County District Attorney Robert Macy for his 21 years of service.

    -SB 917 by Sen. Keith Leftwich requires fugitives to reimburse the county sheriff for the costs of returning the fugitive by adding the reimbursement to the court costs.

    -SB 1350 by Sen. Larry Dickerson requires an address other than a post office box to change voter registration, changes requirements for receiving bids for printing the ballots. The bill also requires precincts within school districts to be open for all elections, as well as limiting the number of signatures a person can witness on affidavits of persons who swear they are physically incapacitated and unable to vote in person at their precinct on election day to 50. The bill also authorizes family members of military personnel the right to vote when they were unable to register during the required time. The title was stricken.

    -SB 1398 by Sen. Keith Leftwich provides for next of kin of deceased persons to cancel voter registration and authorizes the use of private mail service to return absentee ballots.

  • Likewise, action was heavy in various House Committees on Monday. Among those bills winning approval:

    -HB 2697 by Rep. Al Lindley aimed at increasing Oklahoma schools' compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

    -HB 2144 by Rep. Opio Toure would prevent predatory lending practices which proponents say hurt seniors and low and moderate income households. The legislation would limit prepayment penalties on all loans, prohibit single premium credit insurance on all loans and prohibit loan-flipping, or refinancing without a tangible benefit to the borrower.

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

    -HB 2142 by Rep. Opio Toure enacts the Oklahoma Cloning Prohibition Act, defines terms relating to cloning, makes certain activities unlawful, requires individuals intending to perform human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to register with the State Commissioner of Health and provides penalties for those participating in unlawful acts relating to cloning. An attempt to amend the bill to include a ban on therapeutic cloning failed.

Tuesday, February 19th

  • The Senate approved more than 100 appropriation shell bills on Tuesday in order to keep the legislative process moving, while committee action continued to focus on substantive legislation. Among those bills approved at that level:

    -SB 815 by Sen. Jeff Rabon which would require school districts to enforce a daily recognition of one minute of silence.

    -SB 1286 by Sen. Mark Snyder modifies amount of tax due on certain capital gains, gradually phasing out the tax over a period of several years.

    -SJR 30 by Sen. Robert Milacek would send to the voters a proposal to increase the tax on gasoline by two cents per gallon per year until a total increase of five cents per gallon is reached. Diesel fuel taxes would increase by two cents per gallon per year until a total increase of seven cents is reached. If approved, the measure would provide additional funds for transportation.

    -SB 905 by Sen. Ted Fisher would make it unlawful for trains to block vehicle traffic longer than 10 minutes.

    -SB 937 by Sen. Frank Shurden increases the cost of a lifetime fishing license from $150 to $175, increases a lifetime hunting license from $400 to $626, and increases the combination hunting and fishing license from $525 to $750.

  • While attention on the House side was also focused on committee work, eleven bills were approved by the full chamber, including:

    -HB 2613 by Rep. Susan Winchester raising the income tax deduction allowed for nonrecurring adoption expenses from $10,000 to $20,000. The title was stricken.

    -HB 2330 by Rep. Elmer Maddux sets criteria for determining recreational facilities for purposes of swine animal feeding operations.

    -SJR 42 by Rep. William Paulk creates the Office of the Interim Oklahoma Security Director.

Wednesday, February 20th

  • The full Senate voted 44-3 on Wednesday in favor of a $15,598,947 supplemental appropriation for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority after that agency had said it would be forced to deny coverage to thousands of Oklahomans without the additional funding. The OHCA Board contended the shortfall was due to increased enrollment and rising healthcare costs, however several Senate Republicans said greater accountability was needed for the agency which is charged with administering the state's Medicaid program. Several other legislative measures were approved by various committees on Wednesday, including:

    -SJR 40 by Sen. Brad Henry which would create the Oklahoma Lottery for Education Act and would let Oklahomans vote whether to accept or reject a lottery to be used to fund tuition for all Oklahomans to state colleges and universities as well as funding early childhood programs and teachers' health care.

    -SB 987 by Sen. Frank Shurden would allow rape in the first degree to be punishable with a sentence of life or life without parole.

    -SB 989 by Sen. Frank Shurden would provide that lottery activities of churches, schools and affiliated entities and certain organizations will not be deemed in violation of lottery or gambling laws of the state.

    -SB 1239 by Sen. Jim Maddox would require that telephones at state agencies be answered by a person during normal business hours of the state agency.

    -SB 1259 by Sen. Glenn Coffee would provide judicial procedures for return of property that comes into custody of law enforcement officers and prohibits the return of certain weapons.

    -SB 1361 by Sen. Larry Dickerson would increase annualized salary for state employees by 4.5%. The title was stricken.

    -SB 1363 by Sen. Larry Dickerson would require state employees to receive one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for each hour of work on a state holiday, and would allow for just compensation of employees working less than desirable shifts. The title was stricken.

    -SB 1428 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols would remove the statute of limitations on prosecution for rape, forcible sodomy, lewd molestation of a child or sexual abuse of a child, when DNA evidence is collected from the victim or crime scene and is properly maintained as an identifier of a perpetrator of such offense.

    -SB1464 by Sen. Robert Milacek would increase certain fees and punishments for uninsured drivers.

    -SB 1468 by Sen. Jim Maddox would create the Healthy Oklahoma Prescription Benefit Program Act and would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to implement and administer the program.

    -SB 1631 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield would provide mathematics remediation for certain third through eighth grade students and require satisfactory mathematics ability at the eighth-grade level to obtain a driver's license.

  • The House considered legislation on Wednesday that would have repealed the state income tax increase trigger law, but the measure failed by one vote. Other legislation winning approval by included the following:

    -HB 1923 by Rep. William Paulk would create the Oklahoma No-Call List Act relating to telemarketing.

    -HB 2049 by Rep. Gary Taylor relates to the eligibility of county officers to run for state office.

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

    -HB 2244 by Rep. Kris Steele adds Korean War veterans to those veterans eligible to receive high school diplomas.

    -HB 2275 by Rep. Dan Webb removes limits on application and examination fees for those seeking certification as an accountant.

  • The following measures were approved by House committees on Wednesday:

    -HB 2041 by Rep. Clay Pope would eliminate the state franchise and estate taxes, provide for a flat rate income tax of five percent, and raise the state sales tax from four and one half percent to six and one-quarter percent.

    -HB 2014 by Rep. Greg Piatt creates a sales tax exemption for clothing, footwear and school supplies if the article or school supply is less than one hundred dollars, between 12:01 a.m. on the first Monday in August and 12 midnight on the following Sunday. Clothing or footwear designed primarily for athletic activity or protection, accessories and rental clothing or footwear are not eligible for sales tax exemption.

    -HB 2921 by Rep. Fred Morgan authorizes an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.

    -HB 2115 by Rep. David Braddock removes "the growing of certain vegetation" from the list of property uses that may be restricted by city ordinance within five miles of an active-duty United States Air Force military installation.

    -HB 2207 by Rep. Barbara Staggs modifies requirements for governor appointments to the State Board of Career and Technology Education. The bill requires board members to have a high school diploma or equivalent and to complete workshop requirements.

    -HB 2086 by Rep. Ron Kirby amends the cancellation of voter registration for convicted felons, requiring a court clerk to transmit information to the State Election Board. The bill also removes the restriction limiting voter registration cancellation to only persons convicted of felonies whose convictions have become final.

Thursday, February 21st

  • The Senate met briefly before adjourning so that committees could continue hearing legislation. This marked the final day for committee action on the house of origin. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday, February 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Other News

  • The State Equalization Board met on Tuesday declaring the state's budget shortfall is worse than previous estimates had indicated. The board announced the shortfall for the current fiscal year is $21.4 million more than projections approved in December. As a result, agency allocations will be cut over the next four months an average of 4.5 percent each month. The board also disclosed that the FY 2003 budget would be $350.3 million less than the current budget year. The main reason for the reduced revenue figures is lower revenues from the gross production tax on natural gas, which were 54.9 percent less than last year's projection.

  • Also on Tuesday, Governor Frank Keating signed House Bill 2315 into law. The legislation, authored by Representative Russ Roach and Senator Brad Henry will give Great Plains Airlines $9 million in tax credits over the next three years. Henry and Roach contended the money would enable the airlines to increase flights to current destinations as well as adding new direct flights.

  • In a case that originated in Owasso, Oklahoma, The United States Supreme Court ruled that allowing students to grade each other's papers was not a violation of federal privacy law. The case began after an Owasso student was ridiculed by the classmate grading his paper. After the high court's ruling, the mother of that student said she hoped Congress would pass a new law banning the practice, or that schools would voluntarily end it.