For the week of Monday,
February 3 to Thursday, February 6, 2003
- The Oklahoma Legislature formally
convened its 2003 session, gathering in a joint Senate-House meeting
to receive the annual State of the State address. Governor Brad
Henry outlined his goals for meeting needs in key areas such as
education and health care, while streamlining other services to
offset the budget shortfall. Among some of his recommendations:
-Protect public education from
additional cuts while increasing the state's investment by $110
-Protect health care from additional
cuts, increasing funds for Medicaid programs by $53 million.
-Streamline government and
consolidate agencies and programs to save $220 million or reallocation
to other services such as education and health care.
-A vote of the people on an
education lottery with funds earmarked for school programs.
- With attention focused on getting
measures assigned and heard by committees by the February 20th
deadline, the Senate met briefly on Tuesday, giving approval to
SCR 3 by Senator Gilmer Capps and Senator Cal Hobson praising
the seven astronauts lost on the Columbia space shuttle. The measure,
co-authored by Representatives Jack Bonny and Larry Adair was
also approved by the House.
- Numerous measures were considered
by Senate committees on Tuesday including:
-SJR 1 by Sen. Robert Milacek
which calls for a special election to increase the tax on gasoline
and diesel fuels beginning July 1, 2004 and ending July 1, 2029.
However due to questions as to whether the measure was eligible
for a special election, Senator Milacek agreed to lay the bill
over for one week.
-SB 721 by Sen. Nancy Riley
requires that social security numbers on documents available for
public inspection or copying would be blocked or removed before
being made available. The aim is to reduce identify theft. The
measure passed with the title stricken, 6 to 0.
-SB 428 by Sen. Mike Morgan
exempts interest earned in an Oklahoma College Savings Plan from
forced sale to pay for debts. The bill passed 4 to1.
-SB 532 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
adds physician assistants to the Good Samaritan Act. The measure
was approved 6-0.
- The House on Tuesday heard second
reading of bills, with committees considering several bills, including
the following measures:
-HB 1733 by Rep. Dan Boren
and Rep. Danny Morgan would give the Oklahoma Corporation Commission
the authority to appoint appraisers and resolve disputes between
property owners and oil drilling operations. The local county
court currently has that authority. The bill would also set the
maximum compensation paid to the surface landowner at one and
one-half times the fair market value of the per-acre valuation.
The measure also calls for disputes to be resolved at hearings,
rather than jury trial. The measure was laid over.
-HB 1434 by Rep. Glen "Bud"
Smithson would modify the criteria for collection of the 911 emergency
wireless telephone fee. At present, the 50 cent tax for 911 services
goes to the community in which the phone was purchased. However
Smithson said this was a problem in some communities where the
phones were purchased in nearby Arkansas, but actually used in
Oklahoma. The author proposed collecting the tax based on the
full zip code. The measure was laid over.
-HB 1544 by Rep. Joe Sweeden
would remove the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Training,
Treatment and Rehabilitation Authority from a list of entities
to be terminated on July 1, 2009, and adds the Ottawa Reclamation
Authority to the list. The measure received a do pass recommendation.
- Attention continued to be focused
on committee action on Wednesday, with committees considering
numerous measures, including the following:
-SB 386 by Sen. Herb Rozell would raise the collision report fee
from $7 to $14 and driver record fee from $10 to $20. The fee
increase could raise an estimated $13 million in additional revenues
for the state. Senator Rozell proposed the funds be used for education.
The bill received a do pass recommendation.
-SB 554 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols would create a safety zone around
elementary and junior high schools, public parks and playgrounds
from persons convicted of lewd molestation, rape or sodomy if
the victim was less than 13 years old. An amendment increased
the fine for violating the safety zone from $500 to $2,500. The
measure was given a do pass recommendation, with the title stricken.
-SB 625 by Sen. Daisy Lawler proposes that anyone who throws or
drops any object from a bridge or overpass onto a highway or road
resulting in damage to property or injury of a person would be
guilty of a felony. An amendment raised the maximum fine from
$1000 to $10,000. The measure received a do pass recommendation.
The title was stricken.
-SB 642 by Sen. Kenneth Corn allows for employees to have a voluntary
furlough option and allows members of extended employee organizations
to take up to a year off of work.
-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
-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
- The House also focused on committee
action, and approved the following measures:
-HB 1106 by Rep. Thad Balkman
would increase low-point beer permit fees and license taxes. The
measure would increase permit fees to retail dealers of low-point
beer from $300 every three years to $900 every three years. The
measure would also increase license taxes from $150 every three
years to $750 every three years. The cost for licensure for convenience
stores selling beer would increase from $10 to $100 a year. Rep.
Balkman said the increase could raise up to $1 million in new
revenues which would be used to create the Community -based Substance
Abuse Revolving Fund. The fund would be appropriated to the Department
of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for the purpose
of contracting with private facilities and organizations to provide
treatment, counseling, rehabilitation and other related services
directed toward alcohol and drug-dependent persons.
-HB 1315 by Rep. Bill Paulk
relating to application of Mechanical Licensing Act. The committee
substitute was approved.
-HB 1342 by Rep. Abe Deutschendorf
creates a task force to study and prepare recommendations concerning
the accessibility for the disabled to publicly produced and provided
electronic and information technology; the bill received a do
-HB 1624 by Rep. Mike Reynolds
would require state agencies, boards and commissions to recover
costs associated with contracts for the development of a portal
system or Internet-based electronic transactions or applications
through a convenience fee. The measure, which received a do pass
recommendation, was amended to provide that the fee's collection
could be continued in order to maintain the system.
- 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 20th. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday,
February 10th at 1:30 p.m.
- Senator Keith Leftwich took personal
privilege on the floor to thank fellow members, his wife and his
executive assistant for their support during his fight with cancer
last year. He disclosed that doctors had successfully located
the primary site and would soon begin aggressive treatment.
- Senator Charles Ford, President
of the Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. dedicated another
painting as part of the organizations ongoing effort to create
original artwork for the Capitol depicting scenes from Oklahoma
history and created by Oklahoma artist. The painting "Dugout
Soddy on the Prairie," was painted by internationally known
western artist Wayne Cooper and was a gift from the Kerr Foundation.
The painting will be permanently displayed outside the chamber
entrance to the House of Representatives.