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The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 10 to Thursday, February 13, 2003

Monday, February 10th

  • The State Senate formally reconvened at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, February 10th. The full Senate approved the floor substitute for SB 8 by Senator Dick Wilkerson which would allow members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System to be eligible to serve as directors of state agencies. The Senate also approved SR 1 by Senator Keith Leftwich commending the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for their work on the Interstate-40 bridge project and SR 5 also by Leftwich commending Terence Newman for being named the 2002 Jim Thorpe Award winner. Other measures gaining approval in committee included:

    -SB 423 by Sen. Robert M. Kerr would require applicants for a driver license or identification card to be finger printed for proof of identity. The bill was approved 9-0.

    -SB 653 by Sen. Maxine Horner would allow open containers of intoxicating beverages in limousines provided that the chauffeur does not consume an intoxicating beverage. The measure was approved 10-0.

    -SB 715 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would make contracts for employment of a teacher or administrator by a district board of education more specific and uniform. The measure would also make pay stub information to employees more specific. The measure passed 8-3.

  • The House also focused much of its attention on measures awaiting consideration by various committees. One of the more controversial measures in that chamber was a bill to end the execution of minors. HB 1405 by Representative Opio Toure was heard by the House Appropriations Budget Subcommittee for Public Safety and Judiciary, but did not have enough support for passage by the committee. Among those measures before committees receiving a do pass motion were:

    -HB 1406 by Rep. Opio Toure would allow claims for wrongful criminal felony conviction resulting in imprisonment if the claimant has received a full pardon. The measure would provide that for the claimant to recover based on "actual innocence," the individual must meet criteria set forth by the measure. There would be a cap on the total liability of the state.

    -HB 1139 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert proposes to authorize the board of county commissioners to determine a curfew that would apply to all unincorporated areas of counties with a population threshold of 500,000. Any person convicted of a curfew violation would be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a minimum fine of $25.

    -HB 1089 by Rep Ron Peterson would reduce unclaimed property or money or legal tender custody time from six months to 90 days and increase the required value from $25 to $100 before any chief of police may file an application in the district court to conduct a sale for disposal.

Tuesday, February 11th

  • On Tuesday Governor Brad Henry, Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, Speaker Larry Adair, Senate Republican Leader James A. Williamson and House Republican Leader Todd Hiett announced an agreement had been reached to tap the State Rainy Day fund for $25.5 million to help offset budget cuts in education. Because of the funding structure for education, public schools actually received higher cuts than those faced by other state agencies. Accessing the emergency fund will reduce their current budget cuts from 7.75 to 6.5 percent.

    Numerous measures were considered by Senate committees on Tuesday including:

    -SB 368 by Sen. Ben Robinson would require barges operating on Oklahoma waters to have at least two licensed barge operators in the pilot house when they come within one-half mile of a bridge. Senator Robinson explained the measure is an attempt to prevent accidents similar to the barge accident that collapsed a portion of the I-40 bridge over the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls. The measure was approved.

    -SB 565 by Sen. Glenn Coffee would require computer technicians to report any instance of child pornography they found while repairing machines. The measure was approved 4 to 1.

    -SB 391 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols would allow proof of prior convictions as admissible evidence in criminal proceedings. The measure was approved by committee.

    -SB 837 by Sen. Frank Shurden would allow certain charitable and non-profit organizations to hold fund raising activities without breaking lottery laws.

    -SB 282 by Sen. Ben Robinson proposes payment of charges due on a credit card account will be credited by the credit card issuer no later than the date that the payment was deposited into the U.S. mail. The measure also says that no delinquency charge may be imposed where the minimum payment has been deposited into the U.S. mail by the payment due date. The measure was approved, with the title stricken.

    -SB 584 by Sen. Bruce Price would create the "Oklahoma Farm Animal, Crop and Research Facility Protection Act." Senator Price explained the measure was requested by agriculture groups as a way to deal with terrorist acts. The measure was approved.

  • The House was also focused on bills awaiting committee action. Among those measures receiving approval:

    -HB 1147 by Rep. Kevin Cox relates to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act by prohibiting a registered person from residing within one mile of any public or private school site or educational institution.

    -HB 1623 by Rep. David Braddock adds the act of causing, exposing, forcing or requiring a child under the age of 16 to view photos, drawings, or computer-generated images depicting the body or private parts of another person to the list of lewd and indecent proposals.

    -HB 1679 by Rep Debbie Blackburn creating the Statewide Water Policy Planning Commission. The measure was in a response to previous attempted water sales to Texas.

    -HB 1690 by Rep. Jari Askins increases the maximum fine from $500 to $5000 for cruelty to animals. Also a violation could result in forfeiture and seizure of the mistreated animals.

Wednesday, February 12th

  • The Senate convened at 9 a.m. on Wednesday meeting briefly before adjourning for further committee deliberation of pending measures. Among those receiving approval:

    -SB 386 by Sen. Herb Rozell would raise the vehicle collision report fee from $7 to $14 and driver record fee from $10 to $20. The committee substitute was approved, with the title stricken.

    -SB 706 by Sen. Scott Pruitt proposes that all victims of sex crimes be notified if a perpetrator tests positive for an S.T.D. by the Department of Health and specifies that a victim would incur no costs for the tests, delivery, or treatment of the disease. The measure was approved.

    -SB 835 by Senator Frank Shurden would drop the fine for spectators of cockfighting from $500 to $200. The measure's title was stricken before being approved.

    -SB 652 by Sen. Keith Leftwich would require payment of medical costs by jail inmates. The measure was approved by committee.

    -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 324 by Sen. Mike Morgan modifies limits related to tuition for certain courses and programs at the higher education level. Senator Morgan said the final version of the bill would tie tuition fees to other Big Twelve schools. The measure was approved with the title stricken.

    -SJR 11 by Sen. Mike Johnson calls for a vote of the people by asking for a raise in the cap on millage that may be levied for local support of schools upon approval of majority of school district electors. The measure was approved with the title stricken.

    -SB 527 by Sen. Rick Littlefield would allow the Oklahoma Historical Society Board to set entrance fees for museums without the Legislature's approval.

    -SB 542 by Sen. Rick Littlefield would allow the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission to establish entrance or day use charges at state parks.

  • The House also focused on committee action, and approved the following measures:

    -HB 1278 by Rep. Ron. Kirby calls for a vote of the people to establish a state lottery for education. The committee substitute for HB 1278 was approved 5-4.

    -HB 1353 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman would allow the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission to charge park entrance fees for day users. The bill, which is aimed at providing funding for capitol improvements to the parks, was approved.

    -HB 1748 by Rep. Bill Nations would allow public colleges and universities to raise tuition. The measure was approved by committee.

    -HB 1528 by Rep. Fred Perry would make it illegal to initiate an electronic mail transmission containing information in the subject line which is different and misrepresents the content of the actual message. Violators could receive a fine of up to $500. The measure was approved.

    -HB 1691 by Rep. Frank Davis would require all commercial e-mail messages initiated in this state to include a toll-free telephone number or valid return e-mail address enabling the recipient to notify the sender not to transmit further unsolicited messages. Violators would face a fine of up to $500. The measure was approved.

Thursday, February 13th

  • 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 17th at 1:30 p.m.

Other News

  • Several thousand Oklahoma teachers, administrators, students and parents held a rally at the State Capitol on Wednesday to bring attention to the education funding crisis facing public schools in Oklahoma. The rally coincided with a house committee's passage of a measure to let the public vote on a state lottery for education.

  • Senator Charles Ford issued a statement thanking his fellow members and others for their prayers and expressions of concerns following his hospitalization for a heart attack. Senator Ford said he was home resting and would be back at work at the State Capitol as soon as possible.