For the week of Monday,
February 17 to Thursday, February 20, 2003
- The Senate convened at 1:30 p.m.
on Monday. Shawnee Attorney Charlie Laster was sworn in to office
to complete the remaining two years of the District 17 seat vacated
by Governor Brad Henry. The Senate adjourned shortly after the
ceremony to allow committees to continue working through measures.
Among those receiving approval:
-SB 826 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson
creating the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security. Senator Wilkerson
explained it was important to have an official at the state level
who was authorized to receive information from the federal government
and to coordinate efforts in the event of an attack on American
-SB 696 by Sen. Wilkerson would
require the Department of Health to provide vaccinations to "at-risk"
personnel and require those individuals to receive vaccinations.
-SB 595, committee substitute,
by Sen. Keith Leftwich aimed at so-called "zero-tolerance"
policies by requiring school suspension policies to consider specific
factors when decided whether to suspend a student.
-SB 375 by Sen. Sam Helton
would create the "Oklahoma Speed Trap Law." The measure
would prohibit municipalities from setting up speed traps strictly
to raise revenue. The measure was approved with the title stricken.
- Although the House also focused
attention on measures awaiting committee action, they did approve
six bills on the floor on Monday including the following:
-HB 1408 by Rep. Susan Winchester
would allow two or more school districts to enter into a cooperative
agreement for the purpose of forming buying pools and purchasing
-HB 1133 by Rep. Joe Eddins
would allow school district personnel to recommend medical evaluation
to parents or legal guardians without being liable for associated
costs. The recommendation evaluations must concern a student found
not to be reading at the appropriate grade level in a situation
when educators are concerned that an undiagnosed health problem
could be a factor.
-HB 1259 by Rep. Dale Wells
would award visitation rights to grandparents after a showing
that the parent is unfit or that the child would suffer harm or
potential harm if visitation rights were not granted. If evidence
of domestic abuse or child abuse by the grandparents is found,
those visitations could be denied.
- On Tuesday, the State Equalization
Board met to give its final certification of available revenue
for the FY '04 budget. The board certified $4,357,629,227 would
be available for the legislature to appropriate. With that certification,
lawmakers must deal with a budget shortfall of $677.6 million
Numerous measures were considered by Senate committees on Tuesday
-SJR 22 by Sen. Cal Hobson proposing a vote of the people to ensure
funds generated as a result of a possible state lottery would
be earmarked for education.
-SB 539 by Sen. Glenn Coffee creating the "Use of Credit
Information in Personal Insurance Act." The measure would
forbid insurance companies to make decisions about rates or coverage
solely based upon the client's credit rating.
-SB 616 by Sen. Jerry Smith would require victims and witnesses
to be informed on commutation of sentence including commutation
of a sentence of life without parole. The measure was approved
with the title stricken.
-SB 283 by Sen. Charles Ford would create a tax credit for teachers
who use their own money to purchase supplies for the classroom.
The measure was approved, with the title stricken.
-SB 353 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson would allow the manufacture,
wholesale and retail sales of low-point beer and the brewing and
wholesale of beer 3.2 and higher. The committee substitute was
approved, with the title stricken.
- The House approved a measure to
use $25.5 million from the state's "Rainy-Day Fund"
to ease budget cuts in common education. The measure passed 98
to 0 without debate. Among those measures winning committee approval
-HB 1562 by Rep. Fred Perry
would make it a felony punishable of a fine of not less than $500
and imprisonment for not less than 30 days for a person who downloads
any obscene material or child pornography. The committee substitute
-HB 1105 by Rep. Thad Balkman,
committee substitute, would authorize open containers in the passenger
area of buses and limousines.
-HB 1419 by Rep. Joe Hutchison,
committee substitute, would increase the amount of lifetime fees
pertaining to fishing, hunting and combination hunting and fishing
licenses. It would also raise the replacement fee for any lifetime
license that is lost or destroyed.
- The Senate continued to focus attention
on measures still awaiting committee action, with the Appropriations
Committee Agenda including more than 50 measures. Other bills
approved by Senate Committees on Wednesday included:
-SB 835 by Sen. Frank Shurden, committee substitute would change
the penalties included in the state ban on cockfighting approved
by voters last November. Under the bill, all violations would
be a misdemeanor and the fines would be no more than $200 for
spectators and all other violators would be fined no more than
$500 and could face up to one year in a county jail. Those violators
would include promoters, breeders and those placing bets.
-SB 542 by Sen. Rick Littlefield would remove the prohibition
on collecting fees to enter state parks. The measure was approved,
with the title stricken.
-SB 706 by Sen. Scott Pruitt would require prisons to test convicted
rapists for venereal diseases. All victims of sex crimes would
then be notified if the perpetrator tests positive for a sexually
transmitted disease. The measure also stipulates that the victim
would incur no costs for the tests, delivery or treatment of the
-SB 789, by Senator Dick Wilkerson, committee substitute, would
allow judicial review and sentence modification, including treatment
in lieu of incarceration for convictions relating to dangerous
substances, alcohol, low-point beer or any intoxicating substance.
-SJR 11 by Sen. Mike Johnson would call for a vote of the people
asking for a raise in the cap on millage that may be levied for
local support of schools upon approval of a majority of voters
in the school district.
-SB 401 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would create the Oklahoma Animal
Control Officer Certification Act and the Oklahoma Animal Control
Officer Certification Council. It would authorize the council
to adopt a training program for certification of animal control
officers and a proficiency examination.
-SB 596 by Sen. Keith Leftwich, committee substitute, proposing
that the children of undocumented immigrants graduating from Oklahoma
high schools would be eligible for a waiver of non-resident tuition
and would not be disqualified from receiving financial aid or
scholarships because of their immigration status.
- The House also focused on committee
action, and approved the following measures:
-HB 1748 by Rep. Bill Nations,
committee substitute would allow tuition at state colleges to
be based on the regional averages of similar institutions and
provide for expanding financial assistance to students.
-HB1385 by Rep. Larry Ferguson
would direct that the majority of revenues raised as a result
of a possible vote of the people on an increase in fuel prices
be directed to state highway construction and maintenance.
-HB 1460 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman
would allow consumers to buy caskets at retailers other than funeral
-HB 1014 committee substitute
by Rep. Robert Worthen, would require licensed retail sellers
of low-point beer kegs to affix an identification seal. The seal
would display an identification number and any other information
required by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
-HB 1726 by Rep. Judy McIntyre,
committee substitute, would prohibit the eligibility for tax credits
or benefits by businesses or employers who have been found to
be in violation of any state or federal law concerning unfair
labor practices. McIntyre requested her name be removed as author.
Rep. Opio Toure requested his name to be added as author.
-HB 1430 by Rep. Lance William
Cargill, committee substitute, would increase the fine for having
an open container from $50 to $500.
- The Senate met briefly before adjourning
so that committees could continue hearing legislation. Thursday
marked the final day for committee consideration of measures originating
in the Senate. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday, February
24th at 1:30 p.m.
- An estimated 2000 public employees
gathered at the State Capitol on Monday to draw attention to how
the current budget crisis could impact state employees and the
services they provide to Oklahomans. On Tuesday, Oklahoma veterans
held their annual legislative day. Senate President Pro Tempore
Cal Hobson said completing the new veteran's center in Lawton
was a top priority.
- Senator Charles Ford, President
of the State Capitol Preservation Fund, Inc. officially dedicated
two new paintings. On Tuesday, the painting "Whitetail Deer
in Choctaw Country" was unveiled. The painting given in memory
of the late State Senator John McCune by his family. On Wednesday
"Game Birds at Glass Mountain" was unveiled. Each of
the artworks commissioned by the organization depicts contemporary
or historical Oklahoma scenes, events or personalities and is
created by Oklahoma artists.