The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 24 to Thursday, February 27, 2003


Monday, February 24th

  • The Senate convened at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. Among the measures approved was HB 1240 by Sen. Mike Morgan and Sen. Ben Robinson making an appropriation of $25.5 million from the state's constitutional reserve fund. The money will be used to reduce budget cuts for public education. Other measures receiving approval by the full Senate included:

    -SB 3 by Sen. Keith Leftwich, changing the date of the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to the third Tuesday following the New Hampshire Primary.

    -SB 240 by Sen. Keith Leftwich amending the Telemarketer Restriction Act to ensure the confidentiality of the registry and ensure it would not be subject to the Open Records Act.

    -SB 660 by Sen. Glenn Coffee is aimed at reducing unsolicited emails known as "spam." The measure would prohibit transmission of certain electronic mail messages, provide for recovery of specific costs and certain damages for individuals receiving those messages.

  • The House also focused on measures awaiting action by the full chamber. Among those measures gaining approval:

    -HB 1751 by Rep. Susan Winchester would make it illegal for an insurance company to deny, cancel or refuse to renew a personal insurance policy solely on the basis of credit information or base renewal rates for personal insurance exclusively upon a customer's credit rating.

    -HB 1058 by Rep. Jerry Ellis would add talking about wrongful activity to "print or electronic media" to the governor, members of the Legislature or other persons in a position to investigate or initiate corrective action under the "Whistleblower Act."

    -HR 1002 by Rep. Abe Deutschendorf would implement the Amber Plan by establishing electronic billboards at all interstate entrances.

    -HB 1001 by Rep. Danny Hilliard would allow for a lawfully appointed personal representative of any deceased candidate to withdraw that candidate's name from the ballot.

    -HB 1139 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert would authorize the board of county commissioners to determine a curfew which would apply to all unincorporated areas of that county.

Tuesday, February 25th

  • On Tuesday, the Senate approved more than 200 measures, most of which were appropriations measures. All of the appropriations measures approved by the Senate were authored by Appropriations Chairman Mike Morgan and Vice-Chairman Ben Robinson. Among those bills winning approval:

    -SB 276 by Sen. Keith Leftwich would prohibit notary publics from providing legal advice on any proceeding in relation to immigration or citizenship. The measure is aimed at notary publics who may present themselves to Spanish-speaking immigrants as being qualified to legally represent them in obtaining immigration or citizenship status.

    -SB 283 by Sen. Charles Ford creating a tax credit for educators who use their own money to purchase supplies for the classroom. The bill allows teachers a credit of on to $1,500 spent for classroom supplies, but the author said it may be amended to reduce the credit to $500 a year.

    -SB 20 making an appropriation to the State Board of Career and Technology Education.

    -SB 21 would include the budget for the State Board of Career and Technology Education.

    -SB 22 would make an appropriation to the State Department of Education.

    -SB 26 would make an appropriation for the Oklahoma School of Science and Math.

  • The House approved nine appropriations bills on Tuesday, authored by Rep. Bill Mitchell, including:

    -HB 1171 making an appropriation to the Department of Central Services.

    -HB 1172 making an appropriation to the Department of Civil Emergency Management.

    -HB 1173 making an appropriation to the State Election Board.

    -HB 1175 making an appropriation to the Office of the Governor.

    -HB 1176 making an appropriation to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

  • Substantive measures approved included:

    -HB 1784 by Rep. Randall Erwin calling for a vote of the people to lower the penalty for cockfighting from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    -HB 1140 by Rep. Ron Peters would establish a special volunteer medical license for physicians retired from active practice but wishing to donate their expertise for the medical care and treatment of indigent and needy persons.

    -HB 1734 by Rep. Dale Wells would create the Bryar Wheeler Act. The bill would add convicted felons, alcoholics, drug addicts and the mentally unstable to the list of those who would be unfit guardians of children.

Wednesday, February 26th

  • The Senate continued working through measures on General Order. Among those measures winning approval by the full Senate:

    -SB 282 by Sen. Ben Robinson proposes payment on a credit card account would be credited by the card company no later than the post-marked date on the payment. The measure also proposes that no late charge can be imposed when the minimum payment was mailed by the due date.

    -SB 312 by Sen. Mike Morgan would exempt interest earned in an Oklahoma College Savings Plan from forced sale to pay for debts.

    -SB 596 by Sen. Keith Leftwich proposing that all Oklahoma high school graduates be permitted to enroll and attend an institution of higher education and qualify for scholarships and student aid regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

    -SB 601 by Sen. Jerry Smith would add financial institutions to the list of those responsible for reporting abuse, neglect or exploitation to the Department of Human Services. The report would have to include the name of the adult's caretaker or person holding power of attorney for the adult. The OSBI would keep a record of reports of abuse.

  • The House of Representatives approved numerous bills on Wednesday, including the following measures:

    -HB 1748, floor substitute, by Rep. Bill nations would allow the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education to raise state college and university tuition to a rate not to exceed the regional average.

    -HB1030 by Rep. Greg Piatt would authorize a board of education of a technology center school district to hold meetings by video conferencing.

    -HB 1313, floor substitute, by Rep. William Paulk relates to homeland security; providing for certification of bomb dogs.

    -HB 1691 by Rep. Frank Davis modifying civil penalties relating to fraudulent electronic mail and making it unlawful to send a commercial electronic mail message without a return telephone number or email address.

Thursday, February 27th

  • The Senate convened at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Majority Leader Ted Fisher announced there were still more than 283 measures on general order still awaiting floor action by the March 13th deadline for bills from the house of origin. The Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 3rd.

Other News

  • A report claiming the state could save up to $150 million a year by lowering its incarceration rates through reforms of sentencing laws and imprisoning fewer non-violent offenders. The report was the result of a request by the State Senate and was prepared by university professors from OU, OCU Law School, and OSU. The study noted that Oklahoma's crime rate is only slightly higher than the national average, but that it consistently ranks in the top three or four in the nation in incarceration rates. The report noted Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation for female offenders. The study noted Oklahoma's overall incarceration rate is 658 per 100,000, compared to a national average of 422 per 100,000.