For the week of Monday, March
10 to Thursday, March 13, 2003
Monday, March 10th
- With just four days remaining to complete
Senate action on measures from the house of origin, more than 100 bills
remained on General Order. The Senate convened at 10:00 a.m. and worked
until nearly 5 p.m. on those measures. Among those approved:
-SB 566 by Sen. Ben Robinson would
prohibit smoking in public places with exemptions for such things as
stand-alone bars, cigar bars and 25 percent of hotel rooms. The measure
passed on reconsideration by a vote of 35-15 after being narrowly defeated
the previous week.
-SJR 21 by Sen. Cal Hobson also would
prohibit smoking in public places with specified exemptions. As originally
introduced, the measure would have referred the proposal to a vote of
the people. The current version would require approval by both chambers
and the governor to take effect.
-SB 216 by Sen. Owen Laughlin would
allow teachers and superintendents to contract with more than one school
district in a year.
-SB 447 by Sen. Daisy Lawler would
prohibit insurance companies from using telephone solicitation to modify
a customer's existing coverage.
-SB 785 by Sen. Angela Monson would
direct the state Commissioner of Health to assemble a task force on
Hepatitis C to address issues such as public awareness, testing and
treatment as well as funding sources and the legal issues of public
-SB 799 by Sen. Penny Williams would
create the "Task Force 2007 Act." The panel would be charged
with preparing a long-range plan for improving educational opportunities
in Oklahoma by the year 2007.
- While there was speculation that Representative
Ron Kirby's lottery bill could be brought up for reconsideration on
Monday, the measure was not heard. Among those measures that were voted
on and approved:
-HB 1353, floor substitute by Rep.
Carolyn Coleman would allow the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission
to charge park entrance fees for day users. The bill was approved but
the emergency failed; Rep Coleman lodged a motion to reconsider the
vote on the emergency on a future legislative day.
-HB 1430 by Rep. Lance Cargill would
increase the fine from $50 to $500 for people who drive with open containers
of alcoholic beverages in their vehicles.
-HB 1675 by Rep. Debbie Blackburn
calls for the State Board of Education to create a central purchasing
program. All school districts would be required to coordinate school
bus acquisitions through the purchasing program.
Tuesday, March 11th
- The Senate convened at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday,
with more than 90 bills on General Order still awaiting action. Among
the legislation winning approval:
-SB 835 by Sen. Frank Shurden, calling for a vote of the people on whether
to change penalties for violating the statewide ban on cockfighting
from a felony to a misdemeanor.
-SB 762 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson would restore a statute aimed at reducing
prison crowding by letting inmates out at least 60 days early. Under
the "Capacity Activated Powers Act," or "Cap" law
as it was once known before it was repealed, The Department of Corrections
would request the governor to declare a state of emergency if population
in the prisons exceeds 95 percent of state-owned bed space for 30 consecutive
-SB 288 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm would establish a moratorium on issuance
of temporary permits for use of groundwater.
-SB 373 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson would require title companies to
provide copies of all recorded covenants.
- The House also had a full agenda. However
much of the days attention was focused on a more than three hour debate
after Rep. Ron Kirby tried for a second time to win passage for HB 1278.
The measure was finally approved by a 52 to 49 margin. Other measures
willing approval by the House on Tuesday included:
-HB 1710 by Rep. Larry Roberts would allow only non-fiscal retirement
bills to be heard in the first session of the Legislature. The measure
was approved 98-1 with the title stricken.
-HB 1496 by Rep. Joe Sweeden would
allow agencies to acquire items as needed for agency operations from
local suppliers when it is more efficient or economical than suppliers
on a state-wide contract.
-HB 1151 by Rep. Dale Smith would
add language to the teacher preparation program for administrators to
have skills in effective classroom management and student discipline.
Wednesday, March 12th
- On Wednesday the Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee on Education approved a measure to allow Oklahoma colleges
and universities to raise their tuition. HB 1748 by Representative Bill
Nations and Senator Mike Morgan would allow those institutions to raise
their tuition to that of the average of schools in the Big 12 Conference.
The full Senate continued working toward the Thursday deadline for floor
action on measures from the house of origin. Among those winning approval:
-SJR 22 by Sen. Cal Hobson calls for a vote of the people on proposed
constitutional amendment earmarking proceeds from an education lottery,
if one is approved.
-SB 625 by Sen. Daisy Lawler would broaden existing laws for dropping
objects off overpasses onto vehicles. The new language would expand
the existing felony to throwing objects off bridges as well as overpasses,
or throwing objects onto non-moving vehicles on roadways and adds a
fine of up to $10,000 to the existing 10 year prison sentence.
-SB 212 by Sen. Angela Monson would allow state employees to take up
to six months unpaid leave to run for office.
-SB 706 by Sen. Scott Pruitt would require that all victims of sex crimes
be notified if the attacker tests positive for sexually transmitted
disease and that the victim would incur no costs for tests, delivery
or treatment of the disease.
-SB 715 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would make the requirements for contracts
for employment of a teacher or administrator more uniform, as well as
requiring pay information to employees more specific.
- The full House also continued to focus
on bills still awaiting floor action. Among those measures winning approval:
-HB 1385 by Rep. Larry Ferguson would
call for a vote of the people on a proposal to raise the motor fuel
tax on gasoline and diesel to address highway needs throughout the state.
-HB 1720 by Rep. Chris Hastings would
create the "Nursing Facility Mediation Act." The proposed
measure would allow district courts to appoint and specify certain authority
of an impartial mediator for civil cases brought under the "nursing
Home Care Act."
-HB 1790 by Rep. Jerry Hefner would
prohibit any organization under the Oklahoma Charity Games Act from
expending more than a certain amount of the total revenues collected
in conducting charity games, excluding salaries and payouts, for expenses.
The measure passed with the title stricken.
Thursday, March 13th
- The Senate convened at 9:30 a.m. to conclude
work on measures still on General Order. The Senate will reconvene at
1:30 p.m. Monday, March 17th.
- State Senator Gene Stipe resigned his
District 7 seat on Tuesday issuing the following statement to the media:
"I feel it is time I leave the
Senate and concentrate on other pending matters. Though this decision
was difficult for me personally, I will not permit this to be a time
of sorrow or ill feeling. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity
to serve my state and my party for more than half a century. While the
past year has been one of heartache for me and my family, I choose to
spend this time reflecting on the many positive advancements I helped
enact on behalf of my constituents and, for that matter, neighbors throughout
"The legislature of Oklahoma,
both the House and the Senate, in which I have served all my adult life,
are dedicated and strong to well represent the people of Oklahoma. I
will leave with best wishes and God's speed to the government of the
great State of Oklahoma."
"In the meantime, I have stories
to tell and books to write."
Stipe's resignation came in the midst of a Federal campaign investigation
into former State Representative Walt Robert's unsuccessful 1998 congressional