The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, April 7 to Thursday, April 10, 2003

Monday, April 7th

• Governor Brad Henry signed a dozen House and Senate measures into law on Monday, including a group of bills to give emergency supplemental appropriations to the Department of Corrections, the Office of State Finance, the Office of Juvenile Affairs and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Other measures signed by the governor included SB 575 by Senator Daisy Lawler and Representative Elmer Maddux authorizing the Department Corrections to create a pilot program to teach inmates to read using phonetics and HB 1105 by Rep. Thad Balkman and Senator Maxine Horner which will authorize open containers in the passenger area of buses and limousines.

• The Senate convened at 1:30 p.m. on Monday to begin the three week cycle for floor action on House measures. The Senate did take a few minutes to pay tribute to Midwest City third-grader Ciara Mitchell. Senator Cliff Aldridge presented Ciara with a Citation of Appreciation for saving the life of a fellow classmate by using the Heimlich maneuver. After, members began working through measures on General Order. Among those approved on Monday:

-HB 1650 by Sen. Nancy Riley and Rep. Sue Tibbs which would allow the creation of a “reverse” 911 system to be used by public agencies to notify the public of an emergency or provide other information.

-HB 1691 by Sen. Glenn Coffee and Rep. Frank Davis would modify the civil penalty relating to fraudulent electronic mail. The measure would make it unlawful to send an e-mail without a return telephone number or e-mail address. It would also require senders to remove certain e-mails from their list when notified and it would make it illegal to assist in the transmission of specified unsolicited commercial e-mails.

-HB 1005 by Sen. Robert Milacek and Rep. Elmer Maddux would increase the maximum travel distance for moving a house or building to 100 miles on highways when consistent with pubic safety.

• Likewise, the House focused much of its attention on floor action on measures from the opposite chamber. Members voted against Senate Bill 779 by Representative Bill Nations and Senator Bernest Cain which would have reduced the penalty for first time marijuana use from a felony to a misdemeanor. Nations held the bill on the House calendar on a motion to reconsider the 13-84 vote. Other measures winning approval were:

-SB 357 by Rep. Jim Wilson and Sen. Herb Rozell which would modify the area of Scenic Rivers Commission and commission membership.

-SB 447 by Rep. Bill Paulk and Sen. Daisy Lawler would prohibit modifying coverage or issuing new coverage for an accident and health insurance policy without written consent from the policy holder.

-SB 322 by Rep. Larry Rice and Sen. Cal Hobson would require the Corporation Commission to notify state environmental agencies of groundwater and soil contamination.

Tuesday, April 8th

• On Tuesday, Governor Henry signed six measures into law, including HB 1068 by Representative Ray Miller and Senator Herb Rozell, changing the number of members on the State Board of Career and Technology Education as well as requiring a high school diploma in order to serve on that board.

• Senate committees continued working on House measures on third reading. Among those measures winning approval on Tuesday:

-HB 1034 by Sen. Sam Helton and Rep. Richard Lerblance would remove regulatory authority from the Department of Health for nursing facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those facilities would be regulated by the Oklahoma War Veterans Commission.

-HB 1528 by Sen. Glenn Coffee and Rep. Fred Perry would make it illegal to send emails with a false or misleading subject line.

-HB 1408 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Susan Winchester would allow two or more school districts to enter into an interlocal cooperative agreement for the purpose of forming buying pools and purchasing cooperatives.

-HB 1043 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. M.C. Leist deals with siblings and visitation rights. Under the legislation, the court could require or provide for visitation between siblings unless it determines that visitation is not in the best interest of the child.

• The House of Representatives gave its approval to the following Senate measures :

-SB 565 by Rep. Mike Reynolds and Sen. Glenn Coffee would require computer technicians to report any instance of child pornography they come across on any machine they are asked to repair.

-SB 280 by Rep. Carolyn Coleman and Sen. Jim Reynolds would rename a portion of State Highway 77H as the Pearl Harbor/USS Oklahoma Memorial Highway. It would also change the name of the Keystone Expressway in Tulsa to the Sand Springs Expressway.

-SB 231 by Rep. Kevin Calvey and Sen. Jim Reynolds would exempt from lien tax sale certain property of individuals defined as “totally disabled.”

-SB 715 by Rep. Ray Miler and Sen. Kenneth Corn would require contracts for employment of a teacher or administrator by a district board of education to be more specific and uniform.

Wednesday, April 9th

• The full Senate continued working through House measures awaiting floor action and approved the follow bills:

-HB 1406 by Sen. Jerry Smith and Rep. Opio Toure would allow citizens who had been incarcerated but later proven to be innocent to seek civil damages in the amount of $175,000.

-HB 1106 by Sen. Angela Monson and Rep. Thad Balkman would increase the permit fees and license taxes for low-point beer. Retailers who obtained a permit before July 1, 2003 would not be subject to the increases until the renewal of the license. The additional revenues from the increases would be used to create the Community-Based Substance Abuse Revolving Fund.

-HB 1259 by Sen. Scott Pruitt, Sen. James Williamson and Rep. Dale Wells would award visitation rights to grandparents of unmarried children after showing the parent is unfit or the child would suffer harm or potential harm if visitation rights were not granted.

-HB 1110 by Sen. Jim Reynolds and Rep. Al Lindley would require that no state or county prison or jail be located within 1,000 feet of any church or established neighborhood.

-HB 1271 by Sen. Keith Leftwich and Rep. Jim Newport would delete the requirement that consumer names be placed on the Telemarketer Restriction Registry and exempt the registry from the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

-HB 1782 by Sen. Sam Helton and Rep. Lucky Lamons would remove the provision allowing disabled drivers to stop on a main road or highway, and require that vehicle operators remove the vehicle or its cargo from the regular flow of traffic. It would also allow law enforcement officers to move cargo and vehicles off the roadway without liability.

• Measures winning approval in the House of Representatives on Wednesday included:

-SB 355 by Rep. Michael Tyler and Sen. Daisy Lawler would provide for a special decal for motorcycle license plates for owners who are physically disabled.

-SB 464 by Rep. Michael Tyler and Sen. Keith Leftwich would authorize the Oklahoma Transportation Authority to develop and market alternative uses of their Electronic Toll Collection System.

-SB 835 by Representative Randall Erwin and Senator Frank Shurden would modify the punishment for cockfighting.

-SB 386 by Rep. Ray Miller and Sen. Ben Robinson would create the Oklahoma Barge Traffic Safety Advisory Task Force.

Thursday, April 9th

• The Senate continued working through House measures on Thursday morning. The deadline for floor action on bills from the opposite chamber is Thursday, April 24th. The Senate will reconvene at 10:00 p.m. Monday, April 14th.

Other News

• Governor Brad Henry and legislative leaders of both parties announced they had reached an agreement on a $5.09 billion state budget for fiscal year 2004. The agreement includes more than $227 million dollars in revenue enhancements in an effort to lessen the impact of the budget shortfall. The agreement will still result in deep cuts for some areas of government.

• Jane Jayroe, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation announced her resignation effective Friday, April 11th. The former Miss American and television news anchor was initially appointed to the position in 1999 by former Governor Frank Keating. Jayroe had already resigned her position as cabinet secretary.

• On Wednesday, the House and Senate announced their assignments for the General Conference Committee on Appropriations. The joint committee and subcommittees will determine the final appropriations to each state funded agency that will make up the Oklahoma’s FY 2004 budget. All legislative action, including final passage of all appropriations measures, must be completed no later than 5 p.m., Friday May 30th.