The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, April 28 to Thursday, May 1, 2003

Monday, April 28th

• Governor Brad Henry signed the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness into law on Monday. House Bill 1094 by Representatives Ron Peters, Darrell Gilbert and Senator Ted Fisher would help optimize public and private sector programs aimed at promoting early childhood education.

• The Senate focused much of its attention on measures which had been amended by the House of Representatives. One measure sent to conference committee was Senate Bill 492 by Sen. Scott Pruitt and Representative Susan Winchester. The measure would require that any entity that provides health insurance must compare data in its files with those provided by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. House language added to the bill included “informed consent” requirements for women considering abortion procedures. Senate leaders warned the amendment would result in some $373,000 in additional costs to the OHCA.

• House amendments were rejected for several other bills, which were also sent to conference. Measures approved with House amendments and sent to the governor included:

-SB 3 by Sen. Keith Leftwich and Rep. Dan Boren which would change the date of the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday following the New Hampshire Primary.

-SB 586 by Sen. J. Berry Harrison and Rep. Barbara Staggs would add donor cards, creating an Oklahoma donor registry known as the “Life Share Donor Registry.”

-SB 817 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson and Rep. Jari Askins would require assessment, evaluation, treatment and instruction upon conviction of a DUI.

• The House accepted Senate amendments to seven measures which were then sent to the governor for consideration. Those bills included:

-HB 1146 by Rep. Thad Balkman and Sen. Jim Reynolds which would require state environmental agencies and public utilities to keep information relating to vulnerability assessments of critical assets in water and wastewater systems confidential.

-HB 1268 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert and Sen. Bernest Cain would modify the Utilization of Unused Prescription Medications Act relating to unused medication.

-HB 1313 by Rep. William Paulk and Sen. Dick Wilkerson would create the homeland security bomb squad.

-HB 1393 by Rep. Mike Reynolds and Sen. Cliff Aldridge would require verification of payment of franchise taxes for those doing business with the state.

Tuesday, April 29th

• On Tuesday, Governor Brad Henry Senate Bill 312 into law. The measure, authored by Senator Mike Morgan and Representative Debbie Blackburn would protect funds in an Oklahoma College Savings Plan account from judgments handed down against the individual who opened the account.

• Measure approved by the Senate on Tuesday included:

-SB 192 by Sen. Mike Morgan, Sen. Ben Robinson, Rep. Jack Bonny and Rep. Bill Mitchell which would make an appropriation to the state Special Cash Fund. The money comes from federal funding that will be sent to the state Election Board due to Oklahoma’s standing as one of five states that modernized election equipment prior to the 2000 elections.

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

-SB 395 from Sen. James Dunlap and Rep. Susan Winchester would add the topic of terrorism to the list of topics which can be discussed during executive sessions.

-SB 353 by Sen. Charles Ford, Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson and Rep. Joe Dorman which would allow the manufacture, wholesale and retail of low-point beer and the brewing and wholesale of beer above 3.2 in Oklahoma.
• Among those measures winning approval in the House on Tuesday:

-HB 1575 by Rep. Joe Dorman and Sen. Sam Helton which would prohibit government officials from entering into contracts with entities in which the member or the spouse of the member has an ownership interest. It would also ban board members from entering into a contract with a company, individual or business concern in which the member or the spouse of the member has an ownership interest.

-HB 1368 by Rep. Tad Jones and Sen. Scott Pruitt would make the bartering or selling of a grave marker illegal.

Wednesday, April 30th

• Governor Brad Henry signed the following bills into law on Wednesday, including the following:

-SB 175 by Sen. Mike Morgan and Rep. Bill Mitchell which would freeze the pay of county election board secretaries at current levels, setting aside raises from $800, to 9,327 that had been scheduled to go into effect on May 1st.

-SB 192 by Sen. Mike Morgan and Rep. Bill Mitchell which makes appropriations to the state Special Cash Fund.

• The Senate accepted House amendments and gave final approval to the following measures:

-SB 837 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. Don Armes would allow certain charitable and non-profit organizations hold raffles once a statewide lottery is approved.

-SB 19 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. M.C. Leist which would make the creation of a governor’s cabinet system no longer mandatory.

-SB 276 by Sen. Keith Leftwich and Rep. Al Lindley would restrict notaries public from giving legal advice unless otherwise qualified to do so.

-SB 673 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield and Rep. Paul Roan would provide a penalty for impersonating a police officer.

• On Wednesday, The House gave final approval to the following measures:

-SB 175 by Sen. Mike Morgan and Rep. Bill Mitchell freezing county election board secretary salaries.

-HB 1007 by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew and Sen. Angela Monson which would mandate that specified historic flags, including the confederate flag, would be displayed at the State Historical Society rather than the south plaza of the Capitol.

-HB 1103 by Rep. Darrell Gilbert and Sen. Ben Robinson would provide for the designation of a treatment advocate for mental health patients.

Thursday, May 1st

• Thursday marked the final day for Senators to reject House amendments to bills. The Senate will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 5th.

Other News

• An independent audit of the state’s Underground Storage Tank Indemnity Fund was released on Monday. Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, who authored legislation last year authorizing the audit, said the report raised a number of concerns about the management of the fund. The fund was originally created to help pay for the repair of underground storage tanks. Senator Hobson said the next step would be for the Attorney General to investigate issues raised by the audit.