The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 16 to Thursday, February 19, 2004

Monday, February 16th

• The Senate heard SB 710 by Charlie Laster, which would require informed consent before an abortion is performed as well as the disclosure of information related to abortions. The measure failed by a vote of 19 to 26.

• The Senate did approve SB 1219 by Sen. Jim Maddox that would allow energy costs to be included in a rate’s base. The Corporation Commission would be required to take this into consideration in rate hearings.

• The deadline to hear bills in the committee of origin is this Thursday and the Senate was busy in committee meetings to meet this deadline. Among the pieces of legislation heard were the following:

-CS for SB 1307 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. Al Lindley would legalize tattooing in Oklahoma. The bill would prohibit any person under the age of 18 to receive a tattoo and would also require the Sate Board of Health to promulgate rules regulating the business. The bill passed with a 6 to 4 vote.

-SB 1561 by Sen. Harry Coates would create the Fair Pay for Construction Act. The measure would require construction contracts that last longer than 60 days to make progress payments to the contractor within 21 days after a bill is submitted to the owner. SB 1561 received a do pass recommendation.

-CS for SB 1425 by Sen. Bernest Cain would prohibit junk food in vending machines in elementary and middle schools. This measure would also require districts to promote healthy alternatives in high schools as well. The snacks must meet the standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The measure passed by a 10 to 6 vote.

-CS for SB 811 by Sen. Penny Williams would allow the State Board of Education to grant exceptions for licensure requirements for teachers who demonstrate competency in foreign language skills. The title was stricken and the measure passed by a 10 to 2 vote.

-CS for SB 1445 by Sen. Cain would require the Oklahoma State Board of Education to establish a health and fitness education program for all public school students for at least 150 minutes each week. The bill passed 11-2.

-SB 1534 by Kathleen Wilcoxson would encourage efforts to recruit teachers at high-poverty schools, low-achieving schools as well as in counties with the lowest percentage of teachers who have achieved National Board certification. The measure also requires the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation to select a specific number of teachers to teach at schools on the school improvement list as determined by the No Child Left Behind Act. The Board would also evaluate the impact of National Board certification on measured student achievement. The bill passed 10-1.

-SB 868 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would allow state employees to take a six-month unpaid leave of absence to run for a political office as well as solicit and collect donations for their campaigns. The bill passed with a 9-3 vote.

-SB 1108 by Sen. Sam Helton would exempt customer or individual payment information obtained or created by the public body in performance of a contractual agreement from the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The bill received a unanimous vote 10-0.

-CS for SB 1123 by Sen. Jeff Rabon would allow the each individual board of county commissioners to create a longevity pay program for employees of the county, excluding elected county officials. The committee approved a substitute for the bill that would also allow a county to establish a reserve fund to meet unforeseen contingencies to occur throughout the fiscal year. The bill passed with a vote of 10-0.

-CS for SB 1549 by Sen. Frank Shurden creates “Senator Keith Leftwich Day” to be the first Tuesday in February in a presidential election year. The bill received a vote of 12-0.

-SB 900 by Sen. Scott Pruitt would allow state surplus property agents to purchase weaponry from the U.S. military for state police departments. The bill passed 13-0.

-CS for SB 884 by Sen. Owen Laughlin would allow publicly owned all-terrain vehicles and golf carts to be used on city streets during daytime hours. The bill passed 9-0.

• The House heard second readings of bills on Monday, with committees considering several bills, including the following measures:

-CS for HB 2661 by Rep. Larry Adair and Sen. Cal Hobson would require attorney fees in class action lawsuits to include non-cash benefits in certain circumstances and authorize the court to decline to exercise jurisdiction in class action lawsuits and modify language relating to such actions. The committee substitute passed.

-HB 2106 by Rep. Terry Ingmire would change raise the limit of monetary disputes in small claims court to $6,000. The measure passed.

-HB 2619 by Rep. Ron Peterson would require all worker’s compensation claims to go through mediation before filing of the employee’s first notice of injury, unless a settlement has been reached between the involved parties. The bill passed.

-HB 2528 by Rep. Ray Vaughn would establish and provide for a standard child visitation schedule and advisory guidelines. The bill passed.

-HB 2714 by Rep. Opio Toure would delete the prohibition to renew licenses based on felony convictions for cosmetologists, professional engineers and land surveyors, athletic trainers and apprentices, real estate appraisers, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, professional counselors, marital and family therapists and licensed behavioral practitioners. The measure passed.

-HB 2352 as amended by Rep. Chris Benge would require individuals to posses an instruction permit for six months before being able to obtain a driver license. The bill received a do pass recommendation.

-CS for HB 1899 by Rep. John Nance would require males ages 16 to 26 to sign a consent statement for the Selective Service System when applying or renewing a driver license or identification card. The applicant may refuse to sign the document, but would be denied a driver license or identification card. The bill was given a do pass recommendation.

-HB 1862 by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew would provide a pay increase to Department of Corrections employees. The annual increase would be equal to five percent of their gross salary. The measure passed.

Tuesday, February 17th

• With attention focused on getting measures assigned and heard by committees by the February 19th deadline, the Senate met briefly on Tuesday.

Numerous measures were considered by Senate committees on Tuesday, including:

-SB 1551 by Sen. Charlie Laster would eliminate the capital gains tax on qualified Oklahoma property as well as lower the maximum income tax. The measure passed with the title stricken.

-CS for SB 1252 by Sen. Cal Hobson provides for membership and responsibilities of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission. The measure passed.

-SB 858 by Sen. Jim Reynolds would permit individuals to donate their state income tax return to pay off the State Capitol Dome debt. The measure passed.

-SB 862 by Reynolds would provide a credit to military personnel assigned out of the state for vehicle registration fee. The measure passed unanimously.

-SB 844 by Sen. Mark Snyder would change procedures for reinstatement and suspension of state-issued licenses that are deemed out of compliance with state tax laws. The measure passed.

-SB 1576 by Sen. Scott Pruitt would require a usage fee charged to out-of-state trucking companies. The fees would be paid to the Turnpike Authority. The bill passed.

-SB 1382 by Sen. Angela Monson deletes the time limit on tax credits relating to immunizing food service employees against Hepatitis A. It eliminates the sunset provision as well. The measure passed.

-CS for SB 1565 relates to the Deferred Deposit Lending Act and would provide statutory limits on receipt of payday loans. It would allow an individual to secure only one loan at a time from any lender within a 24-hour period. The bill would also allow an individual to only secure five loans in a 90-day period. The bill passed.

-SB 1197 by Sen. Mike Johnson would eliminate the earned income tax credit. The measure passed.

-SB 1170 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would eliminate the homestead exemption of an individual convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine. The bill passed.
-SB 1496 as amended by Sen. Nancy Riley would void the notice limiting certain business organizations from liability for full refunds because it is against public policy and unenforceable. The bill passed 6-0.

-CS for SB 1234 by Sen. Glenn Coffee would prohibit the recording of motion pictures without consent. The measure passed 5-0.

-SB 1373 allows expungement from victim protective orders pursuant to the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act. The bill passed 5-0.

-SB 1397 by Sen. Ben Robinson would allow civil action to be taken against a child sex offender within five years of release from incarceration. The bill passed 6-0.

-SB 1407 as amended by Coffee expands DUI violations to include private property such as parking lots or gated communities. The bill passed 5-0.

• The House on Tuesday heard second reading of bills, with committees considering several bills, including the following measures:

-HB 2471 as amended by Rep. David Braddock would require all telephone companies operating in the state to comply under the same regulations. The bill received a do pass recommendation with a vote of 21-6.

-HJR 1074 by Rep. Debbie Blackburn would prohibit the sale of water by the state and local government until a comprehensive statewide study has been completed. The bill requires a vote of the people. The measure failed 5-3.

-HB 2440 as amended by Rep. Jerry Ellis extends the water sale moratorium for a five-year period or until the Water Resources Board completes a scientific hydrological study of water resources in the state. The bill passed by a 6-4 vote.

-HB 2380 by Rep. Ron Peters would require defendants convicted of domestic violence to participate in counseling or treatment. The bill extends the punishment for violation of protective orders. The measure passed.

-HB 2110 by Rep. Ron Kirby would require sex offenders to register at the end of their parole or probationary period. The bill passed.

-HB 2710 by Rep. Opio Toure prohibits the execution of persons with severe developmental disabilities and provides for submission of the issue to the jury. The bill passed.

-HR 1028 as amended by Rep. Rebecca Hamilton memorializes U.S. Congress to initiate hearings related to the impact of adopting and ratifying legislation regarding marriage. Rep. Bill Graves passed an amendment calling for a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. The bill passed.

-CS for HB 2403 by Rep. Ray Young would create the Oklahoma Juvenile Drug Court Act, which would include every juvenile offender that has a treatable condition or addiction. The bill passed.

-HB 2363 by Rep. Lance Cargill would create the Business Court Act, which would establish a business court program. The bill passed.

Wednesday, February 18th

• The Senate heard SB 553, which creates the State-Tribal Gaming Act. The measure would allow gaming operations at three of the state racetracks with Fair Meadows of Tulsa not included due to the public trust. The tribes would compact with the state to have the same gaming machines as the three horse tracks and would pay a share of the revenues as well as an exclusivity fee on specified games to the state. The games are required to be tested by an independent laboratory and games similar to those found in Las Vegas are prohibited. SB 553 passed with a vote of 30-18 and the emergency passed by a vote of 37-11.

• Attention continued to be focused on committee action on Wednesday, with committees considering numerous measures, including the following:

-SB 1106 as amended by Sen. Kenneth Corn would increase the amount of
flexible benefit allowance for school district employees to 100 percent of the
premium amount for the HealthChoice option plan for an individual offered by
the State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board. The bill passed.

-SB 1490 by Sen. Mike Morgan and Rep. Larry Roberts would provide state funded grants to families with children age 6 or under as an incentive to move out of lead-contaminated areas. The affected area would have to be identified on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List in order to be qualified for the grants. The measure received a do pass recommendation from Appropriations.

-The following bills also passed the Senate Appropriations Committee:

-CS for SB 756 as amended by Sen. Penny Williams would create summer academic programs for students not prepared to advance to the next grade level.

-SB 1105 as amended by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm would create the State Employee Advocacy Rights Act and would allow employee organizations to schedule meetings before or after work or during lunch hours on state property. The bill would also authorize communication between employees via E-mail.

-SB 1114 as amended by Sen. Scott Pruitt would change the annual deadline for reporting a school district’s income and expenditures to September 1st.

-CS for SB 1172 by Sen. Kenneth Corn enables the Oklahoma District Attorney to prosecute for child endangerment if any physical evidence of meth by-products are found on an article of the child’s clothing, toy, etc. If the accused is convicted of child endangerment, the Department of Human Services will take custody of the child.

-SB 1212 by Sen. Jim Maddox states legislative intent for continuation of funding for the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative and creates the Oklahoma Wind Power Assessment Committee.

-CS for SB 1347 as amended by Sen. Mark Snyder, Penny Williams and Rep. Dale Wells would create the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Act and would create a committee within the authority of the Oklahoma Historical Society to make recommendations for the implementation of art in public places.

-SB 1374 as amended by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield permits the county sheriff to collect DNA samples.

-CS for SB 1385 as amended by Sen. Gilmer Capps exempts information collected by the Office of Public Management from public and private sector employers from the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The bill also require a quality management function to be created within OPM to assist state agencies in integrating positive management models.

-CS for SB 1413 as amended by Sen. Glenn Coffee would remove time limitations in relation to rape. The bill includes sodomy performed by a school employee on a child among the forcible sodomy definitions, regardless of whether or not the act was consensual.

-SB 1471 as amended by Sen. Morgan creates a seven-member commission to review contracts between out-of-state vendors and private prison contractors that house out-of-state inmates.

-CS for SB 1474 as amended by Sen. Cliff Aldridge would require one teacher and one administrator in each school receive CPR training and prohibit additional liability against the school district or employee for injury or death of a student.

-CS for SB 1580 as amended by Sen. Ted Fisher and Rep. Jari Askins requires OPM to implement direct deposit for employees hired after June 30, 2004 and employees must participate by June 30, 2007.

-SB 1607 as amended by Sen. Charlie Laster creates the Oklahoma Human Cloning Prohibition Act, which makes it unlawful to perform or participate in human cloning. If convicted an individual could be fined up to $1 million and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years.

-SJR 37 as amended by Sen. Richard Lerblance calls for a vote of the people to remove the Governor from the parole process and gives authority to the Pardon and Parole Board to grant paroles for criminal felony offenses, restore civil rights upon receiving a pardon by the Governor for a criminal offense and require a report to the Legislature each regular session for all pardons, paroles, commutations and reprieves.

-SJR 48 as amended by Sen. Debbe Leftwich directs the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth to work with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections to study the living conditions of children of incarcerated mothers.

• The House also focused on committee action, and approved the following measures:

-CS for HB 2660 by Rep. Larry Adair and Sen. Cal Hobson provides for a levy of tax on sale of cigarettes and provides for apportionment of funds. The bill creates the Comprehensive Cancer Center Bond Fund. The measure would increase Oklahoma’s sales tax on cigarettes by approximately 52 cents. The measure passed.

-CS for HB 2659 by Rep. Fred Perry would provide a $5,000 tax credit for expenses associated with the care of a disabled child under the age of 18. The bill passed.

-CS for HB 2112 by Rep. Ron Kirby would increase the amount of income tax exemption for public and private sector retirement benefits. The measure would also eliminate the age requirements for qualification for the private sector exemption and increase the income threshold for qualification for the private sector exemption. The bill passed.

-HB 2335 by Rep. Barbara Staggs would exclude construction and installation of cellular towers from definition of telecommunications services. The measure received a do pass recommendation.

-CS for HB 2331 by Rep. Neil Brannon requires a person convicted of production of methamphetamines to permanently forfeit their homestead exemption. The bill passed.

-HB 2215 by Rep. Chris Hastings would require commercial enterprises that send emails to consumers for the purpose of asking the recipient to buy or rent products to place an “unsubscribe” link on the email. The measure passed.

-CS for HB 1136 by Rep. Joan Greenwood would prohibit schools from hiring any teacher to teach the subjects of English, science or social studies in grades seventh and eighth unless the individual is licensed or certified to teach middle or secondary level English, social studies or science. The measure passed.

-HB 1818 by Reps. Randall Erwin, Jerry Hefner, Joe Hutchison, Mike Mass and Bob Plunk would appropriate $3 million to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to implement the Community Expansion for Nutrition Assistance program for independent senior centers across the state. The bill passed.

-HB 2317 as amended by Rep. Larry Rice would allow for the transfer of real estate, armories, or building for a public purpose from the Oklahoma Military Department to a municipality, county, state agency or other public entities. The bill passed.

-HB 2382 as amended by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew creates the Oklahoma Trauma Care System Advisory Council. The measure passed.

-HB 2495 by Rep. Mike Wilt would exempt vendors of farmers markets from obtaining a license from the Department of Health. The bill passed.

-CS for HB 2534 by Rep. Purcy Walker would require informed and voluntary consent before an abortion can be performed, except in the case of a medical emergency. The measure passed.

-HB 2134 by Rep. Ron Peters deletes requirements for pre-marriage blood tests and requires the marriage officiator to return the license. The bill passed.

-HB 2178 by Rep. John Nance and Sen. Dick Wilkerson states finding of probably cause may be based upon hearsay evidence in whole or in part. The measure was heard on the House floor but failed by a vote of 15 to 82.

-Other measures heard on the floor of the House of Representatives were:

-HB 2176 by Nance and Wilkerson would add psuedoephedrine to the Schedule 5 narcotics list and clarify release procedures for certain person. The measure passed by a vote of 99-0.

-HCR 1051 by Rep. Ray McCarter and Sen. Sam Helton names U.S. Highway 70 after Highway Patrolman Nick Green.-HB 2159 as amended by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew and Sen. Robert Milacek would require motorists to drive in the right hand land of any four-lane divided highway system except when passing. The bill provides a minimum fine of $50 to a maximum of $500 for those found in violation. The measure passed 98-0.

-HB 2663 by Rep. Adair and Sen. Corn would allow candidates to file declaration of candidacy for school board elections in the county in which they reside. The measure passed by a vote of 97-0.

Thursday, February 19th

• The Senate met briefly at 9:00 a.m. before adjourning so that committees could continue hearing legislation to meet the 5pm deadline. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday, February 23rd at 1:30 p.m.

Other News

• Tuesday February 17th the State Equalization Board certified appropriations for FY 2005 at $5.176 billion for the Legislature. The proposed amount is $22.5 million above FY-04 appropriations. Scott Meacham, Secretary of Finance and Revenue stated that there would not be additional budget cuts and a deposit of $101.2 million would be made into the Rainy Day Fund.

• Country music star, Oklahoma native and horseman Toby Keith held a news conference with Governor Brad Henry in support of SB 553, the gaming measure designed to save Oklahoma’s horse industry and provide a boost to the education system. Keith told reporters “By voting yes on this bill, Oklahoma legislators have an opportunity to rescue an important industry, give more money to our school kids and regulate the gaming facilities that are operating in our state.”