The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February 23 to Thursday, February 26, 2004

Monday, February 23rd

• The deadline to have bills heard in the committee from the house of origin was February 19th, therefore requiring the Senate to take floor action on the 700 bills that made it out of their respective committees. The deadline for 3rd reading in the house of origin is March 11th.

• The Senate approved the following bills on Monday:

-SB 845 by Senators Harry Coates and Charles Ford and Rep. Chris Benge would allow private investors to enter into agreements with the Oklahoma Transportation Authority to develop private commercial property located along the turnpike system. The bill would allow motorist access to the commercial property without leaving the turnpike system. The bill passed 26-18.

-SB 7 by Sen. Gilmer Capps and Rep. Robert Worthen declares the Oklahoma Rose as the official state flower. The bill passed 44-0.

-SB 879 by Sen. Capps and Rep. Jack Bonny would change the maximum term of rural water district director to six years. The bill and the emergency passed 44-0.

-SB 1125 by Sen. Ford and Rep. Dale DeWitt would require teachers to submit applications to their principals to be selected as a mentor. The bill and the emergency passed 35-9.

• The House also was working to get bills heard on the floor and approved several appropriations bills on Monday. Among those measures that were considered:

-HB 2662 Rep. Larry Adair and 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 OSEEGIB. The measure passed 98-0.

-HB 2136 as amended by Rep. Ray Miller and Sen. Richard Lerblance would create the Construction Defect Remediation Act. The bill would require a purchaser with a construction defect complaint to issue notice to the contractor 90 days before taking legal action. The contractor would then have the opportunity to repair, replace or compensate the purchaser for the defect within 15 days of receiving notice. The bill passed 78-21.

-HB 2295 as amended by Rep. Gus Blackwell and Sen. Owen Laughlin would require inmates to pay for the cost of incarceration, not exceeding $3,000. The bill passed 55-44 and emergency failed with a 56-42 vote.

-HB 1898 by Rep. John Nance and Sen. Dick Wilkerson is in relation to the Terry Nichols trial and would provide an exemption of examination for current or former federal employees in criminal proceedings. The bill passed 82-13.

-HB 2291 by Rep. Dale turner and Sen. Jay Paul Gumm would enact the Oklahoma Rural Housing Incentive Act of 2004 and would provide for single housing developments. The bill passed 78-21.

Tuesday, February 24th

• The Senate met on Tuesday and heard the following legislation:

-SB 1177 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. M.C. Leist would create the Relief Credits Act, which would require the Pardon and Parole Board to establish a system for non-violent offenders in which they could receive sentence reduction credits based on good behavior. The measure was to address overcrowding in Oklahoma’s prison system and prevent Oklahoma from becoming a party defendant in litigation resulting from overcrowding issues. The measure failed 18-25.

-SB 883 as amended by Sen. Bernest Cain would require a collision to be made available to the health services provider of the person involved in the a collision and allow insurance companies to obtain information or settlement claims without constituting a resale or use of date for trade or commercial solicitation purposes. The bill and the emergency passed

-SB 1153 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson and Rep. Bob Plunk would allow state agencies to lease employees to certain Indian Nations. The bill passed 27-17 and the emergency passed 33-11.

-SB 1185 by Sen. Shurden and Rep. Glen Bud Smithson would prohibit confiscation of firearms and states conditions for confiscation. The bill and the emergency passed 41-1.

-SB 1290 by Sen. Bruce Price requires a test for HIV and hepatitis C upon request of either party obtaining a marriage license. The bill passed 44-0.

-SB1393 by Sen. Wilkerson gives peace officer authority to trained law enforcement officers employed full-time by federally recognized Indian tribes. The bill and emergency passed 42-1.

• The House on Tuesday took floor action on the following bills:

-FS for HB 2007 by Representatives Jack Bonny, Bill Mitchell, Senators Mike Morgan and Ben Robinson is the general appropriations bill for the expenses of various agencies of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state. A few of the various measures in the bill are to fund 100 percent of teacher health insurance costs, increase common education funding to more than $2 billion, fund higher education in excess of $800 million, appropriate an additional $25 million to the Department of Correction among many others. HB 2007 follows through on the commitment to fund education first, a provision of HB 1247 that passed through the legislature in 2003.

-HB 2601 as amended by Rep. Al Lindley and Sen. Penny Williams would require the State Board of Education to develop and oversee profession development institutes to provide teachers with the language development skills and knowledge necessary to teach students who are not proficient in English. The bill failed by a vote of 36-58.

-HB 1839 by Rep. Clay Pope and Sen. Bruce Price would remove the limit of Insurance Service Organizations classifications for the formation of farmer’s mutual fire insurance associations. The bill passed 97-0.

-HB 1857 by Rep. Neil Brannon and Sen. Kenneth Corn would provide a two percent increase in retirement benefits to any person receiving benefits from the Teacher’s Retirement System of Oklahoma as of June 30, 2003. The title was stricken and the bill passed 93-0.

-HB 2122 by Rep. Jerry Ellis and Sen. Frank Shurden would allow any individual, other than a convicted felon, to transport and store a firearm in a locked vehicle on any property set aside for any vehicle. The measure failed 16-4.

Wednesday, February 25th

• The Senate heard several appropriations bills along with the following pieces of legislation:

- SB 868 as amended by Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. William Paulk 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 33-13.

-SB 1112 by Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. Ray Miller would limit the length of a technology center school district board member’s term of office to five years as well as provide greater oversight and accountability through other reforms. The measure passed 41-2.

-SB 1234 by Sen. Glenn Coffee and Rep. John Carey would create the “Movie Piracy Act” and would prohibit individuals from recording motion pictures with handheld video cameras in theatres and make illegal copies to sell for profit. SB 1234 would make movie piracy a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The bill passed.

-SB 1146 as amended by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield and Rep. Gary Taylor would allow county commissioners to cancel an election if there is only one candidate for any of the commissioners’ districts. The bill and emergency passed 45-0.

-SB 1271 by Sen. Glenn Coffee would authorize technology center school districts to offer college prepatory programs with a focused field of study. The bill and emergency passed 47-0.

-SB 1347 by Sen. Mark Snyder, Penny Williams and Rep. Dale Wells creates the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Act by creating a committee within oversight of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The bill and emergency passed 35-11.

-SB 1374 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield and Rep. Ray McCarter would allow a county sheriff’s office to collect DNA samples. The bill passed 40-1.

-SB 1589 by Sen. Dick Wilkerson and Rep. Bob Plunk authorizes drug screens on specimens in the custody of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The bill
passed 33-11.

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

-HJR 1050 by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew and Sen. Robert Milacek would allow a vote of the people to approve or reject a constitutional amendment that would impose a temporary 3-cent per gallon fuel tax increase. The bill was passed by a vote of 90-8.

-HB 2526 by Rep. Ray Vaughn and Sen. Charlie Laster would change the method of reimbursement for services performed on behalf of a deprived child. The bill would also allow the presiding judge to establish paternity if there is a question. Once paternity is established, the father would have to pay child support for the period support was not received. The bill and emergency passed 97-1.

-HB 2314 by Rep. Al Lindley and Sen. Kenneth Corn provides procedures for reporting domestic violence and sexual assault shelter records. The bill passed 92-6.

-HB 2334 as amended by Rep. Barbara Staggs and Sen. Daisy Lawler creates the Oklahoma Mathematics Initiative that will consist of the development of mathematics training modules and administration of summer mathematics academies to be offered to teachers. The bill and emergency passed 89-9.

-HB 2397 by Rep. Terry Harrison and Sen. Charlie Laster allows the assistant district attorney to carry a firearm after completing a firearm training course. The bill passed 93-7.

-HB 2552 by Rep. Danny Hilliard and Sen. Debbe Leftwich creates the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Revolving Fund. The bill passed 95-1.

• Governor Brad Henry signed the first four bills of the session on Wednesday February 25th. They are as follows:

-SB 959 by Sen. Mike Morgan, Ben Robinson, Rep. Jack Bonny, and Bill Mitchell, which is the appropriation bill for the Ethics Commission.
-SB 992 by Morgan, Robinson, Bonny and Mitchell appropriates the Office of the Handicapped Concerns.
-SB 1056 by Morgan, Robinson, Bonny and Mitchell appropriates to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
-SB 1058 appropriates to the District Attorneys Council.

Thursday, February 26th

• The Senate convened at 10:00 a.m. and continued working through measures on 3rd reading before adjourning and will reconvene on Monday, March 1st at 10:00 a.m.

• The House of Representatives also considered several bills including 4th reading on SB 553 by President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson and Speaker of the House Larry Adair, which creates the State Tribal Gaming Act. The bill contains language related to an agreement between the state, the horse racing industry and the American Indian tribes. The bill passed by a vote of 52-47 but the emergency failed 52-44.

Other News

• Senator Jim Maddox held a press conference in the Governor’s Blue Room to unveil the new pilot program for a Bachelor’s of Applied Technology from the University of Central Oklahoma on Tuesday. A cooperative agreement was reached between higher education, career techs and businesses. The pilot program was recently approved by the Regents for Higher Education and will initially involve UCO, Rose State College, Oklahoma City Community College as well as Francis Tuttle, Metro Tech and Moore-Norman technology center.

• Many physicians from across the state gathered at the Capital on Wednesday to support a measure that would reform the procedures for medical liability.