The Oklahoma Senate
Monday, April 5th
• The Senate began honoring term-limited senators this week and will continue to do so every day of session through the end of April. Monday the Senate honored Senator Bruce Price for his 13 years of service. With the passing of the April 1st deadline to give legislation from the opposite house of origin a hearing, the Senate is now focused on floor action. Among the legislation considered are the following:
-HB 2451 as amended by Sen. Sam Helton and Rep. Dennis Adkins would change the thresholds for telecommunication companies serving less than 15 percent of access lines in the state and could adjust local exchange rates. Sen. Harry Coates made the motion to reconsider the bill whereby it passed last week to make an amendment. The amendment was said to protect small communities. The amendment was adopted and the measure and emergency clause passed 40-0.
-HB 1860 as amended by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. Bill
Mitchell would allow a landowner, lessee or designated agent of the
landowner or lessee to hunt feral hogs at night without a permit in
an effort to protect crops. An amendment was made to modify daytime
restrictions. The bill and emergency passed 38-0.
-HB 2308 by Sen. Rick Littlefield and Rep. Rebecca Hamilton would modify the size of containers that wholesalers may sell and that package stores may buy and sell under certain circumstances. The bill passed 43-0.
-HB 2504 as amended by Sen. Owen Laughlin and Rep. Elmer Maddux would allow a private or public cemetery to claim ownership to a burial site that has had no recorded activity for 75 years and after a reasonable search for heirs and beneficiaries. The measure failed 23-15 and Sen. Laughlin made a motion to reconsider at a later date.
-HB 2527 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Ray Vaughn would remove priority and equal treatment for certain actions for payment of child support. The measure passed 41-0.
-HB 2369 by Sen. Owen Laughlin and Rep. Tad Jones would
allow for school district elections to be held on the same day as a
Presidential Preferential Primary. The bill passed 37-1.
-The Senate also confirmed fifteen executive nominations
approved by the Education Committee earlier in the day.
-SB 1447 as amended by Sen. Sam Helton and Rep. Jari Askins would delete certain language for mandatory DNA testing and submission of testing. The bill and emergency clause passed 95-0.
-SB 908 by Sen. Gilmer Capps and Rep. Tad Jones would
increase the maximum scholarship grant from $6,000 to $15,000 for the
Oklahoma Rural Medical Education Loan and Scholarship Fund. The bill
and emergency passed 90-0.
-SB 1134 as amended by Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. Larry Ferguson would provide a benefit increase for certain persons receiving benefits from the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System, the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System, the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges, the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. The bill and emergency passed 77-0.
• The Senate met to honor Senator Sam Helton for his 13 years of service and heard the following legislation on the floor:
-HB 2108 by Sen. Ben Robinson and Rep. MC Leist would require the approval of the Legislature to increase the Nursing Facilities Quality of Care Fee after July 15, 2004. The measure and emergency passed 31-13.
-HJR 1060 by Sen. Angela Monson and Rep. Mary Easley would allow individuals 65 years of age or older with an income less than $25,000 per year to receive a property tax exemption. The measure passed 42-0.
-HB 1133 by Sen. Herb Rozell and Rep. Joe Eddins would allow school districts to recommend medical evaluations to parents or legal guardians without being liable for associated medical costs. The bill and emergency passed 39-3.
-HB 1756 by Sen. Herb Rozell and Rep. Jerry Hefner would
add a competency exam that is comparable to the general education and
subject area portions of the competency exam to the list of acceptable
examinations for alternative certification. The bill and emergency passed
44-0 with the title stricken.
• The House met and considered the following legislation:
-HB 2005 by Rep. Jack Bonny, Rep. Bill Mitchell, Sen. Mike Morgan and Sen. Ben Robinson would provide for a pay increase for state employees and describes the conditions and the method of implementation for the pay increase. The conference committee report was adopted 70-28. The bill and emergency passed 95-4.
-HB 2497 by Rep. Larry Rice and Sen. Ted Fisher would provide definition for employee misconduct and provide reasons for an individual to be disqualified for benefits. The bill and emergency passed 98-0.
-SB 1384 by Sen. Angela Monson and Rep. Larry Ferguson allows any statewide organization with a minimum of 1,000 dues-paying members may conduct one general mailing each year to all retired members participating in the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. The enacting clause was stricken. The bill and emergency passed 76-19.
-SB 873 by Sen. Glenn Coffee and Rep. John Nance would allow a municipality to support any public school system located in whole or in part within the corporate limits of the municipality or any public school system completely surrounded by the corporate limits of the municipality. The bill failed 24-74.
-SB 7 by Sen. Gilmer Capps and Rep. Robert Worthen declares the “Oklahoma Rose” as the official Oklahoma State Flower. The bill passed 83-16.
-SB 1204 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield and Rep. Clay Pope would modify the powers of the State Board of Agriculture and would delete certain authority from the Department of Environmental Quality regarding point source discharge related to agriculture. The bill and emergency passed 99-0.
• Governor Brad Henry signed SB 1529 by Sen. Jay
Paul Gumm and Rep. M.C. Leist, which is known at the Oklahoma Municipal
Employee Collective Bargaining Act would require communities of 35,000
or more population to allow their non-uniformed municipal employees
to organize or join an employee association and choose representatives
for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours and other terms of employment.
• The Senate met to recognize Senator Mark Snyder on Wednesday for his 17 years of service in the legislature. Among those pieces of legislation considered by the full Senate are the following:
-HB 2005 by Rep. Jack Bonny, Rep. Bill Mitchell, Sen. Mike Morgan and Sen. Ben Robinson would provide for a pay increase for state employees and describes the conditions and the method of implementation for the pay increase. The fiscal impact would be $23.6 million for this fiscal year and the second raise would affect the next fiscal year by $47.2 million. The bill passed 44-0.
-HB 1693 as amended by Sen. Penny Williams and Rep. Michael Tyler would update language relating to the State Transportation Commission, the Turnpike Authority and the Department of Transportation. The bill would also allow the OTA to conduct a feasibility study to determine if it was economically sound to construct a bridge in the vicinity of South Yale Ave and South Yale Place in Tulsa County. The project would only move forward if OTA determined that such a bridge would be self-sufficient at some point during a 30-year period from the toll charges associated with the project. The bill and emergency passed 34-5.
-HB 2112 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich and Rep. Ron Kirby would provide an income tax exemption for senior citizens and modify limits. The title was stricken and the bill passed 41-0.
-HB 1866 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Darrell Gilbert would create the Utilization of Unused Prescription Medications Act that expands the unused prescription drug pilot program to include pharmacies under contract with county health departments or the State Department of Health. The bill passed 41-0.
-HB 1427 as amended by Sen. Dick Wilkerson and Rep. David Braddock would create the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Education Task Force. The bill passed 41-0.
-HB 1835 by Sen. Bernest Cain and Rep. Al Lindley would add mental health issues to the goals of the Oklahoma Task Force to Eliminate Health Disparities and would increase the membership to 15. The bill and emergency passed 36-0.
-HB 1896 as amended by Sen. Sam Helton and Rep. Lucky Lamons would change the free passage distance of a stopped or parked vehicle to other vehicles from 200 ft to 400 ft. Sen. Kenneth Corn made an amendment to the bill that would require persons riding a horse on the highway after dark to wear reflective clothing. The amendment was adopted and the bill passed 41-0.
-HB 2306 by Sen. Frank Shurden and Rep. Rebecca Hamilton would create the Danielle Martinez Act and would authorize the option for patients to donate the blood extracted from the umbilical cord following the delivery of their baby. The measure passed 28-12 but the emergency failed 28-12.
-SB 868 as amended by Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. William Paulk would provide exception for classified state employees to run for partisan political office and to take leave without pay during the campaign. Rep. Paulk made an amendment that would prohibit any employee that falls under the federal “Hatch Act” from running for political office. The bill failed 50-48 and Rep. Paulk made a motion to reconsider at a later date.
-SB 1347 by Sen. Mark Snyder, Sen. Penny Williams and
Rep. Dale Wells would create the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Act,
which creates a committee within the purview of the Oklahoma Historical
Society to make recommendation for the implementation of art in public
places. The bill passed 72-26 and the emergency clause failed 63-33.
-SB 1120 as amended by Sen. Jeff Rabon and Rep. Clay Pope would require each rental of a motor vehicle to be assessed a certain registration fee. The measure has a committee substitute and had its title stricken along with the title. The bill passed 99-0.
-SB 1405 by Sen. Penny Williams and Rep. Al Lindley would create the 2-1-1 Helpline Pilot Program that would be coordinated by the Department of Human Services. The bill and emergency passed 97-3.
• Governor Henry signed six bills on Wednesday.
Thursday, April 8th
• The Senate convened at 9:30 a.m. to consider several pieces of legislation. They will reconvene on Monday, April 12th at 10:00 a.m.
• Trauma survivors, physicians and legislators gathered in the Senate Chamber on Monday April 5, 2004 for a special presentation on the state of Oklahoma’s trauma care network. The public presentation was an effort to get the word out how necessary it is for Oklahoma to have and to keep its Level One Trauma Center. Currently the only level one trauma center is located in Oklahoma City at University Hospital.