The Oklahoma Senate
• The Senate focused on floor work this week as
the March 16 deadline for 3rd Reading of bills in the House of Origin
approaches. Measures approved on the Senate Floor on Monday include:
-SB 1902, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would direct the Oklahoma Tax Commission to deposit the fuel tax collections into the Oklahoma Safe Roads Trust Fund.
-SB 1479, by Sen. Jim Wilson, would make it a felony to facilitate, encourage, offer or solicit sexual conduct with a minor by use of the internet, telephones, cellular phones, computers, video or audio equipment, or any other type of electronic device.
-SB 1713, by Sen. Charles Wyrick, would provide a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for anyone convicted of importing one or more pounds of methamphetamine. SB 1713 is part of Gov. Brad Henry’s “Mission MethNet” initiative.
-SB 2047, by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would allow the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to utilize $20 million from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to expand the Existing Worker Training Program help more companies upgrade the skills of their workforce.
-SB 1664, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would require companies that offer wire transfers of money to register with and be licensed by the Oklahoma Banking Department and would allow the Banking Commission to share information with other state agencies, such as the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, in order to identify and prevent money laundering and other financial crimes connected to drug trafficking and terrorist funding.
-SB 1792, by Sen. Susan Paddack, would implement greater accountability measures for public education in Oklahoma recommended by Gov. Brad Henry’s Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) Task Force, including a requirement that students currently in sixth grade pass four out of seven end-of-instruction examinations when they enter high school and a requirement that teenagers under age 18 pass an eighth-grade math proficiency test before they could obtain a driver’s license.
-SB 1434, by Sen. Tom Adelson, would create the Prescription Drug Re-importation Act, authorizing licensed pharmacists in Oklahoma to obtain prescription drugs from a certified Canadian supplier.
-SB 1093, by Sen. Tom Adelson, would require the Oklahoma Department of Health to assume greater responsibility for building and maintaining adequate stockpiles of antiviral drugs to deal with influenza outbreaks instead of relying solely on the federal government.
-SB 1950, by Sen. Cal Hobson, would clarify that tobacco taxes are collected at the wholesale level, would increase fines for infractions by wholesalers, and would require the Oklahoma Tax Commission to make certain information regarding tobacco sales available to the public.
-SB 1942, by Sen. Clark Jolley, would exempt from sales tax purchases by certain volunteer organizations.
-SB 2039, by Sen. Todd Lamb, would authorize providers of wire or electronic communications services to trace the location of cell phones or cell towers and disclose the information to a government entity without a warrant in the event of an emergency.
-HB 3056, by Rep. Thad Balkman, would allow those who provide beer to minors to face fines of up to $5,000 and the loss of a beer permit, while also punishing teenagers who illegally purchase beer by taking away their driver’s licenses.
-HB 2963, by Rep. Daniel Sullivan, would allow district judges and associate district judges to have firearms in a courthouse.
-HB 2660, by Rep. Paul Roan, would prevent any licensing entity, board, commission, association, or agency from taking any action to revoke, suspend, or deny a license to any medical professional because that person participated in an execution.
• House committees approved several bills on Monday, including the following measures:
-HB 2844, by Rep. Kris Steele, the Drug Re-importation Act, would authorize the Board of Pharmacy to designate at least 10 Canadian pharmacies to fill prescriptions for Oklahoma residents.
-HB 2884, by Rep. Thad Balkman, would provide employment protection for pharmacists who conscientiously object to filling prescriptions for drugs they find morally objectionable, such as the “morning after pill” mifepristone.
-HB 1839, by Rep. Shane Jett, would allow home school and part-time students in grades one through 12 to participate in public school events or competitions including speech, debate, music, vocational education and sports.
-CS HB 2927, by Rep. Phil Richardson, would provide certain grounds for teacher dismissal or non-reemployment, including insubordination, failure to serve as a role model, dishonesty, sexual harassment and threats to inflict harm.
Tuesday, March 7
• On Tuesday, the Senate continued to focus on floor work. Measures approved Tuesday on the Senate Floor include:
-SB1747, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would make repeat child molesters subject to the death penalty or life without parole.
-SB 1341, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would require independent performance audits of state agencies to determine if the agencies are adequately carrying out the mission they have been assigned by the Legislature.
-SB 1037, by Sen. Susan Paddack, also known as the Caitlin Wooten Act, would require persons charged with a violent crime to prove they are not a public danger before they may post bail and would allow for an electronic notification system, called Victim Identification and Notification Everyday (VINE), to be put into place statewide in order to notify victims when offenders move throughout the criminal justice system.
-SB 1665, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, part of the Senate Democrats’ “Agenda to Empower the Middle Class,” would create a sales tax holiday in Oklahoma for back-to-school purchases.
-SB 1312, by Gumm, would create an income tax credit of up to $500 to help pay for an individual’s higher education expenses.
-SB 2016, by Gumm, increases the existing tax exemption for retirement benefits from the current limit of $10,000 to $25,000 for retirees filing single or married filing separately, and $50,000 for retirees married filing jointly, as head of household or as qualifying widow. The exemption would first apply in the 2007 tax year.
-SB 1391, by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would allow collateral heirs the same exemptions available to lineal heirs.
-SB 1769, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would create a special unit within the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to investigate criminals who provide fraudulent documents and other criminal activities that contribute to illegal immigration.
-SB 1359, by Sen. David Myers, would specify standard colors to be used in production of the Oklahoma State Flag and would designate the watermelon as the official state vegetable.
-SB 1296, by Sen. Frank Shurden, would authorize the Department of Wildlife Conservation to declare an open season for hunting mountain lions, black bears and otters.
-SB 1991, by Sen. Mike Morgan, would create an Oklahoma Interior Designers Act and prohibit representation as an interior designer without meeting specified criteria.
-SB 1693, by Sen. Ted Fisher, would limit total credits authorized by the Small Business Capital Formation Incentive Act to $10 million.
-SB 1458, by Sen. Randy Bass, would create a revolving fund to be expended by the Military Department for providing emergency response teams to disaster areas.
-SB 1593, by Sen. Robert M. Kerr and carried by Sen. Cal Hobson, would provide a definition to the term “commercial facilities” relating to the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.
-SB 1290, by Sen. Mary Easley, would exempt substitute teachers from the law which prohibits local school board members from hiring close relatives.
-SB 1752, by Sen. Jeff Rabon, would authorize the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to require employees and potential employees to submit fingerprints for state and national criminal background checks.
-SB 408, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, would expand the definition of “qualified purchases” under the Oklahoma Research and Development Act to include scientific equipment.
-SJR 60, by Sen. Randy Bass, would propose a constitutional amendment to provide a homestead exemption of 15 percent for a maximum of $15,000 for veterans that served in certain foreign wars and hostilities.
-SB 1691, by Sen. Don Barrington, would allow veterans receiving benefits for 100 percent service-related disability to be exempt from fees for recreational use facilities.
• The House approved the following measures on the floor Tuesday:
-HB 2430, by Rep. Sally Kern, would give a higher priority to “the person in whose home the child has been living in wholesome and stable environment” when a parent having custody of a child abandons the child to a third party and the third party petitions the court for custody or guardianship of the child.
-HB 2774, by Rep. Ann Coody, would require schools to provide extra emphasis on the teaching of the United States’ heritage of freedom during the week that includes Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
-HJR 1064, by Sen. Charlie Laster, would call for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to expand the authority of the Court on the Judiciary to take disciplinary actions against a judge.
• House committees approved several bills on Tuesday, including the following measures:
-HB 2810, by state Rep. Lee Denney, would streamline the permitting process for prospective oil refineries. The bill mirrors legislation currently being considered at the federal level.
-HB 3120, by Rep. Todd Hiett, the Common Sense in the Courtroom Act, deals with lawsuit reform, focusing on summary judgments to avoid costly trials, class action reforms, joint and several liability, medical liability reforms, and preventing lawsuits over choice-based products like fast food.
• The Senate directed its attention to floor work Wednesday. Bills approved on the Senate Floor include:
- SB 1735, by Sen. Jeff Rabon, would raise the annual operational grants for Oklahoma’s 874 rural fire departments to $5,000.
-SB 1708, by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, would make it illegal for sexual predators to live within 2,000 feet of a licensed daycare facility. The bill passed with an amendment by Sen. Charlie Laster to prevent convicted child molesters from moving back into the home where their victim lives.
-SB 1871, by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, would create the Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Act to prevent the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers who hold themselves out as immigration consultants.
-SB 1301, by Sen. Robert Kerr and carried by Sen. Constance Johnson, would establish fees for nail salons and increase annual fees for persons licensed by the State Board of Cosmetology.
-SB 1964, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would require three years of supervision after release for convicted sex offenders and require offenders to participate in a treatment program and polygraph examinations.
-SB 1592, by Sen. Frank Shurden, would require inmates to reimburse the Department of Corrections for the cost of their incarceration.
-SB 1597, by Sen. Charlie Laster, would provide school-age victims of violence more authority to limit contact with their attacker if they attend the same school.
-SB 1030, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would build an 800 MHZ statewide emergency communication system allowing emergency personnel from different agencies to communicate with each other. The bill is named for Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew S. Evans and Oklahoma City Police Officer Jeff Rominger, who were killed after their cars collided during a police pursuit.
-SB 1678, by Sen. Owen Laughlin, would designate the Mexican free-tailed bat, also known as Tadarida brasiliensis, as the official flying mammal of the State of Oklahoma.
-SB 1420, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would increase the fine for not wearing a seat belt from $20 to $50 and direct more funds to go toward state trooper training.
-SB 1570, by Sen. Earl Garrison, would determine that a person is not legally considered 21 years of age until 10 a.m. on his or her birthday; designed to prohibit “power-hour drinking” during the midnight hour of an individual’s 21st birthday.
-SB 1097, by Sen. Tom Adelson, would extend the Joint Legislative Commission to Study and Evaluate the Operations of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and the Indigent Health Care System in the Tulsa Metropolitan Service Area.
-SB 1783 by Sen. Jeff Rabon, would allow employees of the Wildlife Department to appeal disciplinary action to the Merit Protection Agency.
-SB 1459, by Sen. Bernest Cain, would require school districts to establish school wellness and fitness policies and require the Department of Education and the Department of Health to make information and assistance available upon request.
-SB 1461, by Sen. Bernest Cain, would direct the State Board of Education to develop a fitness assessment software program to track students’ fitness indicators.
-SB 1031, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would provide a death benefit of $100,000 for the dependents of Oklahoma residents killed in the line of military duty.
-SB 1887, by Sen. Gilmer Capps, would require nursing homes to keep at least two direct-care staff persons on duty at all times in an Alzheimer’s or dementia care unit.
-SB 1026, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would require health benefit plans providing coverage to individuals or groups with fewer than 50 employees to include coverage for obstetrical/gynecological examinations.
-SB 1508, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would increase fees for Department of Public Safety permits for overweight and oversize trucks and direct additional revenue to improvements in permitting system.
-SB 1826, by Sen. Charlie Laster, would create revolving funds in each county for records preservation.
-SB 1500, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would authorize the State Treasurer to enter contracts for professional services with a person who has retired from state service provided certain requirements are met.
-SB 1297, by Sen. Frank Shurden, would provide that when the Governor declares a drought emergency, volunteer firefighters must receive their regular pay when absent from work to fight fires.
-SB 1627, by Sen. Tom Adelson, would revoke the license of any retail, mix beverage, caterer or bottle club licensee if the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission finds the licensee has accepted discounts or other inducements from a manufacturer or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages.
-SB 1803, by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, would create an Office of Accountability Systems in the State Health Department.
SB 1586, by Sen. Frank Shurden, would increase penalties for arson during a burn ban to include imprisonment for five to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
-HB 2585, by Rep. Rex Duncan, would create the “Oklahoma Intrastate Mutual Aid Compact,” allowing for more cooperation between counties, cities, towns and municipalities when responding to natural disasters, emergencies and acts of terrorism and would enact a uniform incident management system for all jurisdictions to follow during emergencies.
-HB 1863, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, redirects from the state’s general revenue fund to the Department of Transportation $221 million of un-earmarked dollars paid for car tags and tax and $7 million in fuel taxes, to pay for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.
-HB 2586, by Rep. Rex Duncan, would increase the penalties for individuals who violate a custody order, allowing those convicted to face up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
-HB 3124, by Rep. Todd Hiett, would cut Oklahoma’s income tax rate by four-tenths of a percent, bringing the rate to 5.85 percent.
-HB 2158, by Rep. Sally Kern, would encourage libraries to implement special children’s sections for books dealing with age-sensitive material.
-HB 2394, by Rep. Thad Balkman, would gradually reduce the current 4.5 percent tax on groceries to 0.25 percent by 2011.
Thursday, March 9
• On Thursday, measures approved on the Senate Floor include:
-SJR 35, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would call for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would prevent the consolidation of rural school districts unless the proposal is approved by voters in the affected school districts.
-SB 1613, by Sen. Todd Lamb, would make Mr. Voter, also known as John Q. Public, the state’s official editorial cartoon. Mr. Voter is the creation of Jim Lange, editorial cartoonist for the Oklahoman.
-SB 1795, by Sen. Susan Paddack, would require vision screenings for students in kindergarten though third grade.
-SB 1793, by Sen. Ron Justice, would make financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled a felony.
-SB 1879, by Sen. Tom Adelson, would increase the time period a former employee can access insurance benefits through the previous employer.
-SB 1542, by Sen. Clark Jolley, would prohibit anyone under age 18 that has only been issued a learner’s permit from driving while using a mobile telephone unless utilizing a hands-free device.
-SB 1974, by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would prohibit the Department of Corrections from implementing policies without first presenting a fiscal impact and explanation to the legislature.
• Gov. Henry on Monday signed SB 1022, by Sen. Mike Morgan, exempting tickets for professional basketball, hockey and baseball games from sales tax.
• An original painting depicting the first president
of the University of Oklahoma was unveiled in the Oklahoma State Senate
Tuesday. Painted by Norman artist Mike Wimmer and sponsored by OU President
David Boren, his wife, Molly Shi Boren, and Senator Cal Hobson, the
original artwork portrays David Ross Boyd planting one of the first
trees on the university campus.