The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, March 13 to Wednesday March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13

• The Senate focused on floor work this week in order to hear as many bills as possible before the Legislature’s March 16 deadline for 3rd Reading of bills in the House of Origin. The Senate adjourned for the week on Wednesday, having completed its work on Senate bills a day early. So far, the Senate has passed 534 Senate bills, 13 joint resolutions, 12 senate resolutions, eight concurrent resolutions and three house bills. Measures approved on the Senate Floor on Monday include:

-SB 1878, by Sen. Harry Coates, would provide a standard form for contractors working on public projects. The bill was amended by Sen. James Williamson to allow county commissioners to approve the display of the Ten Commandments on county property after having been advised by the Office of the District Attorney or the Office of the Attorney General how to do so in a constitutional manner, and would allow the state Attorney General to defend counties from lawsuits challenging such a display.

-SB 1707, by Sen. David Myers, would require that the Sex Offender Registry be provided to the state Commissioner of Health for distribution to any nursing home or long-term care facility.

-SB 1387, by Sen. Bernest Cain, would recommend that junior high schools implement at least 60 minutes per week of physical education instruction.

-SB 1507, by Sen. David Meyers, would promote the Oklahoma Territorial Railroad Project, a railroad running between Guthrie and Fairmont. The Tourism and Recreation Commission and the Guthrie Arts and Humanities Council would coordinate their efforts on the project.

-SB 1717, by Sen. Ted Fisher, would tighten the laws on how tobacco products are distributed in Oklahoma, adding “tobacco products” along with cigarettes as items that may not be sold in the state without the proper tax stamp, and prohibiting retailer-to-retailer sales of cigarettes.

-SB 1556, by Sen. Brian Crain, would modify the due date for limited liability companies to renew their annual certificates with the Secretary of State’s office to fall on the anniversary of their original filing instead of in July.

-SB 1719, by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would prohibit the Water Resources Board from issuing permits to use water from an aquifer for mining purposes until after the board has determined that the use would not diminish springs or streams from the aquifer.

-SB 1840, by Sen. Constance Johnson, would increase the fine for hate crimes from $1,000 to $10,000.

-SB 2039, by Sen. Todd Lamb, would authorize communications providers to trace the location of cell phones or towers and disclose the information to law enforcement without a warrant in an emergency.

-SB 1468, by Sen. Susan Paddack, would require applicants for alternative placement teaching certificates attain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4 point scale, and would remove authorization for a reduction in the post-baccalaureate degree requirement.

• The House of Representatives also focused on floor work this week. Bills approved on the House Floor Monday include the following measures:

-HB 2842, by Sen. Brian Crain, would appropriate $93 million to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to Oklahoma’s healthcare providers and implement various patient empowerment reforms.

-HB 2055, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, would prohibit lobbyist contributions to state lawmakers during the legislative session and prohibit former legislators from registering as lobbyists for two years following their term of office. The bill was amended by Rep. Rob Johnson to ban all Oklahoma state legislators and statewide elected officials from appearing in public service announcements from January 1 of an election year through the date of the general election.

Tuesday, March 14

• On Tuesday, the Senate continued to focus on floor work. Measures approved Tuesday on the Senate Floor include:

-SB 1748, by Sen. Randy Bass, would prohibit the sale of cell phone records, allow Oklahoma consumers to put freeze their credit report if they fall victim to identity theft, allow victims of identity theft to file an incident report with local law enforcement, and would create other consumer protections dealing with identity theft.

-SB 1894, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, would require that fiscal retirement bills have an actuarial study and would require any proposed legislation that fiscally impacts a retirement system to include a designated funding mechanism. Fiscal retirement bills would have to be introduced in the first session of the legislature, but no action could occur until the second session so that the legislature could review the actual impact of any proposed changes.

-SB 1919, by Sen. Constance Johnson, would express the Oklahoma Legislature’s support for the creation of an African-American Centennial Plaza to be built at the State Capitol.

-SB 2022, by Sen. Scott Pruitt, would lower the state income tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.9 percent, representing a tax cut of about $480 million a year.

-SB 1807, by Sen. Todd Lamb, would require that a convicted murderer have an intelligence quotient of 76 or above to be eligible for the death penalty. The bill provides for evidentiary hearings and a professional evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist to determine if an individual is mentally retarded and thereby ineligible for the death penalty.

-SB 1577, by Sen. Ted Fisher, would change the definition of “full-time employment” from a minimum of 25 hours a week to 30 hours a week, and would make changes to the Small Employer Quality Jobs Act.

-SB 1397, by Sen. Mary Easley, would require poultry operations to implement a management plan for reducing poultry litter accumulating in Oklahoma watersheds.

-SB 2049, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, would authorize the State Board of Health to promulgate rules regarding the practice of midwifery.

• The House approved the following measures on the floor Tuesday:

-HB 2643, by Rep. Mike Brown, would make it illegal for a business to use the name or picture of any soldier in advertisements without prior consent.

-HB 2614, by Rep. Kevin Calvey, would require that a woman considering an abortion be given the option of seeing her baby through an ultrasound, which could be provided at an abortion facility or another location.

-HB 2884, by Rep. Thad Balkman, would protect pharmacists from being fired or facing retaliation if they refuse to dispense medication if there is reason to believe that the medication would be used to cause an abortion, destroy an unborn child, or to cause the death of any person by means of assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.

-HB 2608, by Rep. Odilia Dank, would implement recommendations of the Achieving Classroom Excellence Task Force, requiring that students pass four out of seven end-of-instruction exams to graduate from high school.

-HB, by Rep. Odilia Dank, adds the State Board of Education to the list of chartering agencies for the creation of charter schools.

Wednesday, March 15

• The Senate directed its attention to floor work Wednesday. Bills approved on the Senate Floor include:

-SB 1772, by Sen. Charlie Laster, the Oklahoma Property Owners Protection Act would prohibit public entities from using the power of eminent domain solely for economic development purposes, and would require municipalities to provide relocation assistance for those displaced by eminent domain proceedings.

-SB 1625, by Sen. Constance Johnson, would create a task force to report on the procedures of state purchasing and the effects of these policies on minority-owned business.

-SB 1832, by Sen. Constance Johnson, would create a task force to study the status of child support payments for children of incarcerated people.

-SB 1858, by Sen. Mike Morgan, would make killing another person while eluding an officer a crime punishable as murder in the first degree.

• The following measures were approved on the House floor on Wednesday:

-HB 2117, by Rep. Marion Cooksey, would make it a felony for any person to engage in human trafficking by forcing another into labor or involvement in the sex trade.

-HB 3116, by Rep. Ron Peterson, would require that any tobacco tax compact negotiated between the governor and a federally recognized tribe be subject to the final approval of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations.

-HJR 1057, by Rep. Mark Liotta, would allow Oklahoma voters to amend the state Constitution so that ‘public use’ shall not mean the public benefits of private development when governments use eminent domain.

Other News

• The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act as constitutional, reversing its previous ruling on the measure. Authored by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm and passed by the Legislature 2004, the Act authorizes collective bargaining for municipal employees in cities with a population of 35,000 or more, applying to 11 municipalities in Oklahoma.

• Gov. Brad Henry on Tuesday signed SB 1288, by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, providing $100 million for repairing state bridges and $25 million for county bridges.

• Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency for Delaware County after a tornado destroyed at least 36 homes and damaged numerous other homes and businesses and left 3500 homes without power.