The Oklahoma Senate
• For the second consecutive week, the Senate turned its attention to bills originating in the opposite chamber, with most work being done in committees. Measures approved on the Senate floor Monday include the following:
HB 3139 by Sen. Charles Laster, would repeal duplicate sections of law.
SCR 44 by Sen. J. Berry Harrison, congratulates the Glencoe High School Panthers boys basketball team, Class B state basketball champions.
HB 2358 by Sen. Susan Paddack, would provide modified guidelines for workplace policies regarding breastfeeding. The bill would call for employers to provide a separate, confined room for breastfeeding and would call for employers to provide unpaid break time to employees for the purpose of breastfeeding or producing breast milk.
HB 2517 by Sen. Ted Fisher, would require state entities that oversee the distribution of occupational licenses to employees to provide an appeals process for license holders that have been convicted of a crime related to substance abuse or mental illness, and have had their license withdrawn. The bill provides specific considerations for the state entities.
HB 2597 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would authorize the Used Motor Vehicle Parts Commission to establish rules regarding the installation of manufactured homes and mobile homes.
HB 2880 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would lengthen the term of office for appointed members of the Small Business Regulatory Review Committee.
HB 2891 by Sen. Harry Coates, would allow domestic animals unclaimed by an owner to be disposed of in a humane manner by a veterinarian. Additionally, the measure allows information collected in investigations to be shared with law enforcement agencies.
HB 3043 by Sen. Brian Crain, would establish regulations for charitable wine events. The measure would allow events to hold live or silent auctions for which bids may be accepted.
HB 2934 by Sen. Cliff Aldridge, allows SEC-registered broker-dealers to act as custodians for funds.
• The House also focused on committee work this week. Bills approved on the House Floor Monday include the following measures:
SCR 45 by Senators Cal Hobson and Harry Coates, would authorize Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority Bonds to be used to settle litigation involving the J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities.
SCR 43 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, would name March 2006, as National Nutrition Month in Oklahoma.
SCR 42 by Senators Judy Eason McIntyre, Earl Garrison, and Constance N. Johnson, supports the restoration of Oklahoma’s historically black towns, creating a project to be called “Let Us Rise Up and Build”.
• House committees approved a number of bills Monday, including the following:
HB 1614 by Sen. Daisy Lawler, would establish regulations regarding post-eradication control and maintenance of boll weevils, and calls for the Commissioner of Agriculture to make recommendations to the legislature regarding boll weevil control.
SB 1549 by Sen. Richard Lerblance, would provide updated regulations regarding prescribed burns, and establishes appropriate procedures.
SB 1357 by Sen. Jim Wilson, would allow the Department of Agriculture to hire temporary fire suppression personnel over the course of a full year, rather than in the restricted period currently mandated.
SB 1387 by Sen. Bernest Cain, would recommend that public schools expand physical education courses to students in grades six through eight to a 60 minute minimum per week.
SB 1492 by Sen. Susan Paddack, would require that any non-licensed substitute teacher called upon to teach the same class more than 20 days during a school year be required to complete certain training as specified by the Oklahoma Department of Education.
SB 1308 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would expand the membership of the Oklahoma Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Advisory Committee from 18 to 20, to include two members from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
SB 1495 by Senators Kenneth Corn and Todd Lamb, would establish the Kyle Williams Boating Safety Act to prohibit any person born after Jan. 1, 1991, from operating a vessel of greater than 16 feet in length and powered by a motor or motors producing more than 10 horsepower, unless the operator has completed a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
CS for SB 1434 by Sen. Tom Adelson, would create a Prescription Drug Reimportation Act to authorize licensed pharmacists with valid prescriptions to procure prescription drugs from a valid Canadian supplier and import the product to Oklahoma for the purpose of dispensing to Oklahoma patients.
Tuesday, March 28
• On Tuesday, the Senate continued to focus on committee work. Measures approved on the Senate floor Tuesday include the following:
SR 77 by Sen. Mike Morgan, commends Sen. J. Berry Harrison, and expresses the appreciation of Senate members for his 16 years of service to the Senate. Harrison is serving in his final session as a Senator due to term limits.
HB 2360 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would make survivor annuities and retirement benefits exempt from taxable income for federal retirees in the amount of 30 percent of the benefit amount for the 2007 income tax year, 65 percent for 2008 and 100 percent for 2009.
HB 2393 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, authorizes a sales tax exemption for non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, provided that the organization itself is also a member of a 501(c)(3) organization.
HB 2472 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would provide a maximum of $400 property tax relief for persons 65 and older or for any totally disabled person that is also the head of a household.
HB 2522 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would allow individuals to deduct up to $10,000 from state income taxes in any year that they or one of their dependents donates a human organ for the purpose of an organ transplant procedure.
HB 2588 by Sen. David Myers, would create special license plates for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
HB 2698 by Sen. Mike Johnson, would provide for special license and registration for members of the Reserve Corps of the Armed forces, for members of the Oklahoma National Guard, and for their spouses.
HB 2833 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, would establish a sales tax exemption on the sale of hearing aids.
HB 2840 by Sen. Harry Coates, would create the Kelsey Smith-Briggs Child Protection Reform Act. The act would amend provisions of the Oklahoma Children’s Code. It would prohibit court-appointed special advocates from being assigned a case before completing a training program in compliance with national and state standards.
HB 2966 by Sen. Randy Bass, would prohibit Department of Corrections inmates from bringing claims against the Department or private prisons unless they have exhausted the appropriate administrative channels previously.
HJR 1057 by Sen. Clark Jolley, would propose a constitutional amendment to establish that public use under eminent domain status does not include increases in the tax base.
• The House continued to focus on committee work Tuesday, as the following measures were approved on the floor:
SB 1782 by Sen. Richard Lerblance, would appropriate funds to the Department of Corrections to pay for the cost of incarcerating individuals who have had suspended sentences revoked.
SB 1713 by Sen. Charles Wyrick, would criminalize the storage, transportation or importation of methamphetamine and provides penalties.
SB 1479 by Sen. Jim Wilson, would make it a felony to solicit sex with a minor using any technology, and provides for penalties.
SB 1707 by Sen. David Myers, would call for the Commissioner of Health to distribute information related to the sex offender registry to nursing homes or long term care facilities.
SB 1708 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within a 1.5 mile radius of any licensed day-care facility, educational institution or private school.
SB 1089 by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, would prohibit payday loan stores and pawn shops from selling lottery tickets.
Wednesday, March 29
• The Senate again met briefly Wednesday, as committee work continued. Measures approved on the Senate floor Monday include the following:
FS for HB 2165 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, makes appropriations to the State Board of Education and provides for budgeting of funds. The measure would include a teacher salary increase of $3,000, including an increase of $80 per month for support employees and funding for an early childhood initiative.
SB 1190 by Senators Johnnie Crutchfield and Jeff Rabon, provides emergency funds to assist fire departments throughout Oklahoma and funds to repair equipment.
SR 84 by Sen. Richard Lerblance, memorializes Congress to resist cuts in Alzheimer’s research.
SR 83 by Sen. Kenneth Corn, thanks Tom Hinkle for his service to Oklahoma veterans and wishes him well on the occasion of his retirement.
SR 81 by Sen. Mary Easley, congratulates the East Central High School Cardinals for winning the Class 5A football state championship.
SR 82 by Sen. Mary Easley, congratulates the East Central High School Cardinals for winning the Class 5A girls basketball state championship.
• Measures approved by Senate committees Wednesday include the following:
CS for HB 2882 by Sen. Charles Laster, would authorize individuals who have taken at least eight hours of recognized marriage counseling courses to perform premarital counseling.
HB 3056 Sen. Jeff Rabon, would create a Prevention of Youth Access to Alcohol Act. The act would authorize cities with a municipal criminal court of record to provide specified fines and penalties for individuals under the age of 21 caught in possession of 3.2 beer.
HB 2655 Sen. Daisy Lawler, would create an Oklahoma Farm-to-School Program to provide fresh locally-grown foods to Oklahoma school cafeterias.
HB 2982 by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would authorize the Tourism Department to employ inmates working in Correctional Industries to rebuild historical forts.
HB 2809 by Sen. Kenneth Corn, would modify salary schedules for Capitol Patrol, Lake Patrol and Highway Patrol
HB 2813 by Sen. Frank Shurden, would increase the amount of liability insurance required of the owner of a dangerous dog from $50,000 to $100,000 and provides penalties.
HB 2516 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would authorize the Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority to provide property and equipment improvements for the Edmond Forensic Science Center and to provide improvements in five counties for use by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
HB 2955 by Sen. Owen Laughlin, would require the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to establish an independent agricultural tourism organization.
HB 2618 by Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, would remove limits on apportionment of the state gross production tax revenue to the Country Bridge and Road Improvement Fund and the Rural Economic Action Plan Water Projects Fund.
HB 2842 by Sen. Brian Crain, creates a Medicaid Reform Act. The act allows the Health Care Authority to seek waivers to create a statewide program to provide for a more efficient delivery service.
HB 2937 by Sen. Frank Shurden, would establish mandatory maintenance contracts throughout the state for all agencies to access for vehicle repairs and service.
HB 2634 by Sen. Todd Lamb, creates the Paperwork Reduction Act of 2006, requiring state agencies to study ways to further eliminate or shorten lengths of reports and other printed materials.
HB 2552 by Sen. Randy Bass, would authorize the Capital Improvement Authority to issue $200 million in revenue bonds for implementation of a Deferred Maintenance Program for state-owned property.
• The House continued to focus on committee work Wednesday, but a motion was accepted to suspend house rules for consideration of the appropriations measures. The House approved 32 appropriations bills Wednesday.
• Other measures approved by House committees on Wednesday included:
SB 334 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich, would completely eliminate the estate tax over a three year period and provide immediate estate tax relief to non-lineal heirs.
SB 1678 by Sen. Owen Laughlin, would designate the Mexican free-tailed bat as the official flying mammal of the state
SB 1515 by Sen. Daisy Lawler, would create an Oklahoma Farm-to-School Program Act to provide schools with fresh food and snacks.
SB 2016 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, would extend the state income tax exemption for qualified retirement benefits to $25,000 if filing single and $50,000 if married and filing jointly starting in the 2007 tax year.
SCR 39 by Senators Bernest Cain, Ted Fisher, and David Myers, would commend the Republic of China for its economic and business ties with the state.
SB 1613 by Todd Lamb, would designate “Mr. Voter”, created by Jim Lange, editorial cartoonist of the Daily Oklahoman, as the official state editorial cartoon.
SB 1795 by Sen. Susan Paddack, would provide parents of children in kindergarten, first or third grade to provide proof that their child has passed a vision screening.
SB 1333 by Sen. Jim Reynolds, would modify the Oklahoma Emergency Response Systems Development Act to allow stretcher van transports to and from veterans facilities.
SB 1088 by Sen. Randy Bass, would allow state employees that are also a member of a reserve unit to retain their pay for as long as 30 days after being called into active duty.
SB 1707 by Sen. David Myers, would authorize the Department of Corrections to provide an updated list of sex offenders to the Commissioner of Health each month, which would then be made available to nursing homes.
Thursday, March 30
• The Senate met briefly and approved the following resolutions before adjourning to resume committee work:
SR 83 by Sen. Glenn Coffee, commends Arvie McKemy Brandes for a rich and fulfilling life on her 100th birthday.
SR 85 by Sen. Patrick Anderson, praises the life of Margaret Buvinger and mourns her loss.
• Flags at the Capitol were flown at half-staff Thursday in honor of fallen Oklahoma firefighter Destry Horton of Chickasha. Horton was burned while fighting a grass fire earlier this month near Duncan.
• The State Capitol on Tuesday received a visit from the “Help is Here Bus”, a traveling education center raising awareness of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program. Sen. Susan Paddack has co-authored a proposal expanding the Norman-based program, which provides free or reduced cost prescription medication to low-income families.
• Howard Hendrick, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, on Tuesday announced the agency has received an unexpected $13.3 million grant for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The grant comes as a result of a $1 billion grant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
• Over 500 international high school and college students visited the Capitol Tuesday for International Student Awareness Day. Sen. Bernest Cain, co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on International Development, said 57 counties were represented at the event.