The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, February 5 to Thursday February 8, 2007

Monday, February 5

• Monday, February 5, marked the first day of the 2007 Legislative session, with Lt. Gov. Jari Askins presiding as President of the Senate. Several measures were introduced and the Senate gave unanimous approval to a resolution honoring Pres. Gerald R. Ford who died on December 26, 2006.

• Following the session, members of the Senate reconvened in the House for a joint session which featured Governor Brad Henry’s State of the State address.

• Several measures were approved by Senate committees Monday.

-SB 133 by Sen. Richard Lerblance would require the installation of approved carbon monoxide detectors in any building used as a church, hospital, hotel, motel, theatre, apartment house, rooming house, rest home, dormitory, nursing home, day nursery, convalescent home, auditorium or child care institution.

-SB 654 by Sen. Cliff Branan would expand the definition of “real estate broker” to include limited liability companies.

-SB 45 by Sen. Harry Coates relates to the Construction Industries Board and modifies certain fees relating to dishonored checks.

-SB 539 by Sen. Randy Bass modifies provisions relating to establishing ownership of package stores.

-SB 693 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm relates to the Deferred Deposit Lending Act and prohibits the cashing of certain instruments.

-SB 41 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would change the name of a charitable wine event license to the charitable wine event or charitable beer event license.

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

-HB 1591 by Rep. Tad Jones would modify the minimum teacher salary schedule, establishing a salary schedule for teachers with a master’s or doctoral degree teaching in an area related to their degree.

-HB 1307 by Rep. Ben Sherrer would require that colleges and universities provide on enrollment forms an option for students to consent to the release of certain personal information for commercial purposes.

-HB 1518 by Rep. Dale DeWitt creates a Common Sense Consumption Act to prevent frivolous lawsuits against food manufacturers, distributors, marketers and advertisers.

Tuesday, February 6

• With attention focused on getting measures assigned and heard by committees by the February 22 deadline, the Senate met briefly on Tuesday, with no measures being heard.

Numerous measures were approved by Senate committees on Tuesday including:

-SB 490 by Sen. Charles Laster would modify language relating to restrictions on convicted sex offenders and zones of safety surrounding schools, child care facilities, playgrounds and parks.

-SB 113 by Sen. Debbe Leftwich would exempt volunteers who provide transportation services for charitable organizations or not-for-profit corporations from liability lawsuits.

-SB 665 by Sen. Jonathan Nichols would prohibit the amendment of certain victim impact statements.

-SB 507 by Sen. Cliff Branan would exempt charitable and not-for-profit volunteers who provide transportation services from tort liability.

-SB 158 by Sen. Randy Bass would order the court to delay final determination in child custody cases until after a parent engaged in active duty in the Oklahoma National Guard or other branches of the armed services completes his or her term of active duty.

-SB 390 by Sen. Don Barrington would allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. probation officers to view Department of Juvenile Justice records without a court order.

-SB 145 by Sen. Brian Crain would authorize associate and special district judges to carry or use weapons in a courthouse.

-SB 712 by Sen. James A. Williamson would state a legislative finding that citizens of the state are potential targets of caller ID spoofing or caller ID fraud and provides penalties.

-SB 512 by Sen. David Myers would authorize liens for medical claims to be placed on medical diagnostic imaging facilities not affiliated with a hospital that provides diagnostic imaging including MRI, CT and PET scanning.

-SB 645 by Sen. Patrick Anderson would create a misdemeanor crime for failure to comply with a rental agreement.

-SB 698 by Sen. Charlie Laster would limit to 30 the number of items the court clerk may be requested to produce or permit inspection or copying in civil cases.

• The House on Tuesday heard second reading of bills, with committees approving several bills, including the following measures:

-HB 1678 by Rep. Jeff Hickman would authorize an income tax exemption for individuals who resided in another state for four continuous years before moving to Oklahoma and purchasing or constructing a home for the first time in a county with a population decline since 1940 or cities with a population of between 500 and 5,000 people.

-HB 1714 by Rep. Paul Wesselhoft would modify the sentencing power of courts in cases involving sex offenders. The bill would allow courts to prohibit offenders from accessing or using any web-based social networking sites.

-HB 1612 by Rep. Paul Roan would allow peace officers to collect DNA samples from registered sex offenders.

-HB 1027 by Rep. Glen Bud Smithson would prohibit convicted felons from possessing or using an altered toy pistol.

-HB 1646 by Rep. Pam Peterson would make it unlawful for state employees to solicit any portion of the benefit or allowance as a gratuity, kickback or loan from a recipient who is otherwise entitled to the benefit or allowance.

-HB 1513 by Rep. Dale DeWitt would eliminate the expiration date on tax credits for ethanol production.

-HB 1916 by Rep. Phil Richardson would provide an exemption from the motor fuel tax for biofuel and biodeisel produced by an individual with crops grown on their own property.

Wednesday, February 7

Although attention remained focused on committee action in the Senate, two resolutions were approved on Wednesday.

-SCR by Sen. Earl Garrison designates February 14, 2007, as County Government Day.

-SR 6 by Sen. Constance N. Johnson acknowledges February 7, 2007, as Black HIV/AIDS awareness day in the state of Oklahoma.

• Senate committees held informational meetings Wednesday, and took no action on bills.

• The House focused on committee work Wednesday, and approved the following measures:

-HB 1734 by Sue Tibbs would require voters to show proof of identity.

-HB 1379 by Rep. Terry Ingmire would create an Unclaimed Gas and Electric Utility Deposit Fund to be managed by the Department of Human Services for use in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

-HB 1423 by Rep. George Faught would enact an Oklahoma English Language Act that makes English the official language of Oklahoma.

-HB 1790 by Rep. John Trebilcock would move Oklahoma’s presidential primary voting date from Feb. 5 to Feb. 2.

-HB 1451 by Rep. Rob Johnson would prohibit legislators and statewide office holders from appearing in public service announcements in election years from Jan. 1 through the date of the general election.

-HB 1027 by Rep. Glen Bud Smithson would prohibit convicted felons from possessing or using an altered toy pistol.

-HB 1039 by Rep. Jason Murphey would direct the Legislature, State Supreme Court, agencies, boards and commissions to provide internet coverage of open meetings.

Thursday, February 8

• The Senate met briefly before adjourning so that committees could continue hearing legislation. The deadline for final action by committees on legislation from the house of origin is Thursday, February 22, 2007. The full Senate will reconvene on Monday, February 12, at 1:30 p.m.

The following measures were approved in committees on Thursday:

-SB 42 by Sen. Clark Jolley would authorize the Office of Administrative hearings to allow electronic transmittals of documents and electronic signatures.

-SB 46 by Sen. Brian Crain would allow the Board of Nursing to promulgate rules for registered and licensed nurses.

-SB 47 by Sen. Brian Crain would prohibit the forced implantation of microchips in humans

-SB 451 by Sen. Earl Garrison would prohibit children in certain sports programs from practicing outdoors when the heat index reaches 95 degrees or higher.

-SB 473 by Sen. Cliff Branan would prohibit smoking at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

-SB 488 by Sen. Constance N. Johnson would authorize medical examiners to remove eyes and tissues for donation.

-SB 499 by Sen. Andrew Rice would create the Oklahoma Task Force on Hunger.

-SB 618 by Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre would require group homes to offer healthy food options and exercise programs.

-SB 620 by Sen. Andrew Rice would extend the deadline for licensed behavioral health practitioners to meet educational requirements.

-SB 57 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would allow surviving spouses to elect to participate in the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System’s Oklahoma Law Enforcement Deferred Option Plan.

-SB 63 by Sen. Brian Crain would modify the percentage of employer contributions for county retirement systems

-SB 64 by Sen. Brian Crain would modify the requirements for city employees to participate in the State and Education Employees Group Insurance Act.

-SB 85 by Sen. Kenneth Corn increases the amount of payments made to surviving children of members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System.

-SB 672 by Sen. Kenneth Corn creates the Task Force on Lincoln Boulevard Renaissance Project Properties.

-SB 690 by Sen. Clark Jolley creates the Task Force on Teachers’ Health Insurance.

-SB 695 by Sen. Kenneth Corn would modify procedures for payment of health insurance premiums for members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System.

Other News

• Governor Brad Henry on Monday proposed a $7.3 billion budget for the 2007 fiscal year. Highlights of the budget proposal include a $663.4 million bond issue plan and $220 million funding increase for common education. Henry proposed $50.3 million in supplemental funding for the Department of Education to cover costs associated with a teacher pay increase that goes into effect this year.

• The State Department of Education on Tuesday released figures showing record enrollment growth in Oklahoma schools. State Superintendent Sandy Garrett said 2007 enrollment has increased by 4,547 more students compared to 2006. Hispanic enrollment increased by 7.55 percent in the past year and now accounts for nearly 10 percent of Oklahoma’s total student population.

• A new Zogby poll analyzed responses from approximately 21,000 Americans regarding their impressions on the state of Oklahoma. When asked what comes to mind when they think of Oklahoma, the Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” was the most prevalent answer at nearly 25 percent. 24 percent of poll participants answered the question by referencing the Oklahoma City bombing. Only two percent of poll participants answered “Dust Bowl” or John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath”.

• An original landscape of the historic round barn of Arcadia, entitled “Arcadia Round-Up” by artist Linda Tuma Robertson, was dedicated in the Oklahoma House on Wednesday. The painting was sponsored by Oklahoma County Commissioner and former State Representative Ray Vaughn and his wife Suzanne and commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund. The painting depicts a cattle round-up in a valley with the Round Barn atop a hill in the distance.

• More than 400 Oklahoma State University students have received oral antibiotics for meningitis as a precaution after a recent case sent an Oklahoma State University student to intensive care. Last year, an OSU student was hospitalized for 51 days after becoming infected with bacterial meningitis.