The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, Feb. 2, 2015

• The Oklahoma Senate convened briefly Monday at noon and then joined the members of the House of Representatives for a joint session in the House for Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address.

• No legislation was taken up on the Senate floor on Monday.

Tuesday, February 3

• Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Anthony Sykes announced Tuesday he would not hear a bill some claimed would ban the wearing of hooded sweatshirts or hoodies. Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, filed the measure in early December. Bill language would make it unlawful for a person to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask or other disguise except in certain cases.

• The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services made its annual appropriation request Tuesday in front of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health. The department is requesting a total of $141,104,999 for FY ’16 Most of these appropriations would go towards maintaining existing programs and the Smart on Crime Initiative, which includes funding drug courts and mental health courts.

• The Senate met briefly Tuesday and took up no legislation. Members paused on the floor to recognize Jim Thorpe Award winner, Gerod Holliman from the University of Louisville.|

• Senate committees approved a number of measures Tuesday, including the following:

-SB 816 by Sen. Dan Newberry modifies the State Architectural and Registered Interior Designers Act.

-SB71 by Sen. Mark Allen, adds chicken egg production to the definition of basic industry in the Quality Jobs program.

-SB by Sen. Eddie Fields, modifies the definition of canoe in the Oklahoma Vessel and Motor Registration Act.

-SB 247 by Sen. Mike Mazzei, removes language related to additional income tax returns by reason of the recapture or restoration of credits under the Internal Revenue Code.

-SB 248 by Mazzei, modifies procedures regarding stamps returned to a manufacturer, requiring certain proof to be given to the Tax Commission.

-SB 817 by Sen. Jason Smalley, would permit a municipality or public trust with a municipality as its beneficiary to charge a convenience fee for the use of debit cards.

• The Oklahoma House of Representatives convened briefly on Tuesday. No bills were heard.

• House committees convened and heard the following bills:

-HB 1007, by Rep. David Brumbaugh, aimed at protecting the conscience of clergy and religious organizations that do not wish to marry same-sex couples.

Wednesday, February 4

• The Senate committees approved the following bills:

-SB 534, by Sen. AJ Griffin, would allocate funds from the proceeds of heirloom birth certificates to the State Health Department to provide child abuse prevention training and technical assistance. The proceeds range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. The bill received a do-pass recommendation from the subcommittee.

-SB 149 by Sen. Earl Garrison, provides that expenditure of funds appropriated to the State Department of Rehabilitation Services for educational programs or education materials for the Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf be in accordance with procedures adopted by the Commission for Rehabilitation Services in consultation with the State Purchasing Director.

• The Senate met briefly Wednesday and approved the following bill:

-SR7, by Sen. Brian Crain, honoring the life and career of the late Sen. Jerry Smith and mourning his loss.

• House Committees approved a number of measures Wednesday, including:

- HB 1409, by Rep. Lisa Billy, would increase from 24 to 72 hours the amount of time a woman must wait before receiving an abortion after receiving certain information about the procedure, including the age of the fetus, risks involved and that ultrasound and heart tone monitoring are available.

- HB 1379, Rep. Dan Fisher, would make it a felony crime to perform embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma.

- HB1047, by Rep. Scott Biggs, requires individual convicted of aggravated child pornography to serve not less than 85 percent of any sentence of imprisonment. The bill repeals language relating to the penalty of the purchase, procurement or possession of obscene material.

- HB1048, by Rep. Scott Biggs, authorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children unit of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to subpoena witnesses and production of records for certain investigations.

• The House met in a brief session Wednesday afternoon. Some members were unable to vote in person from the chamber due to a security lockdown at the Capitol. Members who were confined to their offices were permitted to vote via telephone. The House carried on with business despite the security lockdown, conducting introductions, presentations, and approving the following resolutions:

-HR1002, by Rep. Dan Fisher, recognizing February 4, 2015, as Rose Day at the Capitol.

Thursday, February 5

• The Senate met briefly on Thursday before adjourning for the week. It will reconvene Monday, Feb 9 at 1:30pm

• Senate committees approved a number of measures Thursday, including the following, which are going to Appropriations next:

- SB 115 by Sen. Frank Simpson, would require background checks for certain employees of medical foster homes.

-SB 293, by Simpson, addresses public assistance and benefits, as well as providing for consideration of applications by military personnel.

-SB206, by Simpson, relates to Oklahoma National Guard Relief program, defines scope of programs and clarifies function of review board.

-SB567, by Simpson, creates the Veterans Benefits Assistance Act, defines terms and provides requirements for individuals providing certain assistance.

Other news this week

• Governor Mary Fallin ordered all American and Oklahoma flags on state property to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. Friday, February 6, until 8 a.m. Monday, February 9, to honor Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees, who died while on active duty. Dees and Trooper Keith Burch were struck by a vehicle Saturday night while investigating an overturned semitrailer on westbound Interstate 40 in Seminole County just east of Shawnee.

• His Excellency Claudio Bisogniero, Ambassador of Italy to the United States, met with Governor Mary Fallin, Secretary of State Chris Benge and other cabinet members on Wednesday, February 04, 2015, at the State Capitol to promote business, cultural, and scientific ties with Italy. The ambassador was also accompanied by Elena Sgarbi, Consul General of Italy in Houston. They discussed the investment of Italian energy company, Enel Green Power, in Oklahoma.

• The Capitol building was locked down around 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday and people were prohibited from leaving and entering the building for approximately one hour. The precautionary lockdown was in response to concerns raised about a substance possibly found in a letter delivered to a representative's office by Satanist Adam Daniels. The restrictions were lifted approximately an hour later after officials determined no powder was found and no crime occurred.