The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, Feb. 9 - Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

Monday, Feb. 9, 2015

• The Senate conducted no legislative business Monday but recognized the families of Oklahoma Gold Star Medal recipients. The medal is awarded to soldiers posthumously for valor after Sept. 11, 2011, and presented to their families. Recognized Monday were the families of Specialist Buddy Hughie, Staff Sergeant Kirk Owen, Sergeant Anthony Peterson, Specialist Joshua Seals, Specialist Christopher Gailey, Sergeant Mycal Prince, Corporal Michael Thompson, Sergeant Daniel Eshbaugh, First Lieutenant Damon Leehan, and Sergeant Bret Isenhower.

• Senate committees met and approved the following measures:

-SB 323, by Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, requires the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System Board of Trustees to develop procedures to reasonably conclude that a potential rollover contribution is valid according to Income Tax Regulations.

- SB 415, by Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso, requires the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System to establish a defined contribution system for those persons who become employed on or after November 1, 2015, in a full-time-equivalent position or less but more than a half-time position that qualifies for employee benefits, including health insurance.

- SB 462, by Brinkley, removes language regarding payment of funds by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System as a result of qualified domestic orders. The bill removes language that provides a qualified domestic order cannot require payment of funds or assets to an alternate payee prior to the actual permitted distribution date or withdrawal of the related participating employee and that the system's obligation to pay an alternate payee pursuant to a qualified domestic order ceases upon the death of the related participating employee.

- SB 126, by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, would allow the State Department of Health to enter into contracts with private vendors to obtain services necessary to meet the requirements of the Oklahoma Advance Directive.

- SB 180, by Sen. A J Griffin, R-Guthrie, adds the requirement that a child welfare records search be conducted by the Department of Human Services for court appointed special advocates.

-SB 511, by Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, creates the Advisory Council on Child Homelessness. The bill provides the Council's duties in addition to the responsibilities and necessary qualifications of the 11 appointed members.

-SB 28, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, removes the minimum age requirement for the director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

-SB 155, by Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, provides exemption for members of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission from restrictions relating to dual office holding.

-SB 235, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, allows an undersheriff or deputy sheriff who is related to the sheriff to be considered for a promotion, wage increase or lateral transfer as long as the act does not constitute a new appointment.

- SB 50, by Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, lowers the grade level at which agricultural education may be offered from eighth grade to sixth grade.

- SB 136, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, provides the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board with administrative duties, including decisions on supplemental online courses. The bill authorizes the board to establish a review and certification process for supplemental online courses.

• House committees met and approved the following measures:

- HB 1825, by Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, removes the authority of state agencies that provide health care or medical service to make a claim against a taxpayer’s individual income tax refund for delinquent balances.

- HB 2131 by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, repeals language related to the Oklahoma Business Activity.

- HB 1277, by Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Tecumseh, creates the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicle Conversion Act of 2015. The bill creates a revolving fund to be used for CNG conversions of fleet vehicles.

• The following bills were passed by the House Monday:

- HB 1048, by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, and Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, 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 bill allows the director to invoke the aid of any district court within the state in the case that a witness does not comply with the subpoena. The bill authorizes district courts to quash subpoenas. The bill passed 99-0.

- HB 1047, by Biggs, requires individuals 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. It corrects self-referential language. The bill passed 97-0.

- HB 1046, by Biggs and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, requires that if the court cancels all or part of restitution owed, the court must also apply the same percentage reduction to any court-ordered monetary obligation owed by the defendant. The bill passed 75-21.

-HB 1684, as amended, by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, establishes Erin's Law. The bill requires all public schools to establish a sexual abuse prevention instructional program for students prekindergarten through fifth grade. It states the content shall be up to the school board, provided the program includes some specified components. The bill offers guidelines for the programs.


Tuesday, February 10

• The Senate met briefly Tuesday and took up only one piece of legislation, a resolution establishing joint House-Senate rules for the 55th Legislature. On a voice vote, the Senate approved SCR 7, by Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, and Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, establishing Joint Rules for the 55th Legislature.

• The House of Representatives convened Tuesday but heard no bills. Representatives unanimously passed HCR1003, which proclaims Feb. 8 to Feb. 14 as Oklahoma Homeschool Week. The House adjourned shortly thereafter to accommodate potential Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke from the House floor later in the day.

• The following bills were passed by House committees Tuesday:

-HB1568, by Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, changes and adds definitions to terms used. The bill also now accounts for video toll collection systems in relation to the Oklahoma Electronic Toll Collection Act. The bill clarifies the fining process.

-HB1077, by Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, requires the Department of Transportation to produce an Oklahoma Tourism and Passenger Rail Act Investment Report and establishes the recipients of the report.

-HB1353, by Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Wagoner, creates the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Act. The bill requires a three-point bonus preference be given to service-disabled veteran businesses doing business in Oklahoma. The bill specifies conditions and goals for awarding of contracts. The bill authorizes the Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to promulgate rules.

-HB1430, by Rep. James Leewright, R-Bristow, modifies the definition of consumer in the Telemarketer Restriction Act to include and business association, partnership, firm, corporation and its affiliates or subsidiaries located in this state.

• The following bills were passed by Senate committees Tuesday:

-SB 492, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, would exempt from civil liability for causing the damage or destruction to a drone flying within the airspace of their personal property, not otherwise regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

-SB 57, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, provides that letters of guardianship are valid for no longer than 15 months unless renewed by the court.

-SB 794, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, requires an execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia if other means of execution by lethal injection are ruled unconstitutional by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction or is otherwise unavailable.

-SB 335, by Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, and Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to audit all information provided to them for the purpose of calculating ad valorem taxes to ensure that property is reported for, and resulting tax revenues are attributed to, the correct city, school district and county where taxable property is located

-SB 815, by Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, creates the Incentive Evaluation Commission to ensure that state incentives are evaluated at least once during every four-year period. The bill establishes membership and meeting requirements. The bill establishes incentive review procedures and requirements and annual reporting requirements.

Wednesday, February 11

• Several bills were heard in Senate committee, including:

-SB 256, by Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona and Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, requires all funds held in the Oklahoma Viticulture and Enology Center Development Revolving Fund to remain in the fund and be available for use by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry.

-SB 297, by Justice, creates the Heritage Preservation Act and the Heritage Preservation Grant Program, within the Oklahoma Historical Society. The bill establishes the purpose of the program and states to whom the funds will be allocated and how the funds will be used.

- SB 790, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, eliminates the requirement of a $25 sum resulting from a criminal conviction to be assessed and credited to the Oklahoma Court Information System Revolving Fund.

- SB 141, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, establishes that the Department of Public Safety shall collect a sum of $15 for each Motor Vehicle Report they furnish for a commercial driver license. It requires $10 of the fee be deposited in the General Revenue Fund and $5 be deposited in the Department of Public Safety Revolving Fund.

- SB 797, by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, authorizes the district to sell property directly used for the generation or distribution of electricity to any association or corporation engaged in the furnishing of wholesale or retail electric if the Board of Directors of the Grand River Dam Authority approves by a vote that the property is not necessary to the business of the district

-SJR 30, by Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that allows the Legislature to prepare the budget every year and consider all other types of legislation in odd-numbered years. The amendment would permit the Legislature, by 2/3 vote of each chamber, to consider non-appropriation measures in even-numbered years.

- SB 189, by Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, and Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, R-Morrison, creates Oklahoma Performance Informed Budget and Transparency Act of 2015. The bill changes references to "zero-based" budgeting to "performance-informed" budgeting. The bill permits the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations and Budget Committee or their subcommittee to perform the duties of the Legislative Oversight Committee on State Budget Performance.

-SB 604, by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to assess the feasibility of implementing a low-income pool to be used for additional coverage under the Oklahoma Medicaid Program, provided that such coverage is within the definition of medical assistance provided by the Social Security Act.

-SB 750, by David, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to make payments to nursing facilities pursuant to the state Medicaid plan for individuals who meet certain financial requirements and require certain services. The bill establishes requirements and provisions for eligibility. The bill adopts the eligibility requirements for determining initial and continued eligibility of both aged and disabled individuals. The bill also requires quarterly redetermination of eligibility.

• Several bills were passed in House committees, including:

-HB 1965, by Rep. Terry O'Donnell, R-Catoosa, modifies the scope of the unlawful use of cellular telephones or any other electronic communication device in moving motor vehicles, commercial motor vehicles, or public transit. Under the bill, texting while driving would be a secondary violation and the police would need another reason to pull someone over aside for that offense.

- HB 1006, by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, adds the trafficking of humans for labor or for commercial sex, the pandering of humans for sex and the prostitution of a child to the list of crimes for which the Attorney General may seek an order authorizing the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications by any law enforcement agency of the state or any political subdivision having responsibility for the investigation of the offense for which the application is made.

- HB 2168, by Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, allows those who have committed certain felonies to not be denied employment certification by certain boards, provided five years has passed since conviction of the felony and felony was not in any way related to the position or poses a threat to public safety.

-HB 2169, by Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, creates the Civil Liability for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders Act, which prohibits a cause of action to be brought against an employer, general contractor, premises owner, or other third party solely for hiring an employee or independent contractor who has been convicted of a nonviolent, nonsexual offense.

-HB 1619, by Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, requires the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to notify the Oklahoma Health Care Authority of individuals who win lottery prize monies under Title 3A of the Oklahoma Statutes. It also requires the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to develop guidelines and procedures for timely notifying the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for such individuals.

- HB 1453, by Rep. David Ralph Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, requires the Director of the Department of Libraries and the Chief Information Officer to, not less than twice a year, publish and make available through documents.ok.gov, a listing of each agency failing to provide publications to the state web portal.


Thursday, February 12

• The Senate met briefly Thursday morning before adjourning for the weekend. The Senate will reconvene Monday, Feb. 16 at 1:30pm

Other news this week

• Governor Mary Fallin today announced the appointment of Secretary of State Chris Benge as Native American liaison within the Governor’s office. Gov. Fallin also issued an executive order establishing her Cabinet for her second four-year term. Benge, a member of the Cherokee Nation, will serve as secretary of state and Native American affairs. Fallin named Benge to serve as secretary of state in November 2013. He served as speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2008 until he was term-limited as a legislator in 2010. He also served as House Appropriations and Budget Committee chairman from December 2004 until February 2008.


• Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order on Monday that prohibits new hires, employee raises or bonuses unless an exception is approved by the statewide elected official who directs and manages the agency or the appropriate Cabinet secretary. The approval process requires a written, formal explanation from the agency director explaining why a new hire, pay raise or bonus is necessary.


• With no debate on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 on SB 794 to authorize “nitrogen hypoxia,” which depletes oxygen supply in the blood to cause death. Oklahoma would be the first state to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates under the bill. The bill’s author, Moore Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes, says it’s likely the bill will be amended before the session is over. Three lethal injections remain on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Oklahoma’s three-drug method is constitutional.

• Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed charges against Orlando Glenn Rayfield, of Arlington, Texas and Trevor Allan Gordon, Jr., of Grand Prairie, Texas for the billing of therapy sessions that never occurred. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit revealed both Rayfield and Gordon, Jr. generated false claims for payment for rehab services purportedly provided to Medicaid recipients. Rayfield and Gordon, Jr. worked as Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Specialists for Pennington Creek Lifehouse headquartered in Tishomingo.