The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, March 9, to Thursday, March 12, 2015

Monday, March 9

• With the March 12 deadline for measures on third reading from the house of origin quickly approaching, the full Senate began the week with 233 measures on general order. On Monday, the Senate considered approximately 40 measures. Among those winning full Senate approval:

-SB 35, by Sen. AJ Griffin, would permit the Department of Public Safety to offer online applications for state identifications cards and allow electronic signatures for the applications. The bill passed 41-0.

-SB 54, by Sen. Kim David, would allow Probation and Parole officers, Internal Affairs agents of the Department of Corrections and Grand River Dam Authority law enforcement officers to keep their sidearm and badge when they retire as other law enforcement officers are currently allowed to do. The measure was approved 45-0.

-SB 424, by Sen. Brian Crain, would allow the sale of beer to consumers 21 years of age or older on the premises of a brewer, saying the law had previously been changed to enable winemakers to sell wine on their premises. The measure was approved, 37-4.

-SB 721, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, would include the definition of advertising or advertisement in relation to trafficking of children to include information posted on the internet, explaining that social media and other websites were increasingly being utilized for the trafficking of children. The measure was approved 45-0.

-SJR 31, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, would call for a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment stating that methods of execution can be changed, and stating that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment. The resolution was approved unanimously on a vote of 44-0.

-SB 725, by Sen. Mike Schulz, would prohibit an individual who has been convicted of the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult from inheriting funds or receiving any interest in the estate of the victim. The bill was approved 38-6.

• The House passed the following measures on Monday:

-HB 1008, by Rep. David Brumbaugh, would modify the definition of “blighted area” and modifies the public hearing rules for municipal governments concerning urban renewal plans. The bill passed 86-6.

-HB 1036, by Rep. George Faught, would require Emergency Medical Services stretcher van passengers be screened before transport to a medical facility. The measure passed 63-23.

-HB 1379, by Rep. Dan Fisher, would create the Protection of Human Life Act of 2015 and provides that no person will be allowed to knowingly conduct nontherapeutic research that destroys a human embryo or puts a human embryo at substantial risk of injury or death. The bill also would prohibit the transfer of a human embryo with the knowledge that the embryo will be subjected to nontherapeutic research. The bill and emergency clause passed by a vote of 80 to 13.

-HB 1616, by Rep. David Derby, permits a commissioned employee to purchase a rifle, shotgun and additional service pistols issued to them immediately prior to retirement. The bill requires the cost of buying the weapon equal the department’s replacement cost for a new weapon. The measure also requires any records regarding the ownership of each weapon transferred to be modified to reflect the transfer. Proceeds from the purchase of the weapon would be deposited in the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Revolving Fund. The bill passed by a vote of 61 to 30.

-HB 1617, by Rep. David Derby, prohibits a private or state-sponsored health benefit plan from denying coverage for medically necessary treatment prescribed by a doctor based only on an insured person's life expectancy. The bill passed by a vote of 78 to 0.

-HB 1743, by Rep. Lewis Moore, identifies the county assessor as the proper party defendant in any appeal to the district court brought by the taxpayer and vice versa. The bill passed by a vote of 98 to 1.

-HB 1834, by Rep. Seneca Scott, requires that a peace officer, at the time a child is taken into custody, inquire as to whether there is any American Indian lineage or ancestry that would make the child eligible for membership or citizenship in a federally recognized American Indian tribe or nation. If the peace officer determines that the child may have American Indian lineage or ancestry, he or she must notify the tribe or nation with 24 hours of taking the child into custody. The bill passed by a vote of 93-1.

-HJR 1002, as amended, by Rep. Dan Kirby, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would allow wineries either within or outside Oklahoma that are licensed by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission to receive orders for, sell and ship wine directly to consumers over the age of 21 years either within or without this state who have visited the winery in person. The bill passed by a vote of 58 to 37 with Kirby serving notice to reconsider the bill.

-HJR 1013, by Rep. Jerry McPeak, expresses opposition to the proposed Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ rule defining waters of the United States under the Federal Clean Water Act. The bill was approved by a vote of 92 to 0.

-HJR 1019, by Rep. Gary Banz, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would provide voters to cast one vote for both the office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The measure passed by a vote of 52 to 44.

Tuesday, March 10

• The Senate continued working towards Thursday’s floor deadline, but recessed at 3 pm on Tuesday to continue a series of Appropriations hearings with the 12 state agencies that receive more than 90 percent of all state appropriated dollars. Last week the Department of Corrections presented detailed budget information to the committee. On Tuesday, Higher Education described their budget and explained the impact of varying funding reductions. Following the hearing, members returned to the floor to continue consideration of Senate measures. Those winning approval Tuesday included:

-SB 127, by Sen. Kim David, would remove the power of the Health Care Authority Board to hire an executive director. It would also provide criteria for appointment and provide the director to be appointed by the Governor upon Senate confirmation. The bill passed by a vote of 25-21.

- The floor substitute for SB 114 by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, would create a new section of law allowing any state agency that purchases, subscribes to, or is an authorized or licensed user of the US Postal Service’s National Change of Address data to share the records with the State Election Board. The measure passed 45-0.

-SB 114, by Sen. Eddie Fields, proposes an updated definition of terms and establishes the Small Farm Winery, which is defined as a wine-making establishment that does not produce for sale more than 250,000 gallons of wine and provides for a fee of $1 for a license. The bill passed by a vote of 42-3.

-SB 398, by Sen. Frank Simpson, creates a program to assist in the burial of honorably discharged veterans of the US Armed Forces. It also provides for a burial grant for any indigent veteran or person who qualifies for financial help. The bill passed 47-0.

-SB 713, by Sen. Frank Simpson, allows the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to support the development of seven drop-in centers that would be peer supported for servicing Oklahoma veterans. The bill passed by a vote of 46-0.

-SB 177, by Sen. Jim Halligan, modifies the income level for participation in the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access program. The bill passed 33 to 8.

-SB 297, by Sen. Ron Justice, creates the Heritage Preservation Act and the Heritage Preservation Grant Program, within the Oklahoma Historical Society. The measure outlines the purpose of the program and directs to whom the funds will be allocated and how they will be used. The bill passed 36-7.

-SB 542, by Sen. Marty Quinn, permits a medical professional to prescribe a stock of epinephrine auto-injectors to any entity or organization for storage in an Emergency Public Access Station (EPAS) or to place a stock of supply of epinephrine auto-injectors at any entity or organization in an EPAS in accordance with protocols established by the medical professional. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 559, by Sen. Bryce Marlatt, modifies the term assault to include the act of causing a child to be born addicted or harmed by a narcotic drug when the harm was caused by the child's mother while pregnant. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 504, with its title restored, by Sen. Clark Jolley, relates to the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP). The bill modifies eligibility for the program to include admission to accredited universities offering online, competency-based degree programs located in the state as well as allowing awards for the program to be allocated to accredited universities. The bill passed 39-7.

-SB 690, by Sen. Clark Jolley, requires a brewer not licensed in Oklahoma selling beer to a nonresident seller to have a written Distribution Sales Agreement with the seller and the agreement be subject to inspection by the ABLE Commission. The bill passed by a vote of 42-2.

• The House of Representatives convened Tuesday and approved these bills:

-HB 1696, by Rep. Lee Denney, would allow any school district to sponsor a charter school. The measure would also allow the State Board of Education to sponsor a school that has been denied by its own home school district. The bill passed with its title stricken, 61-32.

-HB 1065, by Rep. Jadine Nallan, would require the State Board of Education to administer tests that measure only reading proficiency and proficiency in language arts to determine the promotion and retention of third grade students, as deemed by the Reading Sufficiency Act. The measure passed by a vote of 89-0.

-HB 1125, by Rep. Todd Russ, would eliminate the issuance of marriage licenses, and any marriage not contracted by a formal ceremony could be acknowledged by filing an affidavit of common law marriage with the court clerk. The bill passed by a vote of 67-24.

-HB 1326, by Rep. Scott Biggs, would require doctors, surgeons or other health professionals, as well as all teachers, administrators or other school personnel to report suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement. After making a report, law enforcement would be required to coordinate with the Department of Human Services in the investigation. The bill passed by a vote of 54-39.

-HB 1735, by Sean Roberts, would create the Oklahoma Pensions Systems Retirement Dividend Funding Act within the State Treasury for the retirement systems of the state. The bill passed 68-30.

Wednesday, March 11

• The Senate reconvened Wednesday morning for another full day on the floor. Among those measures winning approval:

-SJR 4, by Sen. Robert Standridge is an application to Congress calling for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office of its officials and for members of Congress. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday 26-20.
-SB 158, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies procedures for circulation of petitions for signatures, specifying the date and time that circulation of petitions may occur and the petition will be due to the Secretary of State. The vote passed by a vote of 43-0.

-SB 183, by Sen. Mike Schulz, adds operating a commercial motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone to the list of "serious traffic offenses," for which the Department of Public Safety may disqualify a person from operating a Class A, B or C commercial motor vehicle for 60 days after receiving a record of a second conviction of the person within a three-year period. The bill passed by a vote of 44-2.

-SB 243, by Sen. Larry Boggs, authorizes for income tax refunds to be issued by a method other than a debit card. The bill requires notice of the right to make such election to be included on the face of the Individual Resident Income Tax Return. The bill passed by a vote of 43-0.

-SB 313, by Sen. David Holt, allows eligible citizens who possess a valid Oklahoma driver license or ID card and are registering to vote at the address provided on the card, to register to vote online. The bill passed by a vote of 37-2.

-SB 379, by Sen. Dan Newberry, establishes the Real Estate Owner's Rights Act. The act would give property owners the right to construct, install and repair; and the right to manage, rent, lease and sell. The bill states an owner of residential real property is not required to obtain or hold a valid real estate broker license to manage, rent, lease or sell his or her real property. This bill states those who perform plumbing, electrical or mechanical work on residential or farm property they own may do so without being subject to certain licensing rules. The bill passed by a vote of 40-4.

-SB 383, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, allows a retail package store to stock and sell beer at below room temperature. The bill passed by a vote of 33-10.

-SB 525, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, allows any Department of Corrections employee with a valid handgun license under the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act to carry a firearm onto any property set aside for the parking of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, at any state-owned prison facility, provided the firearm is carried or stored as required by law, under the provisions of this bill. The bill passed by a vote of 41-0.

-SB 821, by the Senate Public Safety committee, would make it unlawful for a motor vehicle operator to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the motor vehicle is in motion. The bill establishes a $100 fine and prohibits the Department of Public Safety from recording or assessing points on any license holder's traffic record maintained by the department for the act. The bill passed 43-2.

-SB 535, by Sen AJ Griffin, requires the Department of Human Services to track the number of calls received on the statewide hotline for the reporting of child abuse and neglect by persons unwilling to disclose basic personal information. The bill increases the requirement in which the department is required to retain the recordings from 90 days to 12 months. The bill passed by a vote of 46-0.

-SB 549, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, modifies the annual salaries of the Governor to $147,000, Lieutenant Governor to $114,713, Attorney General to $132,825, State Superintendent to $124,373, each member of the Corporation Commission, State Treasurer, and State Insurance Commissioner to $114,713 and the Commissioner of Labor to $105,053. The bill passed by a vote of 42-0.

-SB 617, by Sen. John Sparks, modifies the amounts that may be brought under small claims procedures and allows the courts to award attorney fees not to exceed 20 percent of the judgment upon application to the court supported by sufficient documentation. The bill passed by a vote of 42-1.

-SB 711, by Sen. John Sparks, requires a copy of the recommendation of a superintendent to dismiss or not reemploy a teacher to be forwarded to the State Board of Education if the recommendation includes grounds that could form the basis of criminal charges. The bill passed by a vote of 41-3.

-SB 788, by Sen. Dan Newberry, would protect those who are authorized by law to perform or solemnize a marriage from being required to perform or solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to the free exercise of religion. The bill also provides that no church will be required to participate in a ceremony it disagrees with for religious reasons. The bill passed by a vote of 39-6.

-SB 797, with its title restored, by Sen. Kim David, 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. The bill passed by a vote of 43-2.

-SJR 30, with its title stricken, by Sen. Brian Bingman, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would allow 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. The resolution passed by a vote of 36-10.

• The House met on Wednesday. Measures approved by Representatives included:

-HB 1075, as amended, by Rep. Richard Morrissette, establishes the Eastern Red Cedar Registry Act. The bill terminates the Eastern Red Cedar Registry Board, establishes the Office of the Eastern Red Cedar Registry Coordinator and allows the office to take over any of the board's contractual rights and responsibilities. The bill creates the Oklahoma Resource Reclamation Act. The bill passed by a vote of 54 to 35.

-HB 1004, as amended, by Rep. George Faught, modifies the time period during which vehicles must properly display all lamps and illuminating devices from sunset to sunrise.
The bill passed by a vote of 69 to 22.

-HB 1276, with the title stricken, by Rep. Josh Cockroft, clarifies language related to explosives. The bill adds the transportation of explosive devices and incendiary materials; teaching or demonstrating the use of explosive devices or incendiary materials, conspiring to place explosive devices or incendiary materials and the use of explosive devices or incendiary materials to commit certain acts to the list of prohibited acts. The bill defines applicable terms. The bill passed by a vote of 92 to 0.

-HB 1353, by Rep. Wade Rousselot, 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. The bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10.

-HB 1452, by Rep. David Brumbaugh, requires the gross salary of each employee to be made available on state agency websites. It requires the data to be made available in an open-structured format that may be downloaded by the public and which allows the viewer to systematically sort, search, and access all data. The bill passed by a vote of 93 to 0.

-HB 1508, by Rep. Emily Virgin, amends language related to money obtained on behalf of minors in civil proceedings. The bill adds that the money may be deposited, in whole or in part, into a qualified College Savings Plan account under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The bill passed by a vote of 82 to 3.

-HB 1515, by Reps. Jason Nelson, Lee Denney, Leslie Osborn, Lisa J. Billy, Marian Cooksey, Sally Kern, prohibits a health benefit plan that provides coverage for cancer therapy from holding proton radiation therapy to a higher standard of clinical evidence for medical policy benefit coverage decisions than the health plan requires for coverage of any other radiation therapy treatment. It also prohibits a mandate on the coverage of proton radiation therapy by a health benefit plan. The bill passed by a vote of 97 to 0.

-HB 1549, as amended, by Rep. Earl Sears, requires evidence of financial security for a wind energy facility or portion thereof which enters into an interconnection agreement prior to Jan. 1, 2016, to file after the 15th year of operation of the facility. The bill passed by a vote of 87 to 9.

-HB 2166, as amended, by Rep. Mark McCullough, redirects oversight of the Children First Fund to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth and transfers all powers, duties and oversight of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. It also transfers oversight of the child abuse. The bill passed by a vote of 82 to 8.

-HJR 1018, with the title stricken, by Rep. Gary Banz, applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States requiring that, in the absence of a national emergency, the total of all federal appropriations made by the Congress for any fiscal year may not exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year, together with any related and appropriate fiscal restraints. The resolution directs the Secretary of State to distribute the resolution to certain federal officials. The measure passed by a vote of 53 to 42.

-HJR 1025, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would prohibit a former legislator from being employed by a state governmental entity or from receiving any form of compensation, payment or reimbursement until July 1 of the year following the end of the term of office. It would allow that former legislators could be appointed to the Governor's cabinet. It would provide former legislators could receive retirement money and money paid into a retirement plan. The measure passed by a vote of 85 to 0.

Thursday, March 12

• The Senate met early on Thursday morning and approved several bills before adjourning until Monday, March 16th, including:

-SB 298 by Sen. Marty Quinn, establishes the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act. The measure passed by a vote of 32-12.

-SB 358, by Sen. Wayne Shaw, provides for biannual compensation study pertaining to the Grand River Dam Authority. The vote was 41-1.

-SB 470, by Sen. Bryce Marlatt, would prohibit local regulation of certain oil and gas activities. The measure passed by a vote of 37-4.

-SB 638, by Sen. Mike Schulz, would authorize special permits for certain loads and modifies the formula used to calculate gross weight for trucks. The measure passed 42-0.

-SB 668 by Sen. Clark Jolley, would add an additional person to both the Oklahoma State Pension Commission, as well as the OPERS board. The measure passed 37-4.

-SB 808, by Senator Brian Bingman, would require evidence of financial security prior to construction of new wind energy facilities. The measure passed 41-0.

Other news this week

• University of Oklahoma Pres. David Boren, Gov. Mary Fallin, members of the Legislative Black Caucus along with other legislators condemned the actions of members of an OU fraternity after a racist video emerged over the weekend and went viral. The clip allegedly showed members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon shouting a racist chant, and the video attracted national and international media coverage. Boren reacted quickly, saying OU had zero tolerance for threatening racist behavior, and that it was not representative of the university. He announced the fraternity house would be closed and the organization banned from campus. On Tuesday, two students described as leading the chant were expelled.

• On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron dismissed a lawsuit by a New Jersey-based organization, American Atheists Inc., along with two of its members challenging the Ten Commandments monument that stands outside the state Capitol building. The judge ruled the group lacked legal standing to file the lawsuit.

• Governor Mary Fallin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Terry Cline presented “Healthy Oklahoma 2020: Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan” at Noble High School’s sports complex. The plan outlines strategies and sets goals to encourage Oklahomans to be healthier. The plan is supported by four flagship issues – reducing tobacco use, reducing obesity, improving the health of children and improving behavioral health.

• Gov. Mary Fallin announced the appointment of Judge Robert Hudson, of Guthrie, to the Court of Criminal Appeals this week. Hudson is a former prosecutor, having previously served as special district judge in Payne and Logan counties. He succeeds Judge Charles Johnson.

• University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced the creation of a vice president of diversity position Wednesday evening. The position will directly report to Boren and look over all diversity programs within the university. Boren said the effort to create the position been in the works for several months and he has already had several conversations with an “outstanding” black candidate. The black student alliance, Unheard, had been encouraging the university to add a vice president of diversity position since early this year. Oklahoma State University established a similar position almost 10 years ago, with black student enrollment growing by 46 percent and overall minority enrollment skyrocketing by 76 percent since the addition of the position.