The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, March 23, to Thursday, March 26, 2015

Monday, March 23

• The Senate returned from its four-day break and convened briefly on Monday but considered no legislation.

• Several bills passed out of Senate committees on Monday, including:

-HB 1721, by Rep. Pam Peterson, establishes the Oklahoma Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The bill would make it unlawful to perform or attempt a dismemberment abortion unless necessary to prevent serious health risk to the mother. The bill states only a physician or someone acting as a physician could perform a dismemberment abortion. Under the measure, violators would be fined $10,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than two years.

-HB 1066, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, adds sexual exploitation to the information to be reported in the Department of Human Services central registry.

-HB 1438, by Rep. Chad Caldwell, requires hospice programs to be managed by administrators and would also require administrators to complete eight hours of continuing educational courses each year. The bill mandates the courses consist of a minimum of 45 minutes in length and two of the eight courses be composed of ethics either in-person or online. The bill allows the Board to collaborate with organizations specializing in hospice care. The bill requires the hospice program to maintain records demonstrating the completion of the required courses.

-HB 1948, by Rep. Doug Cox, clarifies language related to the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substance Act. The measure would require doctors to check a patient database before writing prescriptions for highly addictive drugs.

-HB 2157, by Rep. Jon Echols, creates the Family Support Accountability Act, allowing any state department or agency implementing home-visiting programs to adopt and promulgate rules by which the program will operate. The bill directs the departments to work with other organization to develop processes that provide for a greater ability to collaborate, as well as share best practices and information as necessary and appropriate.

-HB 2185, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, requires any unsolicited application, proposal, bid, or any other document to obtain funding to not be considered to be confidential and be subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act and Oklahoma Open Meeting Act at all times as it relates to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund and its board.

-HB 1684, by Rep. Lee Denney, modifies the requirements for teacher training on child sexual abuse matters. The bill would not change the already established requirements but focuses in more detail on what that training must encompass. The bill clarifies appropriate reporting for child abuse claims.

-The CS for HB1034, with the title stricken, by Rep. Dan Kirby, allows a federally recognized Indian tribe to sponsor a charter school, but only when the school is located within the former reservation or treaty area boundaries of the tribe on property held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. The bill prohibits a tribe from sponsoring more than five charters per year.

-HB 1330, by Rep. Ann Coody, requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules by Dec. 1, 2015, requiring school district boards of education to waive the Oklahoma history high school graduation requirements for children of military families as defined in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, who transition with the military from another state and who have satisfactorily completed a similar state history class in another state.

-The CS for HB1685, by Rep. Lee Denney, establishes the 24/7 Tobacco-free Schools Act. The bill prohibits the use of a tobacco product on the grounds of an educational facility that offers early childhood education. This bill designates all educational facilities, as defined by the act, to be non-smoking. The committee substitute eliminates the fines from the bill and modifies the penalty from a misdemeanor to a citation.

-HB 1687, by Rep. Lee Denney, removes references to GED and replaces them with "high school equivalency test" as it relates to adult education.

-HB 1696, as amended with its title restored, by Rep. Lee Denney, allows any school district to sponsor a charter school. The bill allows the State Board of Education to sponsor a school that has been denied by its own school district and allows a sponsor to give priority to certain applicants.

• The following Senate bills were passed this week in House committees, including:

-SB 575, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, reauthorizes the ability for individual income tax return forms to contain a provision to allow a donation from a tax refund for the benefit of the Oklahoma chapter of the Y.M.C.A. Youth and Government program. The bill requires all income tax check offs to expire four years after enactment, unless reauthorized by the legislature.

-SB 331, by Sen. Robert Standridge, modifies the agency to which certain registration fees are paid. It requires fees to be paid to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for each intra-city motor bus instead of the Corporation Commission.

-SB 336, by Sen. John Ford, exempts from sales tax the sales by an organization or entity which is exempt from taxation and the sale is related to a fundraising event sponsored by the organization or entity. It adds that exempt sales may include, but are not limited to, admission tickets and auction items.

-SB 338, by Sen. Robert Standridge, authorizes the Oklahoma Tax Commission to disclose specific information to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for purposes of determining eligibility for current or potential recipients of assistance from the Oklahoma Medicaid Program.

-SB 474, by Sen. John Sparks, requires each state individual income tax return form for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015, to contain a provision allowing a donation from a tax refund to be made as a contribution to a specified Oklahoma College Savings Plan account. The bill permits the Tax Commission to release necessary taxpayer data to permit the transaction.

-SB 630, with the enacting clause stricken, by Sen. John Ford, entitles, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, a student who is identified at any point of the academic year as having a reading deficiency to intensive remediation in reading until the student is able to demonstrate proficiency in reading at the grade level in which the student is enrolled.

SB 784, with the enacting clause stricken, by Sen. Clark Jolley, requires the State Board of Education, prior to the 2017-2018 school year, consider and review a standards-based system of assessment that monitors progress toward college and career readiness for grades three through 10.

-SB 419, by Sen. Ron Justice, increases the amount to be spent by the Department of Agriculture on unwanted pesticide programs to $300,000 from $100,000.

-SB 208, by Sen. Ron Justice, creates a total fee of not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000 per year for injection of drinking water treatment residuals into a Class V underground injection well.

-SB 326, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, updates statutory language related to the weights and measure of gasoline, kerosene and other petroleum products. The bill changes the penalty fines charged by the Corporation Commission for contempt from $500 to $250 and adds that the court may order restitution for any actual damages incurred. The bill repeals language related to the commitment for nonpayment of fine, penalty or costs, offenses and costs as it relates to these products.

-SB 358, by Sen. Wayne Shaw, provides for biannual compensation of unclassified employees of the Grand River Dam Authority.

-SB 335, with title restored and as amended, by Sen. Eddie Fields, 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. The amendment requires the Tax Commission to make its finding available to the effected taxing jurisdictions.

-SB 339, with title restored, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, provides an exception to the requirement of a notarized signature on a certificate of title when there is a transfer of the ownership of a vehicle to an insurer resulting from the settlement of a total loss claim.

-SB 352, by Sen. Dan Newberry, permits any construction contract to provide for a local bid preference of up to 5 percent of the bid price if the public trust governing body determines that there is an economic benefit to the local area or economy. The bill requires the bidder to agree to perform the contract for the same price and terms as the bid proposed by the nonlocal bidder. The bill requires the bid preference to be in accordance with an established policy to clearly demonstrate the economic benefit. The bill requires the local bidding entity to be the second lowest qualified bid on the contract.

• The House approved SB 111, by Sen. Clark Jolley, increasing the amount of
fines, plus costs, fees and assessments at which a right to a jury trial is granted to $500 from $200. The bill passed by a vote of 72 to 21 and is now headed to the Governor’s desk, making it the first of the current legislative session.

-SB 180, by Sen. Anastasia Pittman, adds the requirement that a child welfare records search be conducted by the Department of Human Services for court appointed special advocates. The bill passed by a vote of 93 to 0.

Tuesday, March 24

• The Senate met briefly Tuesday but took up no legislation.

• The House met Tuesday morning for just 30 minutes. Members heard no bills and adjourned after making a few introductions.

• The following legislation was approved by Senate committees on Tuesday:

-HB 1568, by Rep. Glen Mulready, changes and adds definitions to terms related to turnpikes. 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.

-HB 1113, by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, adds a Department of Transportation maintenance vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal or flashing lights, or of a Turnpike Authority maintenance vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal or flashing lights to the list of vehicles to which drivers of other vehicles must yield the right-of-way.

-HB 1006, by Rep. Sally Kern, 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 1042, by Rep. Jerry Shoemake, prohibits parents who participate in shared parenting time from paying an increased amount of child support.

-HB 1079, by Rep. Pat Ownbey, allows the foster parents of a child to submit a report to the court for presentation at a review hearing to assist the court in reviewing the placement or status of a child.

-HB 1273, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, modifies scope of the definition of "sexual exploitation."

-HB 1772, by Rep. Charles McCall, allows a minor to make a request for the account-holding financial institution to intervene to the extent the custodial property consists of deposit accounts held at a financial institution, if the minor reaches the age for release and the custodian does not make a timely transfer of the property to the minor. It requires the request from the minor to be signed, dated and in writing, and to state that the minor has reached the age for release and the custodian has refused to distribute the remaining funds to the minor after being asked to do so by the minor after the minor was entitled to them.
-HB 1879, by Rep. Mike Christian, requires death sentences to be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is held unconstitutional or is unavailable.

-HB 1902, by Rep. Dennis Johnson, grants liability from civil immunity for any damage resulting from the forcible entry of a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a child from the motor vehicle under certain conditions. The bill provides it does not affect the person's civil liability if the person attempts to render aid to the child in addition to what is authorized by the bill.

• Senate committees met on Tuesday and approved the following legislation:

-SB 195, by Sen. Frank Simpson, creates the Voluntary Veterans' Preference Employment Policy Act. This bill allows private employers to have a voluntary preference for hiring, promoting or retaining a veteran over another qualified applicant or employee. The bill requires the policy to be in writing and applied uniformly to employment decisions.

-SB 206, by Sen. Frank Simpson, modifies language related to the National Guard Relief Program, limiting the scope of the program to financial support only.

-SB 207, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, repeals language related to disabled certificates, the Oklahoma Memorial Hospital, hospital lease, and the Oklahoma Union Soldiers Home.

-SB 321, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, requires that a written notice be given to any railroad company whose property or right-of-way is affected at least 10 days before such work begins.

-SB 389, by Sen. Dan Newberry, specifies that the location where the photo-monitoring system captured a vehicle's image be included in a notice for a toll evasion violation. The bill specifies that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will not sell or make available the names and addresses of video toll collection system account holders.

SB 46, by Sen. Ron Sharp, requires applicants for examinations for licenses to practice the fitting and dealing of hearing aids to be responsible for the full cost of examinations, re-examinations, and background checks relating to licensing and certification.

-SB 345, by Sen. Rick Brinkley, requires the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System board to develop procedures and permits it to require information from a distributing plan as it deems necessary to reasonably conclude that a potential rollover contribution is a valid rollover contribution under Section 1.401(a)(31)-1, Q&A-14(b)(2), of the Income Tax Regulations.

-SB 394, by Sen. Dan Newberry, permits the Board to contact other state agencies and nonprofit organizations for the endowment, management and administration of scholarships to students seeking a degree in an accredited architecture degree.

-SB 415, by Sen. Rick Brinkley, requires the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System to establish a defined contribution system for people 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 Sen. Rick Brinkley, removes language regarding payment of fund 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.

Wednesday, March 25

• The Senate met briefly again Wednesday but took up no legislation. Several former legislators joined current members on the Senate floor to honor the late Sen. Jerry Smith, who passed away earlier this year.

The House met briefly to consider two bills, both passing and now heading to the Governor.

-SB 262, by Sen. Susan Paddack, requires the State Department of Education along with the Oklahoma Department of Labor to make available to school districts information regarding workplace safety training for grades seven through 12. The bill passed by a vote of 92 to 0.

-The JCR to SB0820, by Sen. Clark Jolley, re-appropriates $2,856,257.00 of the original appropriation of $5,000,000, appropriated to the Office of the Attorney General from the Special Cash Fund in 2012 for the original purpose of prosecuting and defending of claims related to water and water rights in Oklahoma. The bill passed by a vote of 83 to 10 and the emergency passed by a vote of 68 to 24.

• House committees considered several bills on Wednesday and the following bills were given approval:

-SB 114, as amended, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, allows any state agency that purchases, subscribes to, or is an authorized or licensed user of the United States Postal Service's National Change of Address dataset to share the records with the State Election board.

-SB 173, by Sen. Jack Fry, increases the maximum amount of absentee ballot affidavits a notary public can authorize for a single election to 100 from 20. The amendment restores original limitation of 20 and adds language that provides notarization of ballots at the notary's place of business during regular business hours will not count toward the limitation.

-SB 312, by Sen. David Holt, modifies dates in which all local candidate election can be held. The bill requires these elections take place the first Tuesday of February or the first Tuesday in April of any year.

-SB 158, by Sen. A J Griffin, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, was laid over. The bill modifies procedures for circulation of petitions for signatures. The bill defines the term 'proponents.' The bill specifies the date and time period in which the circulation of petitions may occur and when the petition will be due to the Secretary of State. Requires the Secretary of State to proponents of an initiative and post online of the dates on which circulation for petitions for signatures may occur. The bill requires electors to sign their legally registered name and address.

SB 126, by Sen. Kimberly David, removes language related to administrative rules under the Oklahoma Advance Directive. The bill allows the State Department of Health to enter into contracts with private vendors to obtain the services necessary to meet the requirements of the Oklahoma Advance Directive Act. It adds that any costs to the public to access the registry are to be negotiated in the contracts.

-SB 239, by Sen. Ervin Yen, creates the Chase Morris Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. The bill requires the State Department of Health and the State Department of Education to jointly develop and post on their websites certain materials to inform individuals about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest.

-SB 250, by Sen. Susan Paddack, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the State Department of Health to collaborate to identify benchmarks and develop goals regarding diabetes. The bill requires both entities to submit a report to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House by Jan. 10 of odd numbers years.

-SB 23, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes outdated language from the Open Records Act. The bill adds higher education institutions to a list of entities exempt from disclosing certain business information.

-SB 24, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes the requirement that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' director conduct training specific to the State Employee Assistance Program. The bill also removes language creating and references to the duties and responsibilities of the State Employee Assistance Program Advisory Council.

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

-SB 127, by Sen. Kim David, removes the power of the Health Care Authority Board to hire an executive director and grants that power to the Governor.

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

-SB 95, by Sen. Brian Bingman, removes Technology Center School Districts from the requirements of the Oklahoma State Facilities Energy Conservation Program but encourages the districts to implement local energy conservation efforts as approved by the local technology center board.

-SB 405, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes intent language relating to contracts with retired employees. It also removes a time requirement for a part-time teaching or research position.

-SB 479, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, permits any member of the Legislature during each regular session by passage of a resolution to request a statement of legal authority for a specific facet of operations of the agency.

Thursday, March 26

• The Senate met Thursday morning and considered two bills before adjourning for the weekend.

-HB 1749, by Rep. Tom Newell, eliminates payroll deduction for state teachers to pay 3rd party organizations. The measure passed 28-16.

-HB 2177, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, et al of the House, changes the name of the 2011 Shale Reservoir Development Act and modifies certain development requirements.

Other news this week

• Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced charges this week against a New Jersey man accused of impersonating a law enforcement officer. Steven Pancoast was arrested last week by agents of the attorney general’s office and the FBI after a multi-jurisdictional task force investigated discrepancies in Pancoast’s story claiming he was a law enforcement officer with several certifications, including a CLEET certification.

• Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller Tuesday announced an initiative to bring a web-based financial education program to every high school student statewide through a partnership with education technology leader, EverFi. The Treasurer’s office will partner with local businesses and financial institutions to bring this program to local students at no cost to schools or taxpayers.

A study released in February 2015 found that students who received rigorous financial education in high school saw increased credit scores and decreased chance of credit delinquency as young adults, compared to their peers who did not receive financial education. The study also indicated that these positive outcomes are most pronounced when rigorous financial education is mandated in a school setting.

• The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into three Mr. Coolz stores in Oklahoma following a number of complaints from citizens regarding the danger of the narcotics allegedly sold at the stores. The Mr. Coolz stores, in operation since 2010, are being targeted for the alleged retail distribution of drug paraphernalia and synthetic marijuana, widely known as “Spice” or “K2.” The owners and managers of the Mr. Coolz stores are also being targeted for laundering millions of dollars in unlawful proceeds from the sale of these illegal products.

• Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced embezzlement charges against the former chief of the Higgins Volunteer Fire Department. Curtis Gregory Baker, 48, of Hartshorne, allegedly used funds designated for the Higgins Volunteer Fire Department for his own personal enrichment. The investigation occurred after a routine audit conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry raised questions regarding the department’s use of state funds.

• Expelled University of Oklahoma student Levi Pettit appeared before the public Wednesday afternoon at a NE Oklahoma City church and offered an apology for his actions in a racist chant on board a charter bus filled with Sigma Alpha Epsilon members. Sen. Anastasia Pittman and Rev. J.A. Reed were also in attendance and participated in a round-table discussion with Pettit, his parents and other members of the community prior the press conference.