The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, April 27, to Thursday, April 30, 2015

Monday, April 27

• The Senate convened on Monday and approved several bills.

-SB 70, by Sen. Marty Quinn, modifies language related to the Oklahoma Reward System. The bill requires the person eligible for a reward to have given valuable information that materially assists in the investigation of the commission or attempted commission of a crime rather than resulting in the arrest and conviction of a person accused of the commission or attempted commission of a crime. The bill passed 39 to 2.

-SB 178, by Sen. Brian Crain, prohibits consumption, possession, purchase of any intoxicating beverage and entry into places that sale intoxicating beverages by juveniles. The bill passed 41 to 0.

-SB 285, by Sen. John Ford, requires the State Board of Education to align the standards for early childhood education programs with newly adopted standards. The bill passed 42 to 0.

-SB 370, by Sen. Jim Halligan, requires an office used for public accounting to continue its accounting practice during the pendency of its sale or transfer. The bill requires the sale or transfer to be completed within 60 days. The bill defines terms sale and transfer. The bill requires notice be given to the executive director of the Oklahoma Accountancy Board within 10 days of sale or transfer. The bill establishes the purpose and ability of the executive director of the Board. The bill passed 42 to 0.

-SB 399, by Sen. Ron Justice, modifies the requirements for the length of filing period for an office for a regular or special municipal election and is required to be filed with the secretary of the county election board. The bill passed 41 to 0.

-SB 465, by Sen. Marty Quinn, permits an insurer or salvage pool authorized by the insurer when the insurer makes a total loss settlement on a vehicle to provide the Tax Commission or a motor license agency a copy of the letter of guarantee signed by the lienholder and proof of payment by the insurer of the amount specified in the letter of guarantee in lieu of a lien release, accompanied by a statement from the insurer that payment in the referenced amount has been remitted to the lienholder in satisfaction of the lien. The bill requires the insurance company or its agency to provide to the lienholder a copy of the information provided to the Tax Commission or the motor license agent and exempts the lienholder from certain requirements. The bill establishes a penalty of $100 per day, for each additional day beyond seven business days until accumulating $1,500 or the value of the vehicle, upon receipt by the lienholder of written communication demanding the release of the lien. The bill defines the term "letter of guarantee." The bill passed 39 to 1.

- SB 663, by Sen. Corey Brooks, creates the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) Act. It requires that an insurer maintain a risk management framework to assist the insurer with identifying, assessing, monitoring, managing, and reporting on its material and relevant risks. It permits this requirement be satisfied if the insurance group of which the insurer is a member maintains a risk management framework applicable to the operations of the insurer. It requires that insurers and insurance groups to conduct ORSA consistent with a provided process therein. It requires that an insurer submit to the Insurance Commissioner. The bill passed 39 to 3.

• Multiple bills updating Oklahoma's liquor laws continue to move through the legislative process as the end of session approaches.

-Proposed bills include SB 383, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, which allows for the sale of high-point beer below room temperature. It recently passed the House by a vote of 68-21 with its enacting clause stricken. The bill continues to have the title off.

- SB 424, by Sen. Brian Crain, allows the sale of beer to consumers 21 years of age or older on the premises of a brewery. The bill modifies language relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors. The bill recently passed the House by a vote of 66 to 19 and was sent to conference committee, where it will stay until the 2016 session

-SB 178, by Sen. Brian Crain, prohibits consumption, possession, purchase of any intoxicating beverage and entry into places that sale intoxicating beverages by juveniles was heard on the Senate floor Monday. The House's amendment to restore title was accepted by members and the bill passed 41 to 0. It is now on its way to the governor's desk

-SB 420 by Sen. Eddie Fields, was signed April 10 by the Governor and becomes effective Nov. 1, 2015. The bill modifies and updating definition of the terms used therein in addition to adding new definitions altogether. The establishes the Small Farm Winery, a wine-making establishment that does not produce for sale more than 250,000 gallons of wine as reported on the United States Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Report of Wine Premises Operations in addition to providing a fee of $1 for a license. It authorizes a small farm winery licensee to manufacture and bottle the wines it produces as well as bottle and sell wines produced by other small wineries.

• Several bills on the House floor were approved on Monday, including the following:

-HB 2235, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey and Rep. Earl Sears, requires the Tax Commission to enter into a contract to acquire or utilize their technology systems or information and services to authenticate income tax returns and identify fraudulent refund claims. The bill authorizes the commission to spend necessary available monies to acquire the technology and services. The bill permits the commission to release taxpayer information as necessary to the contracting party but requires the information be considered confidential and privileged. The bill prohibits the contracting company and its employees from disclosing any information obtained from the records or files. It makes a violation of the confidentiality provisions a misdemeanor. The joint committee report was adopted by a vote of 50 to 26. The bill was approved by a vote of 60 to 31. The emergency clause failed to gain approval by a vote of 56 to 35.

-HCR 1009, by Rep. Scott Biggs, recalls Enrolled HB1047. Biggs said the bill needed to be recalled because Senate staff sent the incorrect version of HB1047 to the governor. The resolution was adopted by unanimous consent.

• Gov. Mary Fallin signed 20 bills in to law on Monday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

• The Senate met briefly Tuesday morning before moving into an Appropriations meeting.

-SB 676, by Sen. Greg Treat, requires the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to submit for prior approval by the Legislature any state implementation plan required under Section 111(d) of the Federal Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, operating on the effective date of this act, before submitting any such plan to the EPA. It requires that the DEQ prepare a report that assess the effects of the state implementation plan on the state's electric power sector, electric consumers within the state, fiscal impact to state revenue, economic development impacts to the state, current and future employment numbers, and impact to local governments. The bill requires that the DEQ transmit to Legislature a copy of any state implementation plan no later than April 1 of each year following the adoption of said plan. The bill passed by a vote of 38 to 7. The bill now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

• The House debated several bills on Tuesday and approved the following:

-HB 1566, by Rep. Glen Mulready, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to initiate requests for proposals for care coordination models for aged, blind, and disabled persons. It also requires the care coordination models for members receiving institutional care to be phased in two years after the initial enrollment period of a care coordination program. It also requires the authority to promulgate necessary rules. The Senate amendments to the bill were adopted by a vote of 57 to 23. The bill was passed by a vote of 66 to 27.

-House members also accepted Senate amendments to the following bills Tuesday afternoon:

-HB 2154, by Rep. Jon Echols, creates Katie and Cayman's Law. It modifies the definition of "marihuana" to exclude cannabidiol derived from the seeds of the marihuana plant or cannabidiol derived from mature stalks. It also exempts persons under 18 participating in a clinical trial or in an expanded -access program related to administering cannabidiol for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy, a drug or substance approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use by those participants; or persons who have received written certification from a physician licensed in the state that the person has been diagnosed by a physician as having Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy, or any other severe form of epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies, the substance cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of any plant of the Cannabis sativa L. or Cannabis indica that is essentially free from plant material, and has a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on dry weight basis. Senate amendments to the bill were adopted by unanimous consent. The bill and its emergency passed by a vote of 85 to 5.

-HB 1460, by Rep. Kevin Wallace, expands the scope of state preemption to include knives under the Firearms Act of 1971. The bill also authorizes public and private schools to establish policies regulating the possession of knives on school property by students. Senate amendments were
adopted by unanimous consent. The bill passed by a vote of 81 to 4.

-HB 1477, by Rep. Justin Wood, permits each district court to utilize an approved electronic jury management system (JMS) authorized by the Administrative Director of the Courts for the random selection of grand and petit jurors and for the general administration of the jury process. The bill requires the clerk of the district court to manage the jury selection process, under the supervision of certain judges. The bill requires the presiding or chief judge to determine the number of jurors necessary. The bill establishes when and who may use the electronic system. The bill allows the district court to select jurors for municipal court. The bill prohibits public disclosure of juror information without a court order. Senate amendments to the bill were adopted by unanimous consent. The bill and its emergency passed by a vote of 84 to 0.

-HB 1651, by Rep. Steven Vaughan, adds exotic wildlife to the list of wildlife that may not be taken by trap, net, snare, cage, pitfall, baited hook, drug, poison, narcotic, explosive, swivel or punt gun, electrical device, or suppressor. Senate amendments to the bill were adopted by unanimous consent. The bill passed by a vote of 83 to 0.

-HB 1684, by Rep. Lee Denney, requires teacher training programs to include training at least once a year on the subjects of child sexual abuse, proper reporting of suspected abuse according to state law, appropriate questioning techniques for disclosures and available resources. The bill allows all public schools to establish an abuse-prevention instructional program for students and specifies requirements. The bill passed by a vote of 53 to 30.

-HB 1685, 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. Senate amendments to the bill were adopted by unanimous consent. The bill passed by a vote of 52 to 29. Its emergency clause failed by a vote of 42 to 35. Denney served notice to reconsider the vote by which the bill's emergency failed.

• Governor Fallin signed 12 bills on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

• The Senate considered several bills on Wednesday, and passed the following:

-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 bill increases from $50,000 to $75,000 the amount required to suspend the public bidding process in emergencies. The measure passed 28 to 11 after House amendments to the bill were adopted. The bill now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

-SB 92, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, defines for the purpose of performance-based efficiency contracts "state government entity" to mean the State of Oklahoma or any agency, board, commission, authority, department, public trust of which the state is the beneficiary or other instrumentality of state government, other than a public trust with the state as beneficiary whose jurisdiction is limited to one county, including, but not limited to, the following: Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Oklahoma Development Authority, Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority, Grand River Dam Authority, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Northeast Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority, and Oklahoma Public, Industrial and Cultural Facilities Authority. The bill passed 40 to 0.

-SB 116, by Sen. Don Barrington, exempts from certain requirements for private prison contractors that have a contract with the Department of Corrections private prison contractors that have a direct contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the United States Department of Justice for a facility that houses federal inmates and are monitored on-site by federal agency staff. The bill and its emergency clause passed 37 to 2.

-SB 167, by Sen. A J Griffin, adds homeowners association and town-run parks and playgrounds to the list of areas in which registered sex offenders cannot, within a 2,000-foot radius, reside. The bill passed 41 to 0.

•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. The bill requires students and student's parent or guardian to sign and return to the school an acknowledgment of receipt and review of the information. The bill allows schools to hold an informational meeting regarding sudden cardiac arrest prior to the start of each athletic season. The bill prohibits students who have collapsed or fainted without head injury from finishing the athletic activity. The bill requires athletic coaches to participate in a yearly sudden cardiac arrest training course. It states the State Board of Health and the State Board of Education will establish rules for the implementation of this act. The bill passed 25 to 13, the minimum number of votes necessary for a bill to pass. The emergency clause passed 32 to 7.

-SB 453, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes language that permits the Department of Public Safety to disregard a report of a conversion unless a warrant has been issued for the arrest of a person charged with the conversion. The bill requires the department to consider the vehicle to be stolen or converted if the person last known to be in possession of the vehicle fails, refuses or neglects to return the vehicle to the owner or lienholder in violation of any lawful court order. The bill passed 40 to 0.

-SB 591, by Sen. Clark Jolley, allows a plumbing, electrical or mechanical apprentice to receive a renewal certificate after his or her apprenticeship has expired following payment of the apprentice registration renewal fee and prohibits someone from acting as a plumbing apprentice without current and valid registration. The bill states application for renewal be sent to the Construction Industries Board. The bill makes it unlawful and a misdemeanor for any employer to employ a plumbing, mechanical or electrical apprentice who is not properly certified and for such an employee to continue practice without certification. This bill offers a 90 day period following the approval of this bill for an uncertified apprentice to achieve certification. The bill passed 37 to 3.

-SB 526, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, allows officers who complete continuing education training in excess of the required 25 hours in a calendar year to carry the additional training hours forward for one calendar year to count towards the training required in that year.

-SB0720, by Newberry and Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, prohibits the use or sale of powdered alcohol for any person or licensee. The bill defines certain terms. The bill establishes fine for violation of the provisions in the act.

• The House heard legislation on Wednesday and approved the following:

-HB 1965, by Rep Mike Christian, makes 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.

HJR 1012, by Rep. Scott Biggs, also known as the ‘Right to Farm’ bill, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to guarantee the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices. It prohibits the Legislature to pass any law which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest. It specifies that nothing in this measure should be construed to modify any provision of common law or statues relating to trespass, eminent domain, or any other property rights. The measure passed 85 to 7.

-HB 1574, by Rep. Cory T. Williams, provides a person will serve life in prison when their third felony conviction is for drug trafficking but the first two convictions did not involve drug trafficking. The bill also provides a person convicted of a third felony for drug trafficking when their prior two convictions were for drug trafficking will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. The bill passed by a vote of 56 to 29.

-HB 2128, by Rep. Mark McBride, requires a qualifying party applying for a commercial roofer endorsement to provide a certificate of good standing and a trade name report from the Office of the Secretary of the State to the Construction Industries Board. The bill states a registrar may refuse to register an applicant if he or she fails to provide a certificate of good standing or a trade name report from the Office of the Secretary of State. Senate amendments were adopted 53 to 15. The bill passed by a vote of 52 to 36. The emergency failed 44 to 35.

-HB 1462, by Rep. Kevin Wallace, exempts an agricultural producer who burns cropland, rangeland, forests or pastureland as part of management operations from a ban resulting from a resolution passed by the board of county commissioners provided that the agricultural producer complies with certain criteria specified, if the local fire department is on scene for standby. The bill passed by a vote of 51 to 38.

-HB 1283, by Rep. Josh Cockroft, requires the Department of Labor adopt rules and procedures requiring that the retail sale of compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas used as a motor vehicle fuel be dispensed in certain manners. It also authorizes and directs the department to promulgate necessary rules. It permits the department to take into consideration whether the National Conference on Weights and Measures has adopted similar standards for dispensing CNG and LNG and whether those standards use different values for GCE and DGE units and, if the National Conference on Weights and Measures has adopted different GCE and DGE units, it will be presumed that such standards should also be adopted for Oklahoma unless good cause is shown otherwise. The bill passed by a vote of 75 to 0.

-HB 1400, by Rep. Jason Murphey, requires every sales tax levy submitted to county voters for approval after Jan. 1, 2016, to embrace but one, clearly expressed subject on the ballot. The bill passed by a vote of 70 to 8.

Other news this week

• On Monday, Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced charges filed in three separate cases involving abuse of the elderly and developmentally disabled by their caretakers.

Shasta Nykkole Luckinbill, 30, was a hospice care aide employed by Valley Hospice and is being charged with one count of abuse by caretaker. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Marcia Nicole Alaniz, 34, and Russell Leon Pothuisje, Jr., 26, were caretakers at the Robert M. Greer Center in Enid. Alaniz and Pothuisje are accused of taunting a developmentally disabled resident to lick dried mucus off a wall. Alaniz and Pothusije both are charged with neglect by caretaker, verbal abuse by caretaker, assault and battery, and malicious intimidation or harassment. Each could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Raenita Dorothy Ivill, 49, worked as a certified nursing assistant at North County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Ivill faces one count of abuse by caretaker. If convicted, Ivill could spend up to 10 years in prison and face fines of up to $10,000.

• The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund now contains more than $1 billion with receipt of the state’s annual payment from the tobacco industry under the national Master Settlement Agreement. The trust fund balance grew to $1.03 billion when a deposit of $57.6 million, or 75 percent of the annual payment, was completed in late April as required by the Oklahoma Constitution. Oklahoma received a total payment of $76.9 million this year. With the latest receipts, the state has received $1.25 billion since payments began in 1999.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well-being of Oklahomans. More than $243 million in earnings have been certified since 2001, including $53.4 million last year. A board of investors chaired by the state treasurer oversees investments and certifies annual earnings, while a separately appointed board of directors has sole authority to decide how the earnings are spent. The remaining $19.2 million of this year’s annual payment has been divided between a fund used for health care-related appropriations by the Legislature and the attorney generals evidence fund.

In August 1996, Oklahoma became the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, asking for restraints against the industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses. The national Master Settlement Agreement, announced in November 1998, imposed sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, banned tobacco companies from targeting children, allocated funding for tobacco education efforts and provided annual payments based on the number of cigarettes sold in the country. Payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold.

• Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order earlier this week stating that Oklahoma will not file a State Implementation Plan (SIP) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulating carbon dioxide emissions produced by Oklahoma power plants. In 2013, President Obama directed the EPA to issue sweeping and unprecedented regulations regarding carbon emissions, citing the federal Clean Air Act section 111(d) as his legal authority. The authority of the EPA to issue such rules has been called into question by attorneys general in a number of states, including Oklahoma. The EPA's proposed rules would require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The agency is seeking state cooperation in the development of SIPs to comply with these new rules. Critics fear that the regulations would dramatically increase utility costs for families and businesses, destroy jobs and be completely ineffective in any sort of campaign to reduce global carbon emissions or mitigate global warming.

• The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety met Tuesday with the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss potential budget cuts in light of the $611 million shortfall facing the state's budget next fiscal year.

Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education's Director Marcie Mack said the agency received a flat budget of approximately $138 million for the current fiscal year, of which approximately $4 million was given by the Oklahoma Lottery. The agency is requesting an increase of $36 million in state appropriations, though Gov. Mary Fallin's preliminary budget proposed a flat budget for the third year in a row.

Of the state appropriated monies, the agency spends 11.8 percent on agency operations, 3.2 percent on workforce recovery and advancement, and 85 percent on pass-through, according to Mack. The pass-through budget goes directly to schools and teachers and this includes comprehensive schools and technology centers with a combination of 391 school districts and 29 technology centers and approximately 163,000 enrollments and 2,500 teachers. The 11.8 percent appropriated for agency operations is used for field support, professional development and skills center support. The monies currently fund 1,685 enrollments and 38 teachers in 10 correctional centers, three community correctional centers and one juvenile detention center.

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson also answered questions from several members rather than providing the committee with a presentation as other agencies have done. In the budget hearing earlier this year, the agency requested an increase of $5.7 million for FY2016. The Governor's preliminary budget proposed a flat budget of $95.7 million for the agency. Thompson was asked how the agency would react to a flat budget, a 2 percent reduction and a 4 percent reduction. Thompson said the Governor's proposed flat budget of $95.7 million is already considered a cut to the agency because they thought the agency would have those funds for a pay raise. Thompson said the agency is already working towards modernization of many of its facilities in order to keep better pace with drivers. Thompson said if the agency does not want to receive a budget cut because "we're getting to the point where people are happy with us." Thompson reiterated that if a budget cut were to occur, the agency would have to reduce some of the services offered.

• Governor Mary Fallin Wednesday named Stephen Allen, of Jenks, to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. She also reappointed board members Bob Drake, of Davis, Rudy Herrmann, of Afton, and Ford Drummond, of Bartlesville. Allen and Drake will serve terms that expire May 14, 2021. Drummond's term will expire May 14, 2020 and Hermann's term will expire May 14, 2022. All require confirmation by the state Senate.