The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, May 4, to Thursday, May 7, 2015

Monday, May 4

• The Senate convened on Monday and approved several bills.

- SB 41, by Sen. Jack Fry, modifies the definition of "pistols" to include discharging a "series of projectiles." The bill changes the reference from "pistol" to "weapon" in the statue concerning physical or deadly force against an intruder. The bill also adds language that excludes certain property referenced by statute from barring the carrying of concealed or unconcealed weapon. The bill passed by a vote of 39 to 7, with House amendments adopted and will be sent to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

-SB 134, by Sen. Corey Brooks, allows an OHP officer and an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent, upon retirement, to purchase the shotgun or rifle issued to them at the original price paid for the firearm. The bill passed 44 to 2.

-SB 136, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, 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. It also permits the board to negotiate contracts with the providers of these courses and provide school districts with certified supplemental online courses with an emphasis in science, technology, engineering, math, foreign language and advanced placement courses. The bill passed 40 to 5.

-SB 322, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to post a temporary reduced speed limit for maintenance operations or when special hazards are present. The bill and its emergency clause passed 44 to 1.

-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. The bill passed 42 to 1.

-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 passed 41 to 4.

-SB 715, by Sen. Jason Smalley, requires the suspension of a criminal proceeding if a person who is found to be incompetent because he or she requires treatment but capable of achieving competence through treatment be committed to the legal custody of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or be remanded to the county detention facility. The bill requires the individual to receive an initial competency attainment treatment in the legal custody of the Department or in the county detention center provided by the Department. The bill and its emergency clause passed 44 to 1.

-The Senate also adopted the Joint Committee Report for HB 2235, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey and Rep. Earl Sears, and passed the bill 29 to 17. The bill 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.

• Earlier this year, the Senate unanimously approved new rules allowing bills to be filed after the traditional bill filing deadline. The bills could be assigned to, adopted by and heard by a committee, but it would not be eligible to move to the Senate floor unless it received approval from Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. As such, two new bills were filed Monday relating to payroll deductions for state employees. Both SB 833 and SB 834 were authored by Sen. Kyle Loveless.

- SB 833 removes language authorizing payroll deduction for state employees for subscriptions to Oklahoma Today magazine, which is published by the Department of Tourism and Recreation.

-SB 834 removes language authorizing payroll deductions for state employees, as well as municipal, county or school district employees, for any bank, credit union or savings association having an office in Oklahoma.

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

-HB 1044, by Rep. Ken Walker, allows a state agency employing more than 10 full-time employees to develop a State Employee Suggestion Program. The bill states that the program will provide economic incentives to employees who make suggestions which result in direct cost savings of at least $5,000. The bill allows the organization to financially reward the employee once per fiscal year with at most 20 percent of the cost savings. The bill replaces the Committee for Incentive Awards for State Employees and replaces it with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The measure was not debated before it was put to a vote. House members adopted Senate amendments by a vote of 53 to 32. The bill passed by a vote of 65 to 23 but its emergency clause failed 59 to 26.

-The following measures also had their Senate amendments adopted and the bills passed:

-HB 1047, by Rep. Scott 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 clarifies references to violent crimes. The bill passed by a vote of 91 to 0.

-HB 1052, by Rep. Randy McDaniel, requires the Oklahoma State Pension Commission members of the House and Senate to be nonvoting members. It modifies the membership of the committee from one member of the banking industry to one member of the financial services industry. The bill passed by a vote of 72 to 16. The emergency passed by a vote of 61 to 27.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

• The Senate met Tuesday morning and addressed the following:

-House amendments to the following bills were adopted and the bills passed:

-SB 29, with title restored, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, requires the State Department of Education to provide written notice by Oct. 1 of each year to the last known address of any individual who held any license or certificate issued by the State Board of Education which expired on June 30 of that year. The bill also requires the notice to be provided to the last known district which employed the individual. The bill requires the license or certificate to be renewed with an effective date of July 1 of the year in which the license or certificate has expired, unless other statutory basis exists for denying such renewal, if any individual whose license or certificate has expired submits a renewal application and processing fee by Dec. 31 of the year in which the license or certificate expired. The bill and emergency clause passed 45 to 0.

-SB 147, by Sen. Frank Simpson, modifies the use of funds in the Patriot License Plate Revolving Fund to include, but not be limited to, the production of historical documents, displays, videos, and books that capture the National Guard's involvement in overseas deployments and domestic operations within the United States for members of the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma public school libraries, and civic leaders, as determined by the Adjutant General. The bill and emergency clause passed 42 to 0.

-SB 248, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, removes the requirement for the Tax Commission to exchange damaged cigarette stamps given to cigarette wholesalers. The bill deletes the authority of wholesalers to sell cigarette stamps to distributers. The bill modifies procedures regarding stamps returned to a manufacturer, requiring certain proof to be given to the Tax Commission. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-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. The bill passed 41 to 2.

-SB 376, by Sen. Dan Newberry, applies the Uniform Consumer Credit Code to leases and loans entered between a resident of this state and a seller or lender via the Internet or other electronic means. The bill allows those aggrieved by an agency order of the Administrator of Consumer Credit to seek judicial review. This bill states the Consumer Credit Advisory Committee may advise the Commission of Consumer Credit regarding matters pertaining to the Department of Consumer Credit and provide recommendations. The bill passed 28 to 16.

-SB 377, with title restored, by Sen. Dan Newberry, adds loan serving and mortgage lending to the conditions of the Oklahoma Mortgage Secure and Fair Enforcement Licensing Act. The bill removes certain requirements for mortgage licensees regarding inactive status. This bill adds one hour of Oklahoma law and regulations instruction to the requirements for pre-licensing education. The bill passed 42 to 2.

-SB 494, by Sen. David Holt, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to coordinate with domestic violence sexual assault programs certified by the Office of the Attorney General who provide counseling services for victims of domestic violence to ensure that any explanation of benefits and billing information provided, maintained, monitored, or otherwise handled by the authority or any other state agency, including, but not limited to, services rendered by such facilities, is not sent by paper mail to the actual physical address of persons receiving such services. The bill requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board to promulgate necessary rules. The bill also creates the Commitment to Care for People with Complex Physical Disabilities Act and defines related terms. The bill requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to take into consideration the unique medical and functional needs of members with complex physical disabilities when preparing or adjusting its budget. It requires OHCA to provide coverage for specialty provider services, specialized equipment, and supplies for people with complex physical disabilities. It specifies how the agency is to proceed with such considerations. The bill also directs OHCA to establish focused regulations and policies for CRT products and
services. It directs the regulations and policies to consider customized services and specifies those considerations. The bill passed 28 to 10.

-SB 751, by Sen. Kimberly David, allows a law enforcement agency to contract a third party to transport individuals to and from designated site for the purpose of examination, emergency detention, protective custody and inpatient services, provided the third party meets minimum standards as determined by the Department. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-The Senate also adopted the Joint Committee Report for HB 2234, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, and Rep. Earl Sears, which limits the amount the Corporation Commission may spend for responding to occurrences of seeping natural gas to 8 percent of the Corporation Commission Plugging Fund. The bill removes from the definition of the term seeping natural gas that is leaking from a distribution pipeline operated by a private natural gas utility regulated by the Commission that serves no more than 300 customers. The bill eliminates language creating the Corporation Commission Gas Seep Fund and limitations on expenditures from the fund. The bill and its emergency clause passed by a vote of 45 to 0.

• The House met briefly Tuesday afternoon approving three bills. The House also made a motion to request Thursday and Friday off from the Senate.

-The House adopted Senate amendments to the following bills and gave them passing votes:

-HB 1376, by Rep. Randy McDaniel, specifies the employees eligible for a defined contribution system established by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System as those in a full-time position or a position that is more than half-time and qualifies for employee benefits. It allows an employee who begins participating in a defined benefit plan on or after November 1, 2015, in one of the positions listed, to continue to participate in the defined benefit plan only as long as he or she continues to be employed in that position. The bill passed by a vote of 70 to 0.

-HB 1920, by Rep. John Jordan, requires the restatement of an interrogatory in court before answering. The bill states for requirements for the appointment of a discovery master. The bill passed by a vote of 66 to 13.

-HB 2187, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, gives the Pardon and Parole Board authorization to use electronic monitoring devices for any inmate sentenced for a crime or granted parole. This bill states an inmate may pay the Board for the equipment or fees required for the monitoring. It gives the board the authority to determine whether the person has the ability to pay all or part of such costs or fee. The bill passed by a vote of 76 to 0.

-HB 1616, by Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, and Sen. Robert Standridge, requires the State Medical Examiner to promptly report to the offices of the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Executive Director of the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the Executive Director of the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners all deaths occurring within the state which were the result or probable result of abuse of a controlled dangerous substance. The bill passed by a vote of 86 to 0.

-The following measures had Senate amendments adopted and the bills were passed:

-HB 1118, by Rep. Pam Peterson, creates the Child Care Center Bill of Rights which specifies a child care center may not be penalized if a center employee has completed required training by the Department of Human Services but documentation is not updated. The bill establishes an appeals process for a center to DHS in the event DHS reduces the rating of a child care center. It also exempts the center from being penalized if an employee is terminated for inappropriate conduct. The bill also establishes procedures for DHS to launch an investigation. It also permits the license for the child care center to be transfer to a new owner in the event the entity or person sells the center. The bill and its emergency clause passed by a vote of 71 to 4.

-HB 1148, by Rep. Randy Grau, requires two or more adjoining counties or jurisdictions to bear the cost of the construction of a bridge, or bridges, over any stream forming a boundary line between such counties, in manner that is agreed by said counties. It requires all county highways on county lines in the state to be maintained and constructed by the adjoining counties, and permits county commissioners of each of the counties between which such roads are located to enter into agreements to provide for said maintenance and construction. The bill and emergency passed by a vote of 86 to 1.

-HB 1150, by Rep. Randy Grau, eliminates treatment facilities from a list of certain mental health recovery facilities prohibited from being located within a certain distance from certain schools. The bill passed by a vote of 76 to 10. The emergency failed 49 to 37 with Grau serving notice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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

-SB 386, by Sen. John Sparks, removes the population requirement of a county to
build a county-owned parking lot. The bill and emergency clause passed 34 to 9.

-SB 456, with title restored, by Sen. Clark Jolley, permits each county to assess on any civil case filed in district court, upon approval by the board of county commissioners, a sum not to exceed $10 to be credited to the Sheriff's Service Fee Account for the purpose of enhancing existing or providing additional courthouse security. The bill passed 28 to 14.

-SB 562, by Sen. Kim David, modifies the exemption of the Grand River Dam Authority and its Board members from the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act to include security plans and procedures related to its role as an electric utility regulated by the federal government. The bill passed 38 to 3.

-SB 797, 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 42 to 1.

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

-HB 1403, by Rep. John Pfeiffer, creates the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act, the purpose of which is to provide certainty of ownership for disaster animals by providing an owner with a specific time frame by which the owner is required to reclaim companion animals following a declared deferral disaster or state emergency and to provide an animal shelter with specific guidelines as to how long disaster animals are required to be held prior to their disposition. It requires animal shelters to keep certain animals according to the applicable holding period with certain exceptions. The bill and emergency clause passed by a vote of 76 to 0.

-HB 1681, by Rep. Randy Grau, requires an action, if it is commenced alleging tort liability on the part of the state, to name as defendant the state or political subdivision. The bill states in no instance will an employee of the state be named defendant. The bill and emergency passed by a vote of 81 to 2.

• The following bills also received approval from the House after Senate amendments were adopted:

-HB 1630, by Rep. Lisa Billy, requires the Department of Corrections to send notification to all county jails in this state that bed space is required to house the overflow population of state inmates prior to contracting with a private prison operator to provide housing for state inmates. It authorizes the sheriff of a county jail upon receiving notification to enter into agreements with DOC to provide housing for said inmates. It allows reimbursement for the housing cost to be negotiated as a per diem rate for each inmate but prohibits the cost to be less than the per diem rate provided for in state law. It specifies notification and inmate transfer requirements. The bill passed by a vote of 93 to 1.

-HB 2014, by Rep. Jeff Coody, creates the Special Reserve School Resource Officer Act. The bill allows a handgun to be carried into any public elementary or secondary school by personnel who have successfully complete a special reserve school resource officer academy if a policy has been adopted by the school district. The bill requires the special reserve school resource officer academy to be conducted by CLEET and include a minimum of 50 hours. The bill requires participation to be voluntary. The bill requires the officer to have statewide peace officer certification while performing official duties. It allows a board of education for a school district to adopt a policy to authorize the carrying of a handgun onto school property by school property if certain provisions are met. The bill and emergency passed by a vote of 82 to 12.

• Rep. Earl Sears filed HB 2236 Wednesday, which would reinstitute the Voluntary Compliance Initiative for past due taxes to run from Sept. 14 to Nov. 13 subject to the availability of funds. The bill provides that past dues taxes remitted to a collection agency during the period will have debt collection contract fee waived. The bill lists qualifying taxes. The bill removes language establishing a delinquent penalty for taxes not paid during the two-month period of the Voluntary Compliance Initiative. The bill will be assigned to the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. The House side of the committee is scheduled to consider the bill Monday.

• Governor Fallin signed 30 bills on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

• The House was not in session on Thursday. The Senate met briefly, passing only one bill before adjourning for the weekend.

-SB 430 by Sen. Rick Brinkley, pertains to the Precious Metal and Gem Dealer Licensing Act, increasing the hold period pertaining to law enforcement and associated penalties. The measure passed by a vote of 36-2.

Other news this week

• After five years on the job, Workers Compensation Commissioner Denise Engle announced she will leave her post to return to the private business sector in an executive position with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Engle was one of the first three commissioners named to the panel, which was created in 2013 by Senate Bill 1062. The bill began phasing out the state's judicial-based work comp system and created an administrative workers compensation system.

Gov. Fallin also announced April 1 she had accepted the resignation of Troy Wilson, Sr., the commission's first chair. His resignation takes effect May 31. She named Dr. LeRoy Young, of Oklahoma City, to replace Wilson on the commission. The appointments must be approved by the Senate.

• Six candidates filed Monday in the race for House District 73 and three candidates filed in the House District 85 contest. The special elections will fill the unexpired terms of former House District 73 Rep. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, who resigned his House seat after being elected to the Senate District 11 seat in April, and former House District 85 Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, who passed away in April.

The six candidates filing in the House District 73 race were all Democrats:
Jennettie P. Marshall;
Regina Goodwin;
Joe Williams;
Jonathan Townsend;
Jeanetta D. Williams;
Norris Minor; and
Robert Lewis

The five candidates filing in the House District 85 race were:
Ralph Crawford;
Amy Palumbo;
Chip Carter;
Matt Jackson; and
Cyndi Munson, the only Democratic candidate in the race thus far, filed Monday, as well.
Special Primary Elections will be held July 14 for both seats, with Special General Elections on Sep. 8.

• Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation this week extending the waiting period for women getting an abortion to 72 hours. House Bill 1409 increases the time for voluntary and informed consent before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. 1409 takes effect Nov. 1.
When the measure takes effect, Oklahoma will become the fourth state with a 72-hour waiting period.

• Gov. Mary Fallin also signed HB1965 into law Tuesday, making texting while driving illegal when the bill takes effect later this year on Nov. 1. The introduced House bill made the offense secondary, though a Senate amendment by Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, made it a primary one. According to the National Safety Council, one out of every four car accidents is caused by texting and driving and in Oklahoma in 2013, there were 14 fatal crashes and 602 injury crashes. Fallin said she hopes the bill will save lives and discourage individuals from texting while driving. Oklahoma is the 46th state to pass legislation banning texting while driving.