The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, Feb. 8, to Wed., Feb. 11, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

• On Monday, the Senate met briefly to begin the second week of the legislative session without considering any legislation. Senate Floor Leader Mike Schulz, announced that Anthony Sykes has been appointed as a member of the Senate Rules Committee.

• The Senate Pension Committee approved the following bills on Monday:

-SB 1021, by Sen. Don Barrington, updates the termination date to December 31, 2016, by which local firefighter pension and retirement boards of participating employers of the Local Firefighters Pension and Retirement System's powers, duties and functions must be assumed by the executive director unless certain circumstances arise.

-SB 1022, by Sen. Don Barrington, clarifies language related to the transfer of Roth and non-Roth funds in the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

-SB 1040, by Sen. Jason Smalley, clarifies non-Roth funds and Roth accounts as forms of payment for specified purposes listed therein relating to reinstatement, service credit and termination credit in the Law Enforcement Retirement System.

-SB 1128, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, creates the Pension Improvement Act. The bill creates the "Oklahoma Pension Improvement Revolving Fund" for the retirement systems of the State of Oklahoma. It requires that the fund be a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal year limitations, and consist of all monies received and placed in the fund for the benefit of retired members and beneficiaries of the retirement systems of the State Oklahoma from such sources as may be designated by the law. It requires that expenditures from the fund be made only pursuant to legislative appropriation from the Oklahoma Pension Improvement Revolving Fund to pay for the cost of any legislatively
authorized cost-of-living adjustment for the retirees or beneficiaries of the retirement systems of Oklahoma or to reduce the unfunded liabilities of any of the state retirement systems.

-SB 1419 as amended by Sen. Jason Smalley, modifies the membership of the Teachers' Retirement System Board of Trustees to include a member appointed by an organization with a minimum of 7,000 dues-paying retired members and allows for the organization to petition for additional nonvoting members. Two amendments to SB1419 were adopted. The first clarifies that the member will be nonvoting. The second lowers the membership threshold from 7,000 to 200.

• The Senate Health and Human Services committee approved several bills on Monday, including:

-SB 1196, by Sen. AJ Griffin, would allow sexual assault nurse examiners, during the investigation of a crime against a minor under the age of 16, to perform examinations without written parental consent. The bill expands the scope of cases in which minors may request services provided by health care professionals.

-SB 1211, by Sen. AJ Griffin, modifies requirements of advisory committees appointed by the Department of Human Services to include the utilization of subcommittees to make recommendations of best practices in licensing standards for child care centers, family child care homes, residential child care facilities, child placing agencies and group homes. On Monday, Griffin submitted an amendment for SB1211 that was approved which also adds child placing agencies to the list of facilities for which the Department of Human Services advisory committees may make recommendations for licensing standards.

-SB 1164, by Sen. AJ Griffin, was approved with the title stricken. The measure modifies language regarding concussion education through the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. The bill requires coaches and officials to undergo yearly training and requires an athlete showing signs of a concussion to be removed from practice or competition. The bill also establishes penalties for violations and requires concussion information sheets to be provided to the parent or guardian of the athlete created by the State Department of Health.

-SB 866, by Sen. Clark Jolley, repeals language that requires the Office of the State Medical Examiner to be located immediately adjacent to, or in close proximity to, the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute. The bill adds language that permits the Board of Medicolegal Investigations to determine where the office will be located.

-SB 1209, by Sen. Kim David, allows awards presented by the Commission for Rehabilitation Services to be presented at a formal or informal ceremony, banquet or reception, the cost of which may be expended from monies available in the department's operating funds. The bill requires discussion regarding the selection of the annual Commissioner's Award to be confidential.

• The following bills were approved by the Senate General Government Committee:

-SB 14, by Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. Gary Banz, creates the Bill of Rights
Monument Display Act. The bill authorizes the State Capitol Preservation Commission or its designee to permit and arrange for the placement on the Capitol grounds of a monument displaying the Bill of Rights. The bill requires the monument to be designed, constructed, and placed on the grounds by private entities at no expense to the state. It also authorizes the State Capitol Preservation Commission or designee to assist private entities in selecting a location for the monument and arranging a suitable time for its placement.

-SB 963, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. George Faught, extends the sunset date for the State Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand Reporters to 2020 from 2015 and changes references to gender neutral.

-SB 1098, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Josh Cockroft, deletes references to travel reimbursement for members of the Governor's Advisory Committee to the Office of Disability Concerns. It authorizes members to attend meetings via video conference after meeting requirements listed in the Open Meetings Act.

-SB 1156, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Josh Cockroft, requires reproduction and storage of records to be done using any generally accepted current technology to ensure safe documentation and accessibility of public records.

-SB 1182, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Bobby Cleveland, requires official acts of the Governor to be recorded and maintained by the Secretary of State. The bill repeals language relating to rewards for a criminal's arrest and eliminates the Division of Planning and Management Analysis within the Office of the Governor.

-SB1342, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Tom Newell, modifies the Taxpayer Transparency Act. It changes the term "expenditure of state funds" to the term "expenditure of funds" and includes in its definition state and federal funds. The bill removes outdated language and requires that the Open Books 2.0 website include data which track the expenditures of federal funds by program for the fiscal year 2017 and each fiscal year thereafter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

• The Senate met briefly on Tuesday afternoon, confirming the appointment of Andrew Lester of Edmond to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Lester’s appointment was approved 39 to 4 and he will serve a nine-year term ending May 16, 2025. He succeeds Marlin Ike Glass, Jr.

• The Senate Transportation Committee approved the following bills on Tuesday:

-SB 1131, by Sen. Brian Crain, permits any person or entity lawfully operating and in the course of doing business to use the public roads and highways, including the rights-of-way and all easements according to certain standards established by the bill. The bill received a do pass recommendation with its title stricken.

-SB 1000, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, creates the Oklahoma Motorist Assist Program Act of 2016. The bill permits the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to establish a courtesy motorist assist program for the purpose of assisting disabled or otherwise stalled vehicles, including the removal of the vehicle to the nearest safe location, if necessary, from state highways and interstates. The bill permits the program to be implemented in areas of the state to the extent necessary to alleviate traffic congestion. The bill also permits the department to enter into contracts with a firm, group or association as a sponsor for the program. The proposal received a do pass recommendation with its title stricken

• SB 936, by Sen. Roger Thompson, permits the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to employ seasonal employees throughout the calendar year. It provides that seasonal employees will be in the unclassified service as provided by the Oklahoma Personnel Act. It also provides that seasonal employees will not be entitled to paid leave, paid holidays, retirement, health, dental or life insurance, and will be exempt from any laws, rules or practices providing those benefits. The bill requires ODOT to include in its annual budget request a summary of the use of seasonal employees, including the number of workers employed under the provisions and the total wages paid to these employees.

• SB 979, by Sen. Don Barrington, changes the name of the Command Sergeant Major Benny G. Adkins Highway to the Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Command Sergeant Major Benny G. Adkins Highway.

• SB 982, as amended, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, permits the Commissioner of Public Safety to endorse a permit for the movement of an oversize vehicle to authorize night time travel under such terms and restrictions as the commissioner may require. The bill removes the requirement that the commissioner develop a system for provisional permits for authorized carriers which may be used in lieu of a regular permit for the movement of oversize and overweight loads when issued an authorization number by the Department of Public Safety. The amendment clarifies language to specify it is the Commissioner of Public Safety who had the authority to endorse the permits.

• The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the following bills on Tuesday morning:

-SB 902, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, prohibits anyone who is not a citizen or legal resident of the United States of America from being appointed guardian of the property or person of a minor or an incapacitated or partially incapacitated person by the courts

-SB 1201, by Sen. Dan Newberry, modifies sheriff sales and the appraisal of land if a general or special execution is levied upon the land and tenements of by certified real estate appraisers.

-SB 874, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, increases the fair market value of property owned by a decedent and subject to disposition by will or intestate succession, less liens and encumbrances, from up to $20,000 to up to $100,000 that must be delivered to the successor at any time 10 or more days after the date of death of a decedent upon presentation an affidavit made by or on behalf of the successor.

-SB 941, by Sen. Mike Schulz, requires that a court equally apply the same percentage reduction to any court-ordered monetary obligation owed by the defendant including, but not limited to, fines, court costs and costs of incarceration if the court determines that a reduction in the restitution due is warranted.

-SB 1405, by Sen. Dan Newberry, prohibits the county clerk from collecting a fee for filing a document required related to flood determination for real property and requires the county to create a county flood determination form to be filled as a prerequisite for filing the deed.

• The Senate Finance Committee continued discussion on modifying tax credits and approved the following bills:

-SB 977, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, creates the Fiscal Responsibility Moratorium Act. The bill establishes a moratorium from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2018 (FY2017), on certain tax credits, including: income received as compensation for personal services in another state; Oklahoma Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit; for Oklahoma coal production; for investments in qualified clean-burning motor vehicle fuel property; for eligible expenses incurred by entities primarily engaged in the business of providing child care services; for owners of residential real property whose primary residence was damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster after Dec. 31, 2011, for which a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration was issued or during calendar year 2012 or calendar year 2013 for which a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration was not issued; for electricity generated by zero-emission facilities; for qualified rehabilitation expenses; Oklahoma Earned Income Tax Credit; for donations to biomedical research institutes and cancer
research institutes; for eligible expenditures incurred by a contractor in the construction of energy efficient residential properties; for eligible wages paid by an employer to an injured employee; for eligible taxpayers' qualified railroad reconstruction or replacement expenditures; Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act; for tuition reimbursement for employers in the aerospace sector, for qualified employers' compensation of qualified employees in the aerospace sector and for qualified individuals employed in the aerospace sector; Wire Transmitter Fee Credit; Affordable Housing Tax Credit; Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit; for financial institutions making loans under the Rural Economic Development Loan Act; a claim for property tax relief on the amount of property taxes paid on the household occupied by persons 65 or older or any totally disabled person who is the head of a household, resident of and living in Oklahoma during the preceding calendar year and whose gross income did not exceed $12,000; and the sales tax relief credit. The bill received a do pass as amended recommendation from the committee with its title stricken.

-SB 1308, by Sen. Jason Smalley, creates the Zero Emission Tax Credit Transparency Act of 2016. The bill requires each taxpayer claiming a credit for electricity generated after Jan 1, 2017 to report specified information to the Oklahoma Tax Commission on a monthly basis for each turbine.

-SB 1437, by Sen. Darcy Jech, requires any credits claimed relating to the construction of energy efficient residential property for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017, be equal to 75 percent of the amount calculated.

-SB 1442, by Sen. Marty Quinn, requires the amount of tax credit allowed to be equal to 75 percent of the amount calculated as provided in subsections therein for any credits claimed for certain investment or job creation for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2017.

• The House took up no business Tuesday morning, only taking a few minutes to recognize two groups of students before moving on to announcements and introductions. The Kingfisher FFA Agricultural Issues team was recognized Tuesday for winning a national championship in their category earlier this year. Also recognized was the Choctaw High School Lady Jackets state champion fast pitch softball team.

Wednesday, February 10, 2015

• The Senate met briefly Wednesday, adopting a resolution honoring the Class B fall baseball champions. The Senate adopted SR 41, by Sen. Bryce Marlatt, and congratulates the Leedey Bison for winning the 2015 Class B Fall Baseball State Championship.

• The House met Wednesday afternoon and the first group of bills this session was heard on the House floor. The following were among the measures that passed:

-HB 2247, by Rep. Randy McDaniel and Sen. Jason Smalley, creates the Experienced Teacher Support Act and requires a public school that hires a retired member of the Teachers' Retirement System on or after its effective date to make a contribution to the system equal to 11 percent of the regular annual compensation of the member. The bill permits a retired member of the system who is employed by a public school or after its effective date but before the expiration of 36 months from the member's retirement date to receive earnings up to $18,000 without any reduction in their retirement benefit. It also provides if the earnings exceed $18,000, that the member's benefit will be reduced by $1 for each $1 over the limit, as provided in existing statute. The bill provides there will be no limit on allowed earnings or reduction of the retirement benefit of the member for the period of time the member is employed by a public school after the expiration of the 36-month period if the member is employed by a public school for a period in excess of 36 months after the member retires. The bill modifies references to the words "postretirement" and "preretirement." The bill passed by a vote of 93 to 2.

-HB 2263, by Rep Randy McDaniel, modifies language related to the Teachers Retirement System. The bill makes changes to the application for retirement and extends the 30 day filing period to 60 days before the date of retirement. It allows the system's executive director to waive the 60 day deadline for good cause, as defined by the board. It also authorizes individuals who are also beneficiaries of a trust created under the Oklahoma Discretionary and Special Needs Trust Act, or comparable Trust Act in another state, to be the designated beneficiary if named by the trustee. It provides how benefits will be calculated. The bill also changes the amount related to the payment of monies without intervention of probate court from $5,000 to $25,000 in the case of a member's death, who leaves no living beneficiary. It requires those claiming to be legal heirs to provide trust documents or affidavit that a will does not exist. It allows the Board of Trustees to have more than one Medical Board and requires each board to have the same duties and authority. The bill also allows the Board to provide the Pension Commission with direct access to the same data from the custodian bank for the system in lieu of compiling and distributing a quarterly report. The bill also requires employers to make information concerning compensation and service credit to the system. It also requires the participating employer to cooperate with the system's auditors during an audit of its financial statements or financial operations of the system. The bill passed by a vote of 92 to 3.

-HB 2348, by Rep. Dustin Roberts and Sen. Frank Simpson, modifies the duties of the
Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard Adjutant General and exempts Army and Air National Guard personnel from certain provisions relating to unlawful carry in certain places. The bill allows the Adjutant General to delegate authority when absent from the state. The bill allows for the execution of agreements with the federal government for reimbursement to the Military Department state-owned vehicles and equipment in support of youth programs. The bill also exempts the Military Department from the provisions of the Oklahoma Surplus property Act. The bill passed by a vote of 97 to 0.

• The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary met Wednesday and approved the following bills,

-SB 953, by Sen. Susan Paddack, would increase from $9 to $10 the fee the court is required to order be paid by any person convicted of an offense, including traffic offenses but excluding parking and standing violations, punishable by a fine of $10 or more or by incarceration or any person forfeiting bond when charged an offense.

- SB 965, also by Sen. Susan Paddack, adds members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol fallen in the performance of their duties to the list of those eligible to have costs associated with signage related to the naming of highways and bridges waived.

-The CS for SB 6, by Sen. Don Barrington, and Rep. John R. Bennett, permits the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation director to authorize commissioned Investigated Services Division personnel to be eligible to receive a $1,500 annual expense allowance to reimburse eligible expenses for the purchase, maintenance, replacement, and cleaning of business professional clothing, business casual clothing, range uniforms, crime scene uniforms, footwear, and accessories as defined by bureau policy. The bill requires all personnel who receive the expense allowance to submit receipts to the Investigative Services Division director to verify that the items purchased were eligible purchases as defined by the bureau's policy.

• The House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education committee met and among the measures approved Wednesday were:

-HB 2951, by Rep. Michael Rogers, requires the State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to develop a program to identify talented students and recruit them into the teaching profession. The bill does state, however, that the programs would be implemented subject to availability of funds. The bill received a unanimous do pass recommendation.

-HB 2314 by Rep. Jadine Nollan, modifies language related to teacher retention pay that is not included in the total compensation of a teacher. The bill is an extension of Rep. Katie Henke's bill last legislative session, which allowed districts to grant one-time incentive pay to be granted to teachers. The bill would expand those provisions to include retention pay as well.

-HB 3114, by Rep. Scott Martin, is a request of the State Department of Education and would create a career ladder for teachers. Martin indicated the bill would encourage mentorship in public schools and was modeled after legislation in Iowa. The bill received a do pass recommendation.

• The House Elections and Ethics Committee approved the following measures on Wednesday:

-HJR 1037, by Rep. Kevin Calvey, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would provide that voters would elect for a four-year term the justices of the Supreme Court, the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the judges of the Court of Civil Appeals at a nonpartisan election in a manner provided by statute beginning in the general election in 2018 and in every other general election thereafter. The amendment would provide that the governor would by appointment fill vacancies until the next election for state officers, during which the unexpired term would be filled by a nonpartisan election in according with statutes. The amendment would require qualifications for candidacy for judicial positions to be established by statute. It would also abolish the Judicial Nominating Commission.

-HB 2271, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, would create the Military Privacy Protection Act. The bill adds uniform service members to the list of classes of registered voters for whom the State Election Board Secretary is authorized to promulgate rules to keep confidential the residence and mailing address, upon application to do so, of individual registered voters who are members of the classes.

-HB 3055, by Rep. Tom Newell, allows a school district board of education member to be recalled upon submission of a petition to the secretary of the county election board. The bill requires the petition to be signed by 25 percent of the school district electors, allowing a special election to be called. The bill sets terms for special elections.

-HB 3103, by Rep. Chad Caldwell, allows the vacancy of a district board of education to be filled by appointment of the board if there is a vacancy and no candidate has filed to fill the position. The bill requires preference to be given to members of the district.

• The House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee considered several measures on Wednesday and approved the following:

-The CS for HB 2751, as amended, by Rep. Pam Peterson, changes the penalty for embezzlement in an amount less than $1,000 from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also changes the penalty for someone charged with writing bogus checks in an amount less than $1,000 from a felony to a misdemeanor. The amendment adds language that allows an aggregate amount to count as a felony. The amendment was adopted and the bill with its committee substitute and as amended received a do pass recommendation from the committee.

-The CS for HB 2292, as amended, by Rep. Wade Rousselot, changes the statute of limitations for a victim to come forward if the victim was a minor at the time of the commission of the crime for crime of rape or forcible sodomy, sodomy, lewd or indecent proposals or acts against children, involving minors in pornography, child abuse, child sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.

-HB2425, by Rep. Sally Kern, increases the age for persons considered a child prostitute from anyone less than 16 years of age to anyone less than 18 years of age.

-HB2450, by Rep. James Leewright, increases fines to individuals found impersonating a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces by wearing any decoration or medal authorized by the Congress of the United States for the Armed Forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation thereof, except when authorized under regulations as authorized by the applicable federal law to $1,000.00.

-HB3161, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, deletes references related to products and services produced by prison industries. It eliminates the prohibition that bars products and services from being purchased by the general public and also eliminates the recordkeeping requirement.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

• The Senate met briefly Thursday morning and adopted SR 43, by Sen. Ralph Shortey recognizing Stick Keiner and Camp Ironhorse for their work in rebuilding Steelman Estates after the May 19, 2013 tornado. Following announcements and introductions of the students who paged for the Senate this week, the Senate adjourned for the weekend.

Other news this week

• State agency directors and finance officers were told Monday by Office of Management Enterprise Services Director Preston Doerflinger to expect additional fiscal year 2016 cuts to their monthly General Revenue Fund allocations beginning in March.
Doerflinger indicated exact amount of additional cuts will be determined Feb. 16 when the Board of Equalization meets to consider a new revenue estimate for FY2017 and will be presented a new projection from FY2016.

State Treasurer Ken Miller reported Friday that January collections were down by almost $150 million, or more than 13 percent compared to the same month of the prior year, marking the first double-digit percentage decline in monthly gross receipts since the treasurer's office began tracking them in March 2010. The impact of a decrease in gross revenues compared to one year ago on the General Revenue Fund estimate varies, particularly depending on the tax sources in which the declines take place and historical tax collections trends on which the monthly estimates are based.

• State Treasurer Ken Miller announced Wednesday a television and internet marketing campaign was launched this week to help Oklahomans find and claim their unclaimed property. The public service announcements feature a character named Sirius Lee Scissortail, Oklahoma’s Treasure Catcher, who encourages Oklahomans to visit to search for their unclaimed property. Miller said he hopes the message, which uses no taxpayer funds, will drive more people to find their lost money.

Visitors to who find their names can initiate claims and monitor the progress through the site. The unclaimed property program is seeking to reunite 900,000 Oklahomans with more than $585 million. Businesses that lose track of people to whom they owe money are required to submit the funds, along with the names and last-known addresses of the owners, to the state treasurers unclaimed property program. The office then works to reunite the owners with their lost money. Unclaimed property includes bank accounts, security deposits, old paychecks, royalties, rebates, stock and bonds. Safe deposit box contents are also included.