The Oklahoma Senate


Week In Review
Monday, Feb. 15, to Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

• The Senate took up no legislation on Monday afternoon, but U.S. Senator James Lankford was introduced on the floor by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. Sen. Lankford met with several legislators throughout the day.

• The Senate General Government committee approved the following measures on Monday:

-SB 1161, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, provides procedures for federal rule and regulation review for state agencies. The bill authorizes the Legislature to disapprove certain rules and regulations and prohibits a state agency from being subject to federal rules disapproved by the Legislature.

-SB 873, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, consolidates the Office of Merit Protection Commission into the Office of Management and Enterprise Services and provides that the Office of Merit Protection Commission's executive director will then be appointed by the OMES director. The bill also strikes language that provides commission employees are classified employees.

-SB0895, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, consolidates the office of the State Bond Advisor into the State Treasurer's Office and makes the Bond Advisor an employee of the State Treasurer. The bill modifies the hiring and termination procedure for the State Bond Advisor and staff and moves the Bond Oversight Revolving Fund from the State Bond Advisor's Office to the State Treasurer's Office.

-SB1188, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, consolidates the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission into the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

-SB0912, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, requires agencies filing administrative rules with the Office of Administrative Rules, the Governor's Office and the Legislature to include a statement of the general summary explaining the gist of the rule.

-SB1029, by Sen. David Holt, authorizes termination of water and sewer services provided by separate municipality upon delinquency. The bill requires the entity requesting termination of service to provide notice to the public entity providing water service and to the account holder at least 30 days prior to the proposed termination date.
-SB1445, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, eliminates the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission and requires any reference in the Oklahoma Statutes to the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission to be deemed to be a reference to the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission. It also mandates any reference in the Oklahoma Statutes to the Director of the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission to be considered a reference to the Director of the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission.

• The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee had a brief meeting on Monday and passed the following three bills:

-SB1270, by Sen. Brian Crain, modifies requirements regarding the reporting of sales authorized by the Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act. The bill allows for internet-based reporting methods.

-SB1020, by Sen. Don Barrington, would allow agricultural producers burning land as a method of managing their property to burn land during a burn ban if the agricultural producers abide by certain procedures, including submission of the written prescribed burn plan given to the local fire department and maintenance of the plan on site when conducting the burn. The bill prohibits campfires, household trash, debris or pile burning from being included in burn plan as prescribed.

-SB1446, by Sen. Darcy Jech, removes certain application and reporting requirements relating to license applications, inspection fee reports and necessary forms and applications.

• The following bills cleared the House Common Education committee on Monday:

-HB2949, by Rep. Jason Nelson, creates the Oklahoma Education Savings Account Act and the Oklahoma Education Savings Account Program to provide additional educational options to parents for the education of students by creating education accounts for individual students empowering parents to make educational decisions for their children. It requires education savings accounts be established for individual students beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. The bill defines applicable terms and narrowly passed by a 9-8 vote.

-CS to HB1763, by Rep. John Enns and Sen. Ron Sharp, directs each school district board of education to adopt a grading policy for all students attending public school in that district to provide provisions for the assignment of grades on class assignments, examinations and final class grades. The bill also requires the policy to require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the relative mastery of an assignment by the student; to not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the quality of work by the student; and to allow a student a reasonable opportunity to make up or redo a class assignment or examination for which the student received a failing grade.

-CS to HB2404, by Rep. George Faught, increases the age in which children may attend early childhood programs from five years of age to six years of age on or before September 1.

-HB2614, by Rep. Todd Thomsen, adds an exclusion for public schools to decline to provide education services in the regular school setting for a student who has been removed from a public or private school in the state or another state by administrative or judicial process for an act of using electronic communication with intent to bully other students.

-HB3156, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, allows a school district that has received an average grade of C or above on the annual school reports prepared by the State Board of Education to elect to be exempt from all statutory requirements and State Board rules that charter schools are exempt from by adoption of a resolution by the board of education of the school district.

-HB3157, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, modifies the application for school districts that enter into mutual contracts under the Oklahoma School Consolidation and Annexation Act. The bill defines new terms and prohibits the total amount of assistance paid over the three-year period for a contract with a school employee other than a superintendent from being more than $50,000.


• The following bills were approved by the House Banking, Financial Services Committee on Monday:

-HB2353, by Rep. Todd Russ, requires a mortgage lender filing mortgages in Oklahoma to submit a successor affidavit of authority to the Department of Consumer Credit if the mortgage lender assigns, sells or transfers any mortgage filed in this state to a successor purchaser. The bill requires the affidavit to be a public record subject to public inspection.

-HB2352, by Rep. Todd Russ, requires an issuer planning to offer and sell securities in the state to file documents with the Oklahoma Securities Commission prior to initial offer or sale. The measure requires the Oklahoma Securities Commission to develop rules to implement the provisions of the bill.

-HB3104, by Rep. Chad Caldwell, modifies language related to garnishment in any court by a creditor.

• The House A&B Subcommittee on Education passed legislation on Monday, including:

-HB2797, by Rep. Ann Coody, Rep. Lisa J. Billy, and Rep. Pam Peterson, creates the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act, allowing the Legislature to affirm that it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds. The bill would also create the Public Education on the Humanity of the Unborn Child Fund and require the State Department of Education to establish, operate and maintain a public information program or programs to educate the public, including students in grades nine through twelve about the humanity of a child in utero. The bill passed 8-2.

-HB2658, by Rep. Casey Murdock, requires the Commissioners of the Land Office to make a payment in lieu of ad valorem taxes with respect to real property located in any county of the state if title to more than 10 percent of all real property in the county, as measured by acreage, is held by the Commissioners of the Land Office, effective Nov. 1, 2016. It requires the in lieu payment be made only if a lease for real property located in the county is being initiated or renewed. It requires the in lieu payment be equal to the rate of ad valorem tax applicable to agricultural lands located in the county. It requires the county assessor of each county to which payment is owed to make a determination of the average tax rate per acre for agricultural land in the county for the preceding assessment year and shall communicate that information to the Commissioners of the Land Office not later than September 1 each year.

-HB2676, by Rep. Cory T. Williams, modifies the requirements regarding in-state status for military personnel and their dependents when relating to higher education. The bill expands certain criteria for federal education and training assistance programs.

-HB2681, by Rep. Dennis Johnson, allows for a waiver of undergraduate resident tuition from institutions that are members of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education if the student is 65 or older, a resident of the state and is pursuing studies in teacher education. The bill identifies other criteria and eligibility requirements.

-HB2759, by Rep. Dan Kirby, modifies the definition of lottery or lottery games and online games under the Oklahoma Education Lottery Act.

-HB2931, by Rep. Mark McCullough, modifies language related to safety plans for school districts. The bill requires mandatory safety plans adopted by school districts and higher education institutions to follow a standard response protocol for emergency situations developed by a nationally recognized organization and be based on nationally recognized practices, as may be revised. It requires the standard response protocol ensure a uniform classroom response that is critical to school safety and security and consist of four specific actions that active participants can perform during an incident. The bill requires each plan also include measures for: security of facilities and grounds; communication with parents or guardians and the media in the event of an emergency; and safety training for school employees.

• The following measures received approval from the Senate Health, Human Services Committee on Monday:

-SB1005, by Sen. Brian Crain, creates the Oklahoma Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Plan Act. The bill exempts account balances and distributions from savings accounts established under the Oklahoma Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Plan Act from the calculation of resources for the purpose of the Statewide Temporary Assistance Responsibility System (STARS). The bill requires the State Treasurer to establish and administer the Oklahoma ABLE Savings Plan and requires that the treasurer develop and implement the program in a manner consistent with this act and subject to Section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code.

-SB1127, by Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Cyndi Munson, modifies the definition of "vulnerable adult" to include persons with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.

-SB1148, by Sen. Brian Crain, prohibits the Oklahoma Allopathic Medical and Surgical Licensure and Supervision Act from requiring a physician secure a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) as a condition of licensure, reimbursement, employment or admitting privileges at a hospital in this state. The bill defines MOC as a continuing education program measuring core competencies in the practice of medicine and surgery, approved by a nationally-recognized accrediting organization.

-SB1150, by Sen. Robert Standridge and Rep. Doug Cox, prohibits the sale or wholesale of dangerous drugs, medicines, medical gases, chemical or poisons without first obtaining a license from the State Board of Pharmacy. The bill repeals language relating to illegal acts regarding drugs and the management of pharmacies, use of support personnel and pharmacy technician permits, renewal certification and alternate methods of meeting continuing education requirements.

-SB1340, by Sen. AJ Griffin, authorizes the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to develop and implement a premium assistance plan to assist eligible Oklahomans in purchasing a health savings account plan under the Oklahoma Medicaid Program Reform Act of 2003. It also requires the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to conduct a wage audit for employers participating in the Insure Oklahoma program to ensure that wages for participants are fair and competitive. The bill requires the Department of Commerce to prepare an annual report to be presented to the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the House Speaker.

-SB1371, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Pat Ownbey, removes language that sets the rate of reimbursement from the Office of Juvenile Affairs to counties to renovate existing juvenile detention facilities, to construct new juvenile detention facilities, to operate juvenile detention facilities and otherwise provide for secure juvenile detention services and alternatives to secure detention. The bill removes outdated language. The bill also removes language that required a certain number of beds to be located in particular places. The bill requires OJA to promulgate necessary rules.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

• Tuesday was Higher Ed and FFA Day at the Capitol.

• The Senate met Tuesday afternoon and gave its approval to the first four bills of the legislative session, including:
-SB 14, by Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. Gary Banz, creates the Bill of Rights Monument Display Act, which would authorize the State Capitol Preservation Commission or its designee to permit and arrange for the placement of a monument displaying the Bill of Rights on the Capitol grounds. The bill mandates the monument to be designed, constructed, and placed on the grounds by private entities at no expense to the state. The bill passed 45 to 0.

-SB 1021, by Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Kevin Wallace, 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. The bill and its emergency clause passed 45 to 0.

-SB 1022, by Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Kevin Wallace, clarifies language related to the transfer of Roth and non-Roth funds in the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System. The bill and its emergency clause passed 46 to 0.

-SB1135, with title restored, by Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Lewis Moore, creates the Oklahoma Dental Association Mission of Mercy License Plate to be designed and issued to any person wishing to demonstrate support for the Oklahoma Dental Association Mission of Mercy. The bill requires the plates to be designed in consultation with the Oklahoma Dental Association and creates Oklahoma Dental Association Mission of Mercy License Plate Revolving Fund, funds from may be expended by the Department of Health to provide grants to the Oklahoma Dental Association for the Mission of Mercy free dental clinic. The bill passed 46 to 0.

-The Senate also adopted SR 44, by Sen. Kim David, congratulating the 2015 Class 4A State Football Champions, the Wagoner Bulldogs.

• The Senate Judiciary Meeting approved the following measures on Tuesday morning:

- SB 1214, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep Justin Wood, modifies the “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea and creates two alternate pleas, guilty with mental defect and not guilty by reason of mental illness. The language also stipulates all references to insane or insanity be deleted and replaced with mental illness or mentally ill. The bill ultimately received a unanimous do pass recommendation from the committee.

-SB1071, with title stricken, by Sen. Dan Newberry, exempts a rental residence occupant who has no rental agreement with the landlord and with whom the landlord has not consented to creating a tenancy from the provisions of the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The bill grants a landlord the right to demand that such an occupant vacate the dwelling unit or the premises or both and provides the landlord will not be required to commence eviction proceedings. It provides that if the occupant wrongfully fails to comply within a reasonable time, the occupant will, upon conviction, be guilty of a trespass and may be punished by a fine not to exceed $500 or by confinement in the county jail for a period not to exceed 30 days or by both fine and imprisonment.

-SB1175, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, creates civil liability for the greater of three times the actual damages, or up to $1,500, for a person found to be violating the provisions of the Odometer Setting Act.

-SB1511, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, allows the title of a motor vehicle that is not subject to any lien or other encumbrance to be transferred in transfer-on-death form by filing with the Tax Commission a written notice of transfer signed by the transferor and designating the transferee.

• The Senate Finance committee met Tuesday morning and approved the following legislation:

-SB 1085, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, would allow Oklahoma taxpayers to donate all or a portion of their tax refund back to the state or to make other monetary contributions. The bill would add a check-off box to individual and corporate income tax returns that permits taxpayers to contribute all or a portion of their tax refund to the General Revenue Fund. An amendment to the bill permits taxpayers to make a monetary contribution even if they do not receive a refund.

-SB1092, by Sen. Roger Thompson, limits the apportionment of tobacco taxes. The bill provides that the apportionment amounts will not exceed the amounts apportioned for FY2013 beginning July 1, 2016.

-SB1103, by Sen. Eddie Fields, limits the apportionment of cigarette taxes. The bill provides that the apportionment amounts will not exceed the amounts apportioned for FY2013 beginning July 1, 2016.

-SB1134, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, requires each individual income tax and each corporate income tax form for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016, to contain a provision to allow a donation from a tax refund for the benefit of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Indigent Veteran Burial Program. The bill also creates the Indigent Veteran Burial Revolving Fund and permits the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to provide reimbursements from the fund to a cemetery or funeral home for costs incurred burying an indigent veteran. The bill provides the maximum reimbursement cannot exceed $5,000 per veteran and total reimbursements made in calendar year 2017 are limited to $20,000.

-SB1282, by Sen. Clark Jolley, directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to enhance its efforts to discover and reduce fraud and abuse of sales tax exemptions. The bill exempts from the sales tax the sale, use or consumption of paper stock and other raw materials which are manufactured into commercial printed material in this state primarily for use and delivery outside this state. The bill states that for the purposes of this section "commercial printed material" includes magazines, catalogs, retail inserts and direct mail.

-SB1390, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, requires every employer to deduct and withhold a tax from the wages paid an employee to furnish to the Tax Commission, on or before February 28 of the succeeding year, an annual reconciliation and such other information as the Tax Commission may require pursuant to the Tax Commission's electronic data interchange program.

-SB 1073 was laid over by its author, Finance Chair Mike Mazzei. The bill would roll back the top individual income tax rate reduction from 5.25 to 5.0 percent that was triggered in Dec., 2014 when the State Board of Equalization found that FY’16 revenue would increase over FY’15 revenue. Revenues have unexpectedly fallen significantly since that time. Mazzei filed a committee substitute for the measure that will be heard next week. He felt SB 1073 was not clear enough on how the trigger would work going forward. The committee sub clarifies how the trigger will work to account for sudden economic downturns. The CS will also modify the effective date on the elimination of state and local taxes from state individual income taxes to the 2016, current, tax year. The original bill had that provision taking effect when the individual income tax rate declined from 5.0 to 4.85 percent.

• The House Judiciary, Civil Procedure Committee passed several bills on Tuesday, including:

-HB2670, by Rep. Cory T. Williams, requires the agency that is processing a seizure and forfeiture pay from funds generated by seizure and forfeiture actions certain costs when the defendant or claimant prevails in a challenge of the seizure or forfeiture. The amendment simply removes the word 'substantially' from language in the bill. The bill received a do pass recommendation from the committee.

-An amendment to HB1039, by Rep. Ben Loring, creates the Oklahoma Benefit Corporation Act and creates applicability and defines applicable terms. The bill establishes procedures to become a benefit corporation and outlines procedures for a corporation to terminate its status as a benefit corporation. The bill lists duties and responsibilities of Board of Directors, committees of the board and individual directors and establishes requirements for publically traded benefit corporations.

-HB2393, by Rep. Ben Sherrer, provides an exception for the sale of a ward's realty if the heirs have signed and filed a consent document to the sale.

-HB2399, by Rep. Scott Biggs, provides a jurisdictional requirement for emergency ex parte orders in an action for divorce, separate maintenance, guardianship, adoption or any other proceeding involving custody or visitation.

-HB3106, by Rep. Chad Caldwell, extends terms of office for the Workers Compensation Court of Existing Claims.

• The House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee approved four bills Tuesday with no debate, including:

-HB3059, by Rep. Tom Newell, allows motion picture theaters to receive a mixed beverage license to sell alcohol on their premises. The bill received no additional discussion or debate before it was put to a vote. It received a do pass recommendation by a vote of 4 to 3.

-HB2756, by Rep. Dan Kirby, allows a direct shipper's permit to be issued by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission to a winery licensed in this or any other state as a wine producer, supplier, importer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer. The bill states that a permit will allow a winery to ship up to 24 9-liter cases of wine annually directly to an Oklahoma resident over the age of 21 years for their personal use and not for resale.

-HB2773, by Rep. David Derby, provides that no dispensing protocol shall be required for the sale or dispensation of naloxone.

-HB2840, by Rep. Jon Echols, clarifies that the provisions therein not be construed to prohibit or restrict licensees who are the holders of a caterer license, who are lawfully operating at a public event held in or at a facility owned or operated by any agency, political subdivision or public trust of this state, from conducting a public event without being subject to the limitations of six events per year or for a period not to exceed three consecutive days or from allowing persons to transport alcoholic beverages from one area of the public event licensed premises to another licensed premises within the same facility provided such consumption is during the same public event.

• The following bills were also approved by the House Tuesday:

-HB1581, as amended, by Rep. Scooter Park and Sen. Greg Treat, requires state agencies to report to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services the amount of federal funds received by the agency; the source(s) of those funds; a description of any action required to be taken by the agency as a condition for acceptance of the federal funds; and a description of any action prohibited as a result of having taken the federal funds. The bill also requires the information to be made available on a state website. The amendment changes the effective year from 2015 to 2016. The bill passed by a vote of 86 to 9.

-HB2258, by Rep. Randy McDaniel and Sen. Jason Smalley, eliminates the requirement that the Oklahoma State Pension Commission include information regarding the analysis of the performance of the custodian bank or trust company in its annual financial performance report. It also removes the requirement that the annual report include a comparative performance piece. It requires the report to include changes in the investment policy statements adopted by each retirement system in the prior year and an analysis of the performance of the securities lending program and short-term investment fund of the custodian employed by each governing body of the retirement systems. The bill passed by a vote of 88 to 0.

-HB2271, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, creates the Military Privacy Protection Act. The bill adds uniformed 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. The bill passed by vote of 91 to 4.

-HB2315, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, authorizes instruction completed by the school district treasurer or encumbrance clerk within three years prior to employment to count toward satisfying the requirements of continuing education. The bill and its emergency clause passed by a vote of 88 to 0.

-HB2407, by Rep. George Faught and Sen. Jack Fry, removes the requirement that the Director of Central Services report to the Legislature and the governor information provided by state public entities as required by the Oklahoma State Recycling and Recycled Materials Procurement Act. The bill passed by a vote of 91 to 0.

• The House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee approved the following bills on Tuesday:

-The amended committee substitute for HB2428, by Rep. Sally Kern, creates the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2016. The bill defines and modifies terms used therein and prohibits the state, including any agency, department, commission or board from discriminating or taking an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. It allows a child welfare service provider aggrieved by a violation of this act to assert that violation as a claim or defense in a civil action and obtain all appropriate relief and compensatory damages with respect to that violation. It requires that a child welfare provider that prevails in such action be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. It cites constitutional authority for the legislation. The amended committee substitute passed on a vote of 5 to 2.

-HB2971, by Rep. Jason Nelson, creates the Child Welfare Review Committee for the Death and Near Death of Children with Disabilities. The bill states the purpose of the committee, sets a termination date, a report that redacts confidential information, provides for membership, establishes appointment deadline, directing how vacancies should be filled, providing for selection of officers, provides for staff assistance and requires the submission of a report to be made available to the public. The amended bill was granted a do pass recommendation from the committee.

-CS for HB2757, by Rep. Dan Kirby, prohibits court-ordered past-due child support payments, court-ordered payments of suit monies and judgments for support pursuant to Oklahoma Statutes entered beginning November 1, 2016, from drawing interest. It directs the court to apply the principles of equity in modifying any child support order due to changes in the circumstances of either party as it relates to the best interests of the children, such as an additional child born after the child in the support order. The committee granted unanimous do pass recommendations to the following bills:

-HB2491, by Rep. Ann Coody, requires the Department of Human Services to notify the designated federal authorities at the federal military installation where the active duty service member is assigned that the Department has received a report that such child may be abused, neglected or drug-endangered if the child is a member of an active duty military family. It requires an investigation or assessment include an inquiry into whether the person responsible for the health, safety or welfare of the child is an active duty service member of the military or the spouse of an active duty service member. It requires the Department to collect and report information related to the military affiliation of the person or spouse responsible for the health, safety or welfare of the child to the designated federal authorities at the federal military installation where the service member is assigned as provided. It authorizes juvenile court records and Department of Human Services agency records pertaining to a child to be inspected, and requires their contents be disclosed, without a court order to any designated federal authorities at the federal military installation where a service member is assigned, when the child is a member of an active duty military family upon showing of proper credentials and pursuant to their lawful duties.


Wednesday, February 17, 2015

• On Wednesday, the Senate met and approved the following bills:

-CS for SB260, by Sen. Ron Sharp, would require that those who have had their driving privileges suspended for driving without insurance provide proof of insurance to the Department of Public Safety in the form of an SR-22 form before their suspension for driving without insurance can be lifted. It requires that the SR-22 be maintained with DPS for three years. Anyone who fails to maintain their SR-22 with DPS will have their driving privileges suspended again until proof of insurance is re-filed. At least 36 states use some form of SR-22 reporting as a tool to combat uninsured motorists. The bill also states that when an insurance company has certified an insurance policy with an SR-22, the policy can only be terminated if the company provides notice to DPS within ten days after termination. SB 260 provides exemptions in which DPS must waive the SR-22 filing requirement including if the person dies or is incapacitated or if the person surrenders his or her vehicle registration. Title is off the bill.
A 2014 study by the Insurance Research Council estimates that nearly 26 percent of vehicles on Oklahoma roads are operating without insurance, totaling approximately 721,000 vehicles. The national average is just under 13 percent.

-SB979, by Sen. Don Barrington, will rename the section of U.S. Highway 81 in Jefferson County from the junction of U.S. Highway 81 and U.S. Highway 70 extending north and then northeast to the municipal limits of Addington as the "Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient” Command Sergeant Major Benny G. Adkins Highway to recognize this tremendous honor bestowed on the brave American veteran.

-SB 982, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, would allow the Commissioner of Public Safety, for good cause and consistent with the safe movement of the vehicle, 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 Senate Rules Committee approved the first of two liquor law modernization measures along with many other bills Wednesday. Among those were:

-SJR68, by Sen. Clark Jolley, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to rewrite Oklahoma’s liquor laws. Title was stricken. The proposed ballot to be voted on would read – “This measure enacts new sections and repeals Sections 1, 1.A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Beverages that contain alcohol would be governed by the new Article and other laws. It would require the Legislature to enact laws to regulate alcoholic beverages. Common ownership between tiers of the alcoholic beverage business would be prohibited, with some exceptions. Some restrictions would be applied to manufacturers, brewers, winemakers and wholesalers. Direct shipments to consumers would be prohibited unless direct shipments of wine are authorized by law, subject to limitations. Certain retail licenses are specified. The Legislature would prescribe other licenses. Sales of wine and beer would be permitted at certain licensed retail outlets. Licensees could sell refrigerated or non-refrigerated products, and Retail Spirits Licensees could sell products other than alcoholic beverages in a limited amount. Certain acts would be made unlawful. The Legislature would by law designate days and hours during which alcoholic beverages could be sold, and would impose taxes on sales. Certain restrictions relating to the involvement of the state and political subdivisions and public employees would be specified. Municipalities could also levy an occupation tax. The amendment would be effective October 1, 2018.”

-SB896, by Sen. Kyle Loveless, reduces the percentage of votes a political party’s nominee for governor or nominees for electors for present and vice president must receive in order to continue to be a recognized party from 10 percent to 2.5 percent of the votes cast for those offices in the general election.

-SB1016, by Sen. David Holt, modifies numerous voter registration requirements including, among others, requiring a voter registration applicant to affirmatively consent to the use of his or her driver license or I.D. card record and signature for voter registration purposes. It also requires the State Election Board Secretary to compare the information in the record of the applicant’s driver license or I.D. card of the DPS with the information submitted on the application and ensures that the information on the application substantially matches the information in the driver license or I.D. card record.

-CS for SB1108, by Sen. Ron Justice, modifies information required to be printed on election ballots. It also requires party ballots to be differentiated by color or by other conspicuous means determined by the Secretary of the State Election Board.

-SB1246, by Sen. Jason Smalley, establishes methods for filing vacancies of district judges or associate district judges.

-SJR44, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, modifies the procedure to name certain emergency interim successors and special emergency judges and authorizes the Governor to declare provisions of the act. It deletes provisions relating to emergency interim successors for legislators.

-SJR44, by Sen. David Holt, proposes a vote of the people to amend the Constitution to change the cap on the Constitutional Reserve Fund from 15 percent of the General Fund certification to 15 percent of the of the total state budget. It would also require the State Board of Equalization to certify the total amount of the state budget.

-SJR63, by Sen. Brian Crain, proposes a vote of the people for a constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to appropriate funds from the Tobacco-Settlement Endowment Trust Fund for the purposes of recruiting physicians to practice in rural areas of the state.

-SJR65, by Sen. Greg Treat, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that directs the Governor to appoint the Commissioner of Labor.

-SJR72, by Sen. Rob Standridge, proposes a vote of the people to repeal Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits the use of public monies or property for sectarian or religious purposes.

• The Senate Appropriations committee approved several bills Wednesday, among which were:

-SB1000, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, to create the Oklahoma Motorist Assist Program Act of 2016 permitting ODOT to establish a courtesy motorist assist program for the purpose of assisting disabled or otherwise stalled vehicles.

-CS for SB1130, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, modifies legislative intent relating to the Administrative Procedures Act. It requires state agencies to publish rules exempt from the Act on their respective websites. It also requires each agency to conduct an internal review by Dec. 31 of each year of its rules to determine whether each of its rules is current and is a rule as such term is defined by the Act. It requires that an agency must respond to requests to review its rules to determine whether or not the rules in question should be amended, repealed or redrafted by Executive Order by the Governor or either chamber of the Legislature or both chambers by resolution or small business within 30 calendar days of such request.

***The following bills were also approved with their titles stricken:

-SB936, by Sen. Roger Thompson, permits ODOT to employ seasonal employees throughout the calendar year under certain provisions.

- SB940, by Sen. Jason Smalley, requires the State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, to define “college readiness” as it relates to a student’s performance on statutorily required assessments and performance on the ACT, SAT, or other college placement assessments.

-SB946, by Sen. Don Barrington, amends language related to Department of Corrections exemptions to the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 when the governing board declares an emergency. It provides that such exemptions will not extend to any contract exceeding $250,000 for situations in which the emergency impacts the conditions of confinement, health and safety of inmates in the custody of the Department.

-SB953, by Sen. Susan Paddack, increases 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 of by incarceration or any person forfeiting bond when charged an offense.

-SB1030, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, creates the Oklahoma Multi-year Revenue and Expenditure Projection Act requiring agencies responsible for the collection of monies deposited to the General Revenue Fund and each Special Revenue Fund to provide current and future revenue estimates for the next two years to OMES. The bill expands the list of those to which the Oklahoma Tax Commission must provide all estimates, explanations, statements, projections, reports and other documents to include members of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees as well as the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

-SB1128, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, creates the Pension Improvement Act as well as the “Oklahoma Pension Improvement Revolving Fund” for the retirement systems of the State of Oklahoma.

-SB1164, by Sen. A.J. Griffin, modifies language regarding concussion education through the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. It requires coaches and officials to undergo yearly training. It also requires an athlete showing signs of a concussion to be removed from practice or competition.

-SB1535, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, creates a task force to make recommendations on how to increase the amount of money directed toward public school classrooms until Dec. 1, 2016. It requires the task force to, at a minimum, study the State Aid Formula, administrative expenses, personnel policies and state mandates.

• The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education approved one bill Wednesday.

-SB1305, by Sen. Marty Quinn, requires the Ad Valorem Reimbursement Fund to reimburse school districts for loss of revenue due to exemptions of ad valorem taxes for new or expanded manufacturing or research and development facilities when a funding emergency exists. It allows a school district to claim an early reimbursement of 50 percent of the amount of the reimbursement made in the prior calendar year if a declaration of a funding emergency is provided to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

• The House met Wednesday and approved numerous pieces of legislation. Some of which included:

-HB2435, by Rep. Mark Lepak, to modify limitations on reimbursement of claims and vouchers in the State Travel Reimbursement Act for official travel to not cover more than one fiscal year.

-HB2436, by Rep. Scott Biggs, creates the County Emergency Registration Act. It requires the board of county commissioners of any county affected by the declared state disaster or emergency to have the power to require the registration of any roofing contractor upon a declared state disaster or emergency.

-HB2500, by Rep. John Pfeiffer, allows the Department of Environmental Quality, to the extent funds are available, contract with the Oklahoma Rural Water Association (ORWA) for technical assistance programs to rural water and wastewater system operators throughout the state. It also authorizes the Department to contract with other nonprofit entities in addition to the ORWA for this purpose if the Department, in its discretion, determines that those entities can and will provide equally effective and efficient technical assistance services to rural water and wastewater system operators throughout the state.

-HB2518, by Rep. Randy Grau, provides an exception for medical consent for minors if an emergency exists, surgery is necessary and effort has been made to contact a parent or other adult authorized by law to consent on behalf of the minor.

-HB2624, by Rep. Leslie Osborn, removes the alternative requirement that a person selling a vehicle to a scrap metal dealer present a verified bill of sale from the owner of the vehicle or other proof of ownership and replaces it with the requirement that they present a certificate of ownership form, as approved by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and available at the OTC or through a motor license agent.

-HB2729, by Rep. Ann Coody, requires students who attain at least a proficient score on an end-of-instruction criterion-referenced test or tests intended to demonstrate mastery of academic content standards at a school in another state or at a Department of Defense school to be deemed to have satisfactorily demonstrated mastery of the state academic content standards in one or more of the subject areas listed therein and exempts them from taking end-of-instruction criterion-referenced tests in that subject area or areas.

• The House Economic, Commerce, Real Estate committee approved six bills, among them were:

-CS for HB1343, by Rep. Jason Dunnington, requires that a qualified marketplace contractor be treated as an independent contractor for all purposes under state and local laws, regulation and ordinances, including but not limited to the Employment Security Act of 1980 and the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act if provided conditions are met.

-CS for HB2626, by Rep. Leslie Osborn, adds and modifies definitions of displayed or offered primarily for rental-purchase, initial fee and initial period relating to the Oklahoma Rental-Purchase Act. The bill provides what will be disclosed to a consumer prior to executing any rental-purchase agreement when property that is not displayed or offered primarily for rental-purchase is offered as such. The bill requires an acknowledgement of rental-purchase transaction under certain circumstances and sets requirements of the signed document.

-HB2262, by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, creates the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, which prevents a home owners association, condominium association, cooperative association or residential real estate management association from adopting or enforcing any policy that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the U.S. flag at a reasonable height, not to exceed 20 feet, on their residential property with the association.

• The House State Government Operations approved three bills including:

-HB2281, by Rep. Jason Murphey, to require any public body which makes requested records available on the Internet to meet the obligation of providing prompt, reasonable access to its records.

-HB2619, by Rep. Todd Thomsen, requires, rather than permits, OMES to publish a schedule of reimbursement rates for state employee travel.

-HB3116, by Rep. Scott Martin, modifies the authority of the Director of the Office of State Finance to determine compliance with the Oklahoma State Facilities Energy Conservation Program.

• The House Rules Committee approved four bills including:

-CS for HJR1042, by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to require the Judicial Nominating Commission to submit to the Governor the names of all qualified candidates for a vacant judicial office. The resolution was also amended to 1) prohibit the nominating commission from asking any judge about their political affiliation; 2) set forth a process to develop qualifications, and provides rules to determine if a judge is qualified; and 3) makes the rules available for public comment.

-HJR1045, by Rep. Jason Nelson, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to require a minimum of five percent of earnings from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund be made available for pediatric cancer research and treatment. The fund earned over $50 million last year.

• The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed, among others, the following bills:

-CS for HB2929, by Rep. Jason Dunnington, increases fines for those businesses who violate the state’s equal pay law to account for inflation given the law was adopted in 1963. The bill’s purpose is to create better transparency of wages. It would allow an employee to inquire, discuss or make a claim regarding disparity of wages in comparison to another employee without being discharged. Oklahoma ranks below the national average with women currently earning about 73 cents to the dollar. The amount is close to 50 cents for Hispanic and African-American women. The national average is 79 cents to the dollar.

-HB2951, by Rep. Michael Rogers, requires the State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to develop programs to identify talented students and recruit those students into the teaching profession.

-HB3159, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, provides that once a person has served 85 percent of the sentence imposed, the person will be placed on the first available parole docket of the Pardon and Parole Board immediately following the date upon which the person has served the required term of imprisonment. It adds that in no instance will the number of earned credits accumulated by a person exceed five percent of the total number of days of the person’s prison sentence. It allows DOC to apply the accumulated credits after 85 percent of the sentence imposed has been served provided; however, in no instance will the application of earned credits result in the immediate discharge of the person from custody.

-HB3160, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, requires any person who is currently serving a term of imprisonment in the custody of DOC or is convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment in the custody of DOC to have the cumulative sum of all court costs and fees assessed and owed in his or her criminal case or cases reduced by three percent for every 30 days of time served on the prison sentence. It provides for certain exemptions.

• The House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee passed several bills Wednesday, among which were:

-CS for HB2937, by Rep. Mark McCullough, allows the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to implement a pilot program to provide medication-assisted treatment to persons who are participating in a drug court program and are alcohol or opioid dependent. It requires that the drug be approved by the FDA and allow ODMHSAS to select persons who have been diagnosed with an addiction or dependency. It also requires participants to be eligible for Medicaid, federal or private grant or other funding source that provides for the full payment of the treatment necessary.

-HB2443, by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, increases the time limitation for sentence modification for criminal procedure to 60 months.

-HB2472, by Rep. Pam Peterson, requires that district attorneys have the discretion to file the charge as a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony offense after considering the provided circumstances.

-HB2595, by Rep. John Bennett and Rep. Richard Morrissette, permits a court making a sentencing decision concerning a veteran to consider as a mitigating factor that the person has been diagnosed with PTSD resulting from his or her military service.

• The House Public Health Committee approved a few bills Wednesday. Among which was:

-HB3016, by Rep. Randy Grau, creating the Parental Rights Immunization Act requiring each health care provider who administers a vaccine set forth in the Vaccine Injury Table, as established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to obtain informed consent from the legal representative of any child to whom such provider intends to administer such vaccine. It requires the health care provider to provide relevant information regarding benefits and risks of the vaccine as well as information concerning the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

• The Senate met briefly Thursday morning but heard no legislation.

• The House met Thursday and approved the several bills including, among others:

-HB2484, Rep. Pat Ownbey, provides that an order appointing a permanent guardian of a child in the custody of DHS will divest the agency of legal custody and supervision of the child. The bill also provides that, upon an order of permanent guardianship, the agency may close the deprived case and that any custody or child support order stemming from the deprived action may be transferred to another court and specifies the process for the transfer.

-HB2615, by Rep. Todd Thomsen, prohibits the giving of money or a thing of value to a student-athlete or family member for the purpose of recruitment, and it prohibits any transaction between a person and a student-athlete that would likely cause the student-athlete to permanently or temporarily lose athletic scholarship and participation eligibility. Exemptions are provided for employees of postsecondary institutions that act within the official written policy of the institution that is in compliance with the NCAA, approved intercollegiate athletic awards or grants, members of the immediate family, and money or things of value given by a person to a student-athlete or immediate family that do not exceed a total value of $100 annually. A violation of the measure would result in a misdemeanor and the person would be subject to a fine or imprisonment or both. It requires both public and private high schools to advise in writing student-athletes of the provisions of the law. Lastly, it grants public and private postsecondary institutions a right of action against persons engaged in illegal activity with student-athletes.

-HB2448, by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, provides that an “electronic communication device” as used in texting while driving does not include an ignition interlock device.

- HB 2554, by Rep. Harold Wright, authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a nondomiciled commercial learner permit or nondomiciled commercial driver license to an H2A-Temporary Agricultural worker lawfully present in the U.S.

- HB 2279, by Rep. Justin Wood, creates a new section of law which directs that a peace officer is not to take a person into custody based solely on the commission of an offense involving a controlled substance if the officer has contact with the person because the person requested emergency medical assistance due to the use of a controlled dangerous substance.

-HB 2425, by Rep. Sally Kern, increases from 16 to 18 the age at which certain acts against a person are to be considered child pornography. It requires persons engaged in human trafficking to be subject to the Sex Offender Registry if the crime involved child prostitution. It also adds aggravated possession of child pornography to the list of crimes subject to Sex Offender Registry.

-HB2729, by Rep. Ann Coody, provides that a student who has moved to Oklahoma may demonstrate mastery of state academic standards if the student received a proficient score on a test intended to demonstrate mastery at a school in another state or at a Department to Defense school. The State Board of Education will determine which subject area or areas each test may be used in lieu of an EOI test. These students tests must be accounted for in rules used to calculate school A-F grades.

-HB2488, by Rep. Ken Walker, provides that a professional license held by a National Guard member or armed forces reservist be extended for up to 120 days after their discharge from active duty status.

- HB 2271, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, adds military service members to the list of persons who can request that the Secretary of the State Election Board keep confidential their residence and mailing address.

-HB2264, by Rep. Randy McDaniel, amends the Retirement Freedom Act by authorizing members of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System’s defined contribution plan to modify their contribution rate every 30 days; this is permitted only once each calendar year under current law.


Other news this week

• On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned an Oklahoma County District Court decision and found the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act, a state scholarship
program offering educational opportunities for children with disabilities, is constitutional.
The State Supreme Court found the act does not violate a section of the state Constitution that prohibits public money or public property from being used to support religious purposes. The
scholarship act was approved by the Legislature in 2010.

• The Corporation Commission on Tuesday announced the details of its largest volume reduction plan to-date for oil and gas disposal wells in Oklahoma. The plan covers 5,281 square miles and 245 disposal wells injecting wastewater into the Arbuckle formation. Combined with a 191,000 barrel per day reduction plan that began in January, Oil and Gas Conservation Division
Director Tim Baker said the total volume cutback for the entire area will be more than half a million barrels a day or about 40 percent.

• A 5.1 earthquake struck Saturday near Fairview, nearly a month after the original injection reductions were ordered by the commission. House Speaker Jeff Hickman, who lives near Fairview, called the commission's action appropriate.

• The Board of Equalization made the state's $1.3 billion budget hole a reality Tuesday, voting to approve a fiscal year 2017 revenue estimate that is nearly 16 percent less than the current year's appropriated budget. The board certified $5.9 billion in revenues for FY2017 appropriations, which is $1.1 billion, or 15.9 percent, less than was appropriated for FY2016, the current fiscal year. But the true budget hole is larger because the certified number does not include $150 million in Rainy Day Funds appropriations and $77.5 million in revolving fund authorizations for the current fiscal year.

As part of the FY2016 budget agreement, $75 million was appropriated from the Rainy Day Fund to the State Department of Education and $75 million was appropriated to the Department of Corrections. Money from the revolving funds was spread among the general appropriations made to state agencies for the current fiscal year. According to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, there will be a $1.3 billion budget hole when those figures are added to the certified revenue estimate. That is 19.1 percent less available for appropriation for FY2017 than was appropriated for FY2016.

Also on Tuesday, the board received a projection for current fiscal year revenues that shows collections will come in $549.2 million or 9.6 percent below the official estimate upon which the FY2016 appropriated state budget is based. December's projection led Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Preston Doerflinger to order 3.0 percent General Revenue Fund allocation cuts to appropriated state agencies. Office officials said Tuesday a deepened reduction to general revenue allocations will be made beginning in March. The precise amount will be determined in early March after February revenue collections are received. Oklahoma state government builds a 5.0 percent cushion into every appropriated state budget to prevent mandatory budget reductions if revenues fall below the official estimate. If revenues are projected to fall more than 5.0 percent below the estimate for the remainder of the fiscal year, a revenue failure is declared and mandatory appropriation reductions must occur to maintain a balanced budget.