The Oklahoma Senate


Week In Review
Monday, Mar. 21, to Thursday, Mar. 23, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

• The Senate met Monday afternoon and approved the following measure:

-SJR 75 by Sen. Anthony Sykes and Sen. Josh Brecheen, approves with certain instructions the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts and the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Mathematics. The instructions request that the State Department of Education staff provide implementation support, including examples to assist educators in developing their curriculum, as well as ensure the standards and curriculum frameworks provide a foundation for assessments to be implemented in 2017-18. It repeals Title 70, Section 11-103.6a-1, which was the new language from HB 3399 in 2014 that called for the Legislature to do this review of the standards. The measure passed 30 to 16 with its title restored. Its emergency clause was approved 38 to 8.

• The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved five bills as follows on Monday afternoon:

-As amended, HB 2267, by Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. Ron Justice, extends the termination date of the hospital offset payment program fee from Dec. 31, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2020. The amendment requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority review occur within 20 days of the time of deferral approval and annually thereafter in November of each year. It additionally requires the authority to review and determine the amount of the annual assessment occur within 20 days of the federal approval and annually thereafter in November of each year.

-As amended, HB 2621, by Rep. Leslie Osborn and Sen. Ron Justice, provides siblings may be separated when a court determines custody or placement of a child if the court and the Department of Human Services (DHS) find one sibling has resided in a foster family home for six or more months and has established a relationship with the foster family, the siblings have never resided in the same home together or there is no established relationship between the siblings, and it is in the best interests of the child to remain in the current foster family home placement. The amendment modifies the instances in which siblings may be separated should the court and DHS find that the placement of siblings together is contrary to the safety or well-being of one or both of said siblings.
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-HB 2586, with title stricken, by Rep. David Perryman and Sen. Darcy Jech, adds the requirement that no later than July 1, 2017, for the medical certificate portion of a death certificate to be entered into the prescribed electronic system provided by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and the information submitted to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. The bill allows the medical certification to be signed by a hospice's medical director when the patient is under hospice care at the time of death. The bill requires physicians to sign and file death certificates using the prescribed electronic system no later than July 1, 2017. The bill requires the State Department of Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to work together to ensure that the permit
applications for cremations and out-of-state dispositions function together. It also requires the State Department of Health to establish electronic accounts for each funeral home in the state.

-HB 2602, by Rep. Mike Ritze and Sen. Dan Newberry, modifies statutory references in the Medical Treatment Laws Information Act. The bill adds language that requires to licensees of the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to watch a State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision online video concerning the Hydration and Nutrition for Incompetent Patients Act, the Nondiscrimination in Treatment Act, the Oklahoma Advance Directive Act, the Oklahoma Do-Not-Resuscitate Act, and the Assisted Suicide Prevention Act. The bill provides the licensees will receive appropriate continuing education credits for watching the video. It requires that health care providers, the administrator or chief executive officer associated with inpatient health services to watch said video at least once during each consecutive two-calendar-year period.

-HB 2603, by Rep. Mike Ritze and Sen. Robert Standridge, modifies language related to the practice of medicine without a license. The bill adds a license issued under the Oklahoma Osteopathic Medicine Act as a qualifying license to practice medicine.

• The Senate General Government Committee gave the stamp of approval to eight bills on Monday, including:

-HB 2358, by Rep. Weldon Watson and Sen. David Holt, modifies the scope of a municipality from cable television services to video services. The bill requires a bargained contract between the municipality and the video services provider and provides for payment to the municipality as rental for the use of the public ways and grounds within the municipality in furtherance of its video services business. The bill allows a municipality to adopt an ordinance regulating a video services system pursuant to its police power. The bill passed 6 to 1.

-HB 2407, 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.

-HB 2710, by Rep. Charles Ortega and Sen. Roger Thompson, modifies the duties of the Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services in the Oklahoma Personnel Act.

• The House passed the following measures on Monday:

-HJR 1070, by Rep. Jeff Hickman and Sen. John Ford, passed the House by a vote of 60 to 30. The emergency clause passed by a vote of 68 to 20.

-JCR to SB 1572, by Sen. Clark Jolley, Sen. Greg Treat, Rep. Dennis Ray Casey and Rep. Earl Sears, appropriates $51 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the State Department of Education.
The Joint Committee Report was adopted and the bill, and emergency clause, passed by a vote of 96 to 0.

-The JCR to SB 1571, by Sen. Clark Jolley, Sen. Greg Treat, Rep. Dennis Ray Casey and Rep. Earl Sears, appropriates $27.6 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the Department of Corrections.
The bill passed by a vote of 76 to 21, though the emergency clause failed by a vote of 67 to 20. Bennett made a motion to reconsider the vote by which the emergency clause failed and it then passed by a vote of 69 to 27.

Both measures now make their way to the governor's desk for her approval.

• The House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education approved the first of the assigned Senate bills on Monday, including:

-SB 1038, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Scott Martin, requires the Commission for Education Quality and Accountability to establish a Teaching Certification Scholarship Program and Revolving Fund to provide qualifying teacher candidates seeking certification with a scholarship toward the cost of competency examinations. The bill requires the Commission to establish eligibility criteria. The bill requires the recipient of the scholarship to teach in Oklahoma for a minimum of one year. The bill received a do pass recommendation by a vote of 7 to 0.

-SB 932, with its title restored, by Sen. Roger Thompson and Rep. Michael Rogers, allows a public school district with an average daily membership (ADM) of less than 100 to enter into a mutual contract with a treasurer or other financial officer to provide financial services for each contracting district. It requires any mutual contract for sharing financial services to address the division of time of the employee, payment of benefits for the employee, contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System of Oklahoma and how the employee will be counted for calculating certain weights for the purposes of the State Aid Formula. The bill also requires any person responsible for the financial services of a school district to have a bachelor's degree in finance or a finance-related field at minimum or complete 40 hours of training provided by the State Department of Education within 15 months of assuming the position.

-SB 1179, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Doug Cox, expands definitions used in the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program to include health center and teaching health center. The bill permits the Physician Manpower Training Commission to accept donations of public or private funds to assist in funding the Medical Loan Repayment Program. It also permits the commission to contract with other public entities and non-profit corporations for the endowment, management and administration of such funds.


• The Senate Education committee met on Monday and approved the following bills:

-HB 2314, by Rep. Jadine Nollan and Sen. Jason Smalley, modifies language related to teacher retention pay that is not included in the total compensation of a teacher.

-HB 2315, by Rep. Jadine Nollan and Sen. Ron Sharp, 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.

-HB 2404, by Rep. George Faught and Sen. Gary Michael Stanislawski, gives the Oklahoma State Department of Education the authority to promulgate rules to create exemptions for entry into early education programs.

-HB 2544, by Rep. Jadine Nollan and Sen. Rob Stanislawski, changes the date by which a district board of education must notify the State Board of Education that it has adopted a school hours policy from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The bill removes language that permits the State Board of Education to authorize a district to implement an extended day schedule. It also removes language that requires the State Board of Education to require participating school district to prepare a report on the impact of the extended day schedule.

-HB 2694, by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, exempts the Commissioners of the Land Office from requirements to use certain construction managers, consultant and construction contract forms and excludes the agency from the definition of state agency. The bill requires Commissioners to retain qualified investment managers to provide for the management of investment real property.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


• The Senate met briefly on Tuesday and took up a few points of business, including:

-Senate Floor Leader Mike Schulz made the unanimous consent request that the Senate seek approval from the House to be adjourned more than three days beginning Thursday. The request was approved without discussion or dissent. The Oklahoma Constitution requires one chamber to request permission of the other chamber if it intends to be adjourned for more than three days. The Senate traditionally has taken off the Thursday before Easter. Senate offices are closed on Friday in exchange for working on President’s Day, which is a state holiday.

-Also on Tuesday, the Senate unveiled the portrait of Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, the first African American Deputy Marshall. The portrait was sponsored by Sen. Dan Newberry and his wife Laura, TTCU The Credit Union, WEOKIE Credit Union, Communication Federal Credit Union, Bison Federal Credit Union, Green Country, Federal Credit Union, Oklahoma Central Credit Union, and Truity Credit Union. It is a project of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund.

• Five bills won the approval Tuesday of the Senate Finance Committee with little discussion and no debate.

-HB 2349, by Rep. Dustin Roberts and Sen. Frank Simpson, exempts veterans' disability compensation payments from being included in the gross household income relating to the homestead exemption. The bill received a do pass recommendation with its title stricken.

-HB 2492, by Rep. Gary Banz, Sen. Jack Fry and Sen. Jason Smalley, expands the list of tax-exempt or nonprofit license plates to be designed for any vehicle owned and operated by the
Civil Air Patrol, a congressionally chartered corporation that also serves an auxiliary of the United States Air Force and which is exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C., Section 501(c)(3), and is used exclusively for its corporate missions of aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. It requires the plates be permanent in nature and designed in such a manner as to remain with the vehicle for the duration of the life span of the vehicle or until the title to such vehicle is transferred
to an owner who is not subject to this exemption. It requires such vehicles be exempt from the registration fees except that an initial registration fee of $25.00 which applies to each vehicle.

-HB 2775, by Rep. Charles McCall and Sen. Jason Smalley, modifies the time period related to income tax refunds and the period of time related to filing electronic returns. It also modifies due dates with respect to certain income tax returns of business entities. The bill also states that every employer who is required to deduct and withhold a tax from the wages paid an employee are to furnish to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, on or before February 28 of the succeeding year, an annual reconciliation and such other information as the commission may require pursuant to the Tax Commission's electronic data interchange program.

-HB 2776, by Rep. Charles McCall and Sen. Jason Smalley, repeals language relating the creation, qualifications, oaths, duties, expenses and term of office of the State Supernumerary Tax consultant.

-HB 2777, by Rep. Charles McCall and Sen. Josh Brecheen, reauthorizes the income tax check off relating to the Wildlife Diversity Fund.

• The House met for a short time on Tuesday and addressed the following business:

-Members of the House adopted HR1044 on Tuesday morning, proclaiming March 22, 2016, as General Stafford Day, celebrating General Thomas Stafford, the Apollo 10 commander for the first lunar module flight to the moon. A painting of Stafford was also unveiled on the House floor and will be hung in the State Capitol Building. The resolution states that Stafford flew four space missions, three of them as the mission commander and served as chief of all astronauts from 1969 to 1971. Stafford was also the first astronaut to become a general and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was presented the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President George Bush.

• The House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee approved six bills on Tuesday. All were co-authored by Rep. Dustin Roberts during a brief meeting Tuesday afternoon.

-SB 877, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, adds the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to the list of agencies permitted to hire its own attorneys until Jan. 1, 2022.

-SB 922, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, permits the Adjutant General, when absent from the state, to delegate any vested authority to an assistant adjutant general or other state officer or employee within the Military Department. The bill authorizes the Adjutant General to promulgate necessary rules.

-SB0923, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, adds the Oklahoma Military Department to a list of agencies until Jan. 1, 2022, exempt from the requirement to submit a requisition to the Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services prior to acquisition of a motor vehicle.

-SB 926, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, authorizes the Adjutant General to execute agreements with the federal government for reimbursement to the Oklahoma Military Department (OMD) for the use and operation of OMD state-owned vehicles and equipment in support of youth programs.

-SB 928, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, authorizes the Adjutant General to execute agreements with the federal government for reimbursement to the Oklahoma Military Department (OMD) for the use and operation of OMD state-owned vehicles and equipment in support of the federal reimbursable programs through Cooperative Agreement with the National Guard Bureau.

-SB 935, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dustin Roberts, exempts Oklahoma Military Department vehicles designated for use by the Adjutant General or Assistant Adjutant General in performance of their duties and Oklahoma Military Department vehicles designated for use in the State Transition and Reintegration System (STARS) program for tracking youth, as approved by the Adjutant General, from the requirement that state agencies that or lease vehicle must affix the words, "State of Oklahoma," and the name of the department or institution that owns or leases the vehicle in conspicuous letters.

• The House Judiciary and Civil Procedure Committee passed all bills heard with little discussion and no debate during Tuesday afternoon's meeting, including the following:

-SB 1113, by Sen. David Holt and Rep. Randy Grau, permits the court to order the plaintiff in any civil asset forfeiture proceeding in which the defendant or claimant prevails to pay from funds
generated by seizure and forfeiture actions: reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred by the defendant or claimant directly related to the claim on which the defendant or claimant prevailed; post judgment interest; and in cases involving currency or other negotiable instruments, interest actually paid to the state from the date of seizure or arrest of the property that resulted from the investment of the property in an interest-bearing account or instrument, and an imputed amount of interest that such currency, instruments, or proceeds would have earned at the rate applicable to the thirty-day Treasury Bill, for any period during which no interest was paid, not including any period when the property reasonably was in use as evidence in an official proceeding or in conducting scientific tests for the purpose of collecting evidence, commencing 15 days after the property was seized by a law enforcement agency or was turned over to a law enforcement agency by a federal law enforcement authority. The bill received a unanimous do pass recommendation.

-SB 44, by Sen. Robert Standridge and Rep. Jason Nelson, repeals language related to the Interstate Compact on Children.

-SB 874, with title restored, by Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. Chad Caldwell, 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 1083, with title restored, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Jon Echols, modifies the use of the affidavit of exemption relating to workers' compensation insurance under the Roofing Contractor Registration Act. The bill requires the exemption to be used only for residential construction projects, while all commercial projects are required to cover all individuals performing work to be covered by workers' compensation insurance as employees of the person registered under the Roofing Contractor registration Act. The bill allows any day laborer with proof of workers' compensation insurance under a temporary labor agency to provide an affidavit from the agency. The bill prohibits any homeowner from being held liable for injury or death to any person who performs work under a contract with a person required by law to be registered under the Roofing Contractor Registration Act.

-SB 1091, by Sen. Robert Standridge, establishes statute of limitations of limitations for Medicaid fraud, pursuant to Section 1005 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

-SB 1175, by Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. Randy Grau, creates civil liability for the greater
of three times the actual damages, or up to $1,500, for a person violating the provisions of the Odometer Setting Act.

-SB 1341, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Jon Echols, modifies language related to the board of adjustment. The bill provides that at any time during the pendency of an automatic stay or a similar provision of municipal law any party to a proceeding before the board of adjustment may object to the maintenance of the stay by filing an application with the district court to lift the stay. The bill requires the court to lift the stay if no parties object to the application. It requires the court to consider and to resolve the matter no later than 60 days following the filing of the application if any parties oppose the application to lift the stay. It requires the court determine whether the stay should remain in effect by considering the likelihood of success on the merits by the party seeking to maintain the stay; irreparable harm to the party seeking to maintain the stay if the stay is lifted; relative effect on the other interested parties; and public policy concerns arising out of the preservation of the stay. The bill permits the court to lift or preserve the stay on such terms as to bond or otherwise as it considers proper for the security of the rights of the parties.

-SB 1515, by Sen. Robert Standridge, modifies and deletes definitions relating to penalties, civil actions, procedure and jurisdiction. The bill modifies requirements for liability and increases certain penalties. The bill updates statutory references and modifies requirements for intervention. The bill establishes a statute of limitations for action and establishes procedures for intervention.

• The House Children, Youth and Family Services committee passed several bills Tuesday, including:

-SB 1381, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Elise Hall, removes some requirements of education and field experience for the Director of Corrections and the Director of Juvenile Affairs. The bill received a do pass recommendation with a 6 to 1 vote.

-SB 902, with the enacting clause stricken, by Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. John Enns, 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 1196, by Sen. A J Griffin and Rep. Jason Nelson, allows 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.

-SB 1200, by Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. John Jordan, modifies language relating to an adjudicated child in need of supervisions who has violated a court order. The amendment adds language related to runaway children and delinquent youth.

-SB 1211, with its title restored, by AJ Griffin and Rep. Josh Cockroft, 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 and group homes.

-SB 1273, as amended, by Sen. Kay Floyd and Rep. Josh Cockroft, prohibits child care facilities from using soft or loose bedding, including but not limited to blankets, in sleeping equipment or in sleeping areas used for infants. It also provides no facility will allow toys or educational devices in sleeping equipment or in a sleeping area and that no facility will place a child in sleeping equipment or in a sleeping area which has not been previously approved for use as such by the Department of Human Services. The amendment clarifies the provisions only apply to the infant sections of the homes and facilities.

-SB 1274, by Sen. Kay Floyd and Rep. Josh Cockroft, requires that certain notices in child care facilities concerning insurance be placed conspicuously and in accordance with specific requirements. The bill requires child care facilities to maintain compliance files. It requires the Department of Human Services to promulgate necessary rules. The bill establishes requirements for compliance forms.

-SB 1369, by Sen. Kay Floyd and Rep. Cyndi Munson, defines the terms "homeless children and youth," "runaway," and "youth at risk of homelessness." The bill requires information concerning youth at risk of homelessness and runaways be included in report from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth's Office of Planning and Coordination.

-SB 1370, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, requires the Department of Human Services to determine the military status of parents whose children are subject to abuse or neglect. The bill requires the department to notify a United States Department of Defense family advocacy program that there is an investigation into the parent or guardian if the department determines that a parent or guardian is currently serving on active duty in the United States military. It requires the department to forward a report of its assessment or investigation and findings to the appropriate military law enforcement entity. The bill establishes that the term "law
enforcement" includes military law enforcement if the subject of an investigation is currently serving in any branch of the U.S. military. The bill requires the department to promulgate necessary rules.

• The House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services heard its first of the assigned Senate bills Tuesday, including:

-SB 1198, by Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. John Jordan, transfers responsibility of budgeting money from the Department of Labor Revolving fund from the Legislature to the department. The bill allows the Commissioner of Labor to promulgate rules establishing a schedule of administrative penalties and fines for violations of the Oklahoma Occupational Health and Safety
Standards Act and creates the Department of Labor Administrative Penalty Revolving Fund. The bill received a unanimous do pass recommendation from the committee.

-SB 1199, by Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. Mark McBride, allows the Commissioner of Labor to promulgate rules establishing an administrative fee schedule for the registration and inspection of amusement and other rides. The bill removes the kiddie ride fee of $25. The bill creates the Department of Labor Administrative Penalty Revolving Fund.

-SB 1245, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Leslie Osborn, prohibits the lake area planning
commission from applying fees to the sale or transfer of real property.

-SB 1318, by Sen. Gary Michael Stanislawski and Rep. Leslie Osborn, allows the Corporation
Commission to revoke, suspend or deny the registration or issuance of license plates. The bill removes language regarding assessed fees and mileage reporting.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

• The Senate met briefly Wednesday morning but took up no business other than weekly acknowledgement of pages and SCR 35, by Sen. Ervin Yen of the Senate and Rep. Doug Cox of the House, designating November 2016 as "Bladder Health Month" in Oklahoma.

• The House granted the request of the Senate to adjourn for more than three days beginning Thursday, March 24, 2016 and ending Monday, March 28, 2016.

• Members of the House Rules Committee approved the following on Wednesday:

-CS to SJR 4, by Sen. Robert Standridge and Rep. Gary Banz, applies to Congress on behalf of the State of Oklahoma and under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution for calling a convention of the states for the limited purpose of proposing constitutional amendments to the U.S. Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress. It directs distribution and requests the cooperation of other state legislatures.

-SB 1056, by Sen. Jack Fry and Rep. Gary Banz, allows all photographs, videotape or other recorded images for the exclusive use of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to be used in any court in the case of an investigation or prosecution for a criminal violation. It requires that such records be available to a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency upon request for law enforcement purposes related to an investigation or prosecution of a criminal violation of the laws of the state upon the issuance of a search warrant, subpoena, or order of the court.

-SJR 45, by Sen. John Ford, Sen. Mike Schulz, and Rep. Charles Ortega, proposes a vote of the people to amend the Constitution to increase from eight to 12 the number of years the
Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Labor, Insurance Commissioner or Superintendent of Public Instruction may serve.

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

-SB 896, with the title restored as amended, by Sen. Kyle Loveless and Rep. Jason Murphey, reduces the percentage of votes a political party's nominee for governor or nominees for electors for president and vice president must receive in order to continue to be a recognized party from 10 percent of the votes cast for those offices in the general election to 2.5 percent of the votes cast for those office in the general election. The amendment changes the effective date from January 1 to November 1 of this year. The bill received unanimous approval from the committee without further discussion and no debate.

• SB 1016, with its enacting clause removed, by Sen. David Holt and Rep. Gary Banz, requires a voter registration applicant to affirmatively consent to the use of his or her driver license or identification card record and signature for voter registration purposes. The bill requires the State Election Board Secretary to compare the information in the record of the applicant's driver license or identification card of the Department of Public Safety with the information submitted on the application and ensures that the information on the application substantially matches the information in the driver license or identification card record. It requires that the digital signature contained in the driver license or identification card record of the applicant be obtained from the
Department of Public Safety and included on the application and the application be processed as provided by law if the Secretary finds that the application is in compliance with the act and all applicable laws relating to voter registration.

-SB 1108, by Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. Gary Banz, modifies information required to be printed on election ballots. The bill requires party ballots to be differentiated by color or by other conspicuous means determined by the Secretary of the State Election Board. It requires the Secretary of the State Election Board to have the authority to print only the names of the candidates for President and Vice President of the United States on the ballot and cause to be printed a supplemental list of the nominees for Presidential Electors described therein. It authorizes a list of nominees for Presidential Electors be conspicuously displayed or posted in each voting booth or otherwise made available to each voter in such a case.

-SB 1172, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. John Jordan, modifies the time period in which signed copies of a petition invoking referendum must be submitted from 30 to 60 days. The bill modifies the penalty for falsely signing swearing or signing a false affidavit from a felony to a fine of up to $1,000.


Thursday, March 24, 2015

• The House and Senate were not in session on Thursday and no committees met.

Other news this week

• Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced this week that the Libertarian Party has been certified as a recognized party in the state Monday after election officials reviewed and approved petitions submitted last month. The Libertarians gathered 42,182 signatures, and of those, 30,517 were deemed valid. The minimum number needed to certify a new party was 24,745. According to Ziriax, this means Oklahomans can register as members of the Libertarian Party, and candidates can run as Libertarian for all partisan offices in the state. He also said the Libertarian Party also will receive a ballot line for President and Vice President in November's General Election.

There is a short window for those who would like to register as Libertarians before the June statewide primary and August runoff elections. Anyone who is currently registered and wishes to change their affiliation must do so by March 31 for the change to be processed before those elections. The Libertarian Party has also notified the Secretary of the State Election Board that it will allow Independents to vote in its primary and runoff primary elections.


• By a vote of 6 to 2, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to allow Oklahoma and Nebraska to sue Colorado over its voter-approved marijuana laws and to hear a case concerning the state's license plate. Before suing one another, states must first get approval from the U.S. Supreme Court. Four justices must agree to accept the case. Oklahoma and Nebraska originally sought permission to sue Colorado in December 2014. Colorado voters legalized and regulated recreational use of marijuana in 2012. Oklahoma and Nebraska's attorneys general claimed Colorado's laws "created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress."


• By a unanimous decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional Tuesday a proposed initiative petition that calls for a statewide vote to ban abortion. The decision involved Initiative Petition 406. The proposed state question would outlaw abortion and make anyone who performs an abortion guilty of a homicide. The petition was challenged by the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the proposal violated by the U.S. and Oklahoma Constitutions. The court said the matter is controlled by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. That decision established the "undue burden" standard, which says those laws that impose a "substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability" are unconstitutional. The initiative petition's language is similar to that of a proposed Senate bill floor substitute that was not heard.

The proposed floor substitute for SB 1118, by Sen. Joseph Silk and Rep. Lewis Moore, would
have made the performance of an abortion an act of first degree murder and it would have prohibited the performance of an abortion. The bill was not heard before the Senate's March 10 third reading deadline.

• On Wednesday, Governor Mary Fallin signed two measures that will tap nearly $80 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Senate Bill (SB) 1572 appropriates $51 million to the State Department of Education to provide money for public schools and to pay the full cost of health insurance for teachers, administrators and support personnel. SB 1571 sends $27.5 million to the Department of Corrections (DOC) to pay prison staff and essential services for inmate population increases.
The $78.5 million withdrawn from the Rainy Day Fund, as authorized by SB 1571 and SB 1572, will leave a balance of about $306.5 million.

• The Workers Compensation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to stay all proceedings of cases brought under the Oklahoma Employee Injury Benefit Act, the so-called opt-out provision of the new work comp system approved in 2013. Wednesday's action comes after the commission decided Feb. 26 that the opt-out provisions were unconstitutional. The opt-out provision is supposed to permit an employer to offer their own workers' compensation plan as long as its benefits mirror those provided under a workers' compensation insurance policy. That decision is being appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. More than 60 Oklahoma companies, the commissioners have been told at previous meetings, are operating under the opt-out law and have plans on file with the Oklahoma Department of Insurance.