The Oklahoma Senate

Week In Review
Monday, May 2, to Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

• The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved six different executive nominations Monday as follows:

-Daniel Chad Dillingham, of Enid, to the Board of Regents of the Northern Oklahoma College, to serve a five-year term ending June 30, 2021, succeeding Keith James.

-Dr. Stanley L. Evans, of Oklahoma City, to the Board of Trustees for Langston University-Oklahoma City and Langston University-Tulsa, to serve a seven-year term ending June 30, 2023, succeeding M. L. Jemison.

-Ronald Lawson, of Spiro, to the Board of Regents for Carl Albert State College, to serve a seven-year term ending July 1, 2023, succeeding himself.

-A. Thomas Loy, of Oklahoma City, to the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, to serve an unexpired term ending April 6, 2017, succeeding Hilarie Blaney.

-Kevin S. Perry, of Edmond, to the Board of Regents for Oklahoma City Community College, to serve a seven-year term ending April 22, 2023, succeeding Theresa Moisant.

-Clarke Stroud, of Norman, to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, to serve a seven-year term ending June 30, 2023, succeeding himself.

• The following House amendments to the following bills were adopted and the bills passed on Monday during a brief Senate floor session.

-SB 911, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Justin Wood, allows the board of education of each school district to adopt a procedure that requires students to perform campus-site service for violating a district's discipline policy. The bill provides guidelines for the policy including granting an exemption for children under the age of 8 or those on an individualized education plan. It requires the district board of education to establish an appeals process and specify whether appeals are to be to a local committee composed of district administrators or teachers or both or to the district board of education. The bill also requires a district's policy to adhere to all state and federal privacy laws regarding student data. The amendment removes any requirement for reporting on the student program. The bill passed 35 to 9.

-SB 944, by Sen. Roger Thompson and Rep. Leslie Osborn, modifies the Oklahoma Rental-Purchase Act. The bill defines the terms "displayed or offered primarily for rental-purchase," "initial fee" and "initial period." The bill adds language modifying disclosures under the disclosures required by the Oklahoma Rental-Purchase Act. The bill passed 39 to 4.

-SB 1217, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Randy Grau, expands the definition of the Inpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment of Minors Act to include physician assistant. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 1249, by Sen. Kay Floyd and Rep. Lee Denney, establishes the deadline for determination of final protective order to be within six months. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 1273, by Sen. Kay Floyd and Rep. Josh Cockroft, creates Shepard's Law. The bill 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 bill and its emergency clause passed 36 to 7.

-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. The bill and its emergency clause passed 35 to 7.

-SB 1360, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Pat Ownbey, modifies statutory references to organ procurement organizations. The bill also permits a hospital to adopt guidelines for the interaction between organ procurement organizations and hospital staff. It provides that nothing in the Oklahoma Uniform Anatomical Gift Act should be construed as to authorize an organ procurement organization to use coercion or emotional abuse of patients, families of patients, physicians or hospital staff in any aspect of the organ donation process, including but not limited to the testing and screening of potential donors and the procurement of organs. The bill passed 42 to 0.

• The House adopted Senate amendment and passed the following bills:

-HB 1717, by Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. Wayne Shaw, authorizes the Grand River Dam Authority to utilize CLEET-certified volunteer reserve officers. The bill passed 88 to 0.

-HB 2264, by Rep. Randy McDaniel and Sen. Jason Smalley, modifies the time period of employee contribution rate selections in the Retirement Freedom Act from once per year to once per month for any contribution that is more than the 4.5 percent rate. The bill passed 87 to 1.

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

-HB 2503, by Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Mulhall, and Sen. Nathan Dahm, prohibits the Oklahoma Sheep and Wool Commission from expending more than 35 percent of the funds it receives for administrative expenses and removes all references to the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. The bill passed 94 to 1.

-HB 2616, by Rep. Todd Thomsen and Sen. Eddie Fields, modifies language related to the Oklahoma Telecommunications Act of 1997. The bill updates language related to the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF). The bill modifies the procedure for eligible providers to seek and obtain funding and allows the OUSF administrator to issue a determination within 60 days of the receipt of a request. The bill allows 15 days to file a request for reconsideration. The bill adds and modifies definitions relating to the measure. The bill deletes language relating to services declared to be Special Universal Services and redefines terms and conditions. The bill allows the Corporation Commission to investigate each request for funding. The bill outlines the beneficiary approval process and the eligible provider reimbursement process. The bill and its emergency clause passed 90 to 1.

-HB 2902, by Rep. Ben Loring and Sen. Kim David, creates the Public Health and Safety Act of 2016. The bill modifies the amount of drugs that qualify for a diversion program. It also allows violations for paraphernalia to be included in the program. The bill passed 78 to 19.

-HB 3025, by Rep. John Jordan and Sen. Jason Smalley, adds criteria under which the State Board of Education is permitted to grant an alternative placement teaching certificate to include a person who has successfully completed a terminal degree, such as a doctorate of philosophy, a doctorate in education, professional doctorates, a master of fine arts degree or a master of library science degree, from an institution accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency which is recognized by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education. The bill requires the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to be consulted to verify other terminal degrees, or that the person holds at least a baccalaureate degree from an institution whose accreditation is recognized by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and has qualified work experience in a field that corresponds to an area of certification as determined by the State Board of Education. The bill also requires a person to demonstrate competency or completed a major in a field that corresponds to an area of specialization for an Elementary-Secondary Certificate or a Secondary Certificate as determined by the State Board of Education or a vocational technical certificate as recommended by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. The bill passed 64 to 28.

-HB 3039, by Rep. John Jordan, and Sen. Wayne Shaw, creates the Debt to Society Act of 2016. It authorizes county sheriffs to establish and maintain a work release program for the benefit of nonviolent felony and misdemeanor offenders and outlines the requirements of such program. The bill allows the prison sentence of the person to be reduced by earned early release time in accordance with procedures developed and promulgated by the sheriff. It requires the earned early release time to be for good behavior and good performance in the work release program as determined by the sheriff and prohibits the sheriff to credit the person with earned early release time in advance of the person actually earning the credits. It also prohibits the aggregate sum of earned early release time exceed one-third of the total sentence. The bill outlines requirements for suspension and termination from the program. It allows the earnings of the participant to be used for certain payments. The bill passed 90 to 0.

-HB 3114, by Rep. Scott Martin and Sen. AJ Griffin, creates the Empowering Teachers to Lead Act. It establishes the framework requirements for the Act. It provides requirements for the variety of teachers listed therein. The bill sets a framework to accomplish certain career paths, leadership roles, goals and salaries. The bill defines terms and requires the board of education of a school district to implement the framework and appoint a site-based review council for each school site. The bill requires the council to fulfill certain duties. The bill requires the Department of Education to submit an annual report. The bill passed 62 to 24.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

• The Senate adopted SR 58, by Sen. Wayne Shaw, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the national motto. Members also considered and approved the two bills as follows on Tuesday:

-SB 1150, by Sen. Ervin Yen 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 prohibits any person, firm or business establishment from offering to the public their services as a "pick-up station" or intermediary for the purpose of having prescriptions filled or delivered, whether for profit or gratuitously. It also prohibits the owner of any pharmacy or drug store from authorizing any person, firm or business establishment to act for them in that manner with certain exceptions. The bill defines applicable terms. The bill changes references to the term "maximum allowable cost rates" to "reimbursement amounts." 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. The bill passed 40 to 4.

-SB 1214, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Justin Wood, modifies language relating to the Not Guilty of Reason of Insanity plea and creating guilty with mental defect and not guilty by reason of mental illness pleas. The bill requires a plea of guilty with mental defect to result in a sentence that could be imposed by law upon a person who is convicted of the same offense. The measure requires a person found guilty with mental defect to be examined by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and provide a recommendation within 45 days. The bill replaces all references to insanity and insane with mental illness and mentally ill. The bill modifies and adds definitions. The bill passed 41 to 0. The measures now go to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

• The Senate heard several bills on Wednesday, including the following:

-SB 1388, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Doug Cox, allows the Grand River Dam Authority to make reasonable regulations governing, and in the interest of defraying costs associated with the maintenance and policing of public lands administered by the district, prescribe reasonable fees for camping and the use of district facilities, and for the use of off-road and all-terrain vehicles on district lands. The bill allows the GRDA to create reasonable fees for camping and the use of off-road and all-terrain vehicles in order to offset the cost of the maintenance and policing of public lands administrated by the district. The bill also terminates the Scenic Rivers Commission. It transfers all functions, duties, assets, debts, property and employees of the Scenic Rivers Commission to the Grand River Dam Authority on or before July 1, 2016. It also authorizes the GRDA to implement an annual fee for use of flotation devices as well as the ability to promulgate rules establishing licensing requirements for commercial float operators. It prohibits any person from holding an office under the laws of the state and no deputy of any officer so holding any office, during the person's term of office, from holding any other office or be the deputy of any officer holding any office, under the laws of the state. It provides for exemptions. It requires any salaries, emoluments or benefits that would otherwise be paid by the agency or political subdivision to a loaned employee or officer to instead be paid to the regular employer of such employee. The bill requires the loaned employee in turn to be paid regular salary and benefits the same as if continuing regular employment with the permanent employer. It provides powers, rights and privileges for districts in relation to waters of the Grand River. It designates certain rivers as scenic rivers for the purpose of preserving free-flowing streams and rivers in the state. It defines relevant terms used therein. It allows the Grand River Dam Authority, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Department of Wildlife Conservation to acquire, develop and maintain public access points, easements or park areas in or near scenic river areas. It provides certain prohibitions of listed materials and activities at scenic river areas, and concurrent punishments if violations are found for each. It provides for commercial floatation on scenic rivers. It repeals language relating to the Scenic Rivers Act. The Senate passed the bill and its emergency clause 37 to 8. It now goes to the governor for review.

• House amendments to the following bills were adopted by the Senate and now go to Governor Fallin for her signature or veto.

-SB 687, by Sen. Anthony Sykes and Rep. David Derby, creates the Massage Therapy Practice Act. The bill prohibits a person who is not a licensed massage therapist from: using the title of massage therapist; represent himself or herself to be a massage therapist; use any other title, words, abbreviations, letters, figures, signs or devices that indicate the person is a massage therapist; utilize the terms "massage", "massage therapy" or "massage therapist" when advertising or printing promotional material. The bill adds a scope of practice for individuals practicing massage therapy under this Act. It also grants the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering the authority to adopt and promulgate rules necessary to implement the Massage Therapy Practice Act. It authorizes the Board to perform investigations and establishes an Advisory Board of Massage Therapy to assist the board. The bill also establishes steps and fees for licensure. The bill also establishes disciplinary action against individuals who violate the provisions of the Act. The bill passed 34 to 6.

-SB 1071, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Katie Henke, 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. The bill passed 40 to 0.

-SB 1083, 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 1227, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Dennis Johnson, increases fees for handling and processing rejected warrant items processed by the State Treasurer from $1 to $5 per item. The bill passed 35-7 and now goes to the governor for her consideration.

• The Senate adopted two resolutions related to Correctional Officers Week:

-SR 62, by Sen. Eddie Fields, congratulates Bethany Wagener as the 2015-2016 Oklahoma Department of Corrections Employee of the Year.

-SR 63, by Sen. Larry Boggs, recognizes Correctional Officers week.

• House members Wednesday considered several bills, including the following:

-HB 2497, by Rep. Gary Banz and Sen. Jack Fry, requires the new Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs building be named the "Vezey Veterans Complex." The bill also modifies provisions to parcels of real property associated with the Lincoln Boulevard Renaissance Project in Oklahoma for which the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority is authorized to sell. Senate amendments were adopted after debate by a vote of 69 to 19. The bill was subsequently passed 77 to 10.

-HB 2757, by Rep. Dan Kirby and Sen. Ralph Shortey, prohibits court-ordered past-due child support payments, court-ordered payments of suit monies and judgments for support pursuant to Oklahoma Statutes entered beginning Nov. 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 bill passed 82 to 0.

-HR 1068, by Rep. Jeff Hickman, recognizes the Oklahoma Arts Institute for 40 years of
exceptional service.

• The House Conference Committee on Public Safety met Wednesday and is now available to electronically receive signatures before heading back to the House floor.

-HB 3098, by Rep. Jeff Coody and Sen. Nathan Dahm, allows constitutional open carry in the state of Oklahoma for legal residents 21 years or older who is not a convicted felon and is not involved in a crime. The bill removes the requirement to obtain a handgun license to open carry a handgun. It allows an individual to carry a firearm without being disarmed or restrained in the absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The bill also allows any person 21 years and older, except a convicted felon, to transport loaded pistols or handguns in a motor vehicle.

-HB 1714, by Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. Wayne Shaw, adds the operation of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance to the list of offenses in which one's driving privilege may be revoked. The bill states the first violation will result in a revocation of 30 days, the second for 60 days and the third for 90 days. It states those in violation of the Oklahoma Boating Safety Regulation Act may have their driving privileges revoked. The amended language states that if driving under the influence without a license, the individual is prohibited from obtaining a license for the first six months after the first conviction and one year after the second. The CCR also allows for the attainment of a modified license, rather than a complete revocation. It would allow the person to drive to and from school, work, place of worship, child's school or daycare facility and court-ordered treatment.

-HB 2249, by Rep. Brian Renegar and Sen. J.J. Dossett, makes it unlawful for any person to tear down, damage or remove any traffic-control devices or barricades or drive any vehicle through, under, over or around the traffic-control devices or barricades, or otherwise to enter the closed area when any highway or county road has been closed to traffic due to flooding and traffic-control devices or barricades have been erected. The bill makes the violation a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 or a fine of not less than 2,500 and imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year if the vehicle operator was transporting a person 18 years of age or younger at the time of the violation. It requires those convicted to be ordered to pay restitution in an amount equal to the actual costs of the emergency response and repair or replacement of any damaged or lost emergency equipment. It also makes the vehicle operator liable for any damage to property or injury or death caused by the violation. The CCR addressed the Senate's concerns regarding the increase of fines. Renegar said the amended language allows for fines up to $1,000 and up to $2,500, which adds the flexibility the Senate was looking for.

• Gov. Mary Fallin gave her approval to seven measures Wednesday afternoon.

-HB 2962, by Rep. Jason Nelson and Sen. AJ Griffin, requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in individuals less than nine years of age, or if an individual is not diagnosed or treated until after three years of age, and requires the coverage be provided for at least six years, provided that the individual continually and consistently shows sufficient progress and improvement as determined by the health care provider. The bill establishes requirements for the coverage. The bill requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service, the State Department of Health and the State Department of Education, to examine the feasibility of a state plan amendment to the Oklahoma Medicaid Program for applied behavior analysis treatment of autism spectrum disorders. It requires the authority and partnering agencies to submit a report on or before Dec. 31 to the Senate president pro tempore, House speaker and governor estimating the potential costs to the state, clinical findings, reviews of pilot projects and research from other states on the effects of applied behavioral analysis treatment on autism spectrum disorders. It requires the authority and partnering agencies to draft a state plan amendment for applied behavior analysis treatment of autism spectrum disorders beginning July 1, 2017, and subject to the availability of funding, only if the required report demonstrates applied behavioral analysis treatment to be evidence-based and essential to qualifying participants in the Oklahoma Medicaid Program. It exempts health benefit plans from the requirement that experience a greater than 1 percent increase in premium costs as a result of providing applied behavior analysis for treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The bill establishes a method for calculating changes in premium costs. It establishes procedures for obtaining the exemption. It subjects a health benefit plan to suspension or loss of license or any other penalty as determined by the Insurance Commissioner, or the State Commissioner of Health with regard to health maintenance organizations if, upon investigation, the commissioner finds that any statement of fact in the exemption request is found to be knowingly false. The bill takes effect Nov. 1.

-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, adds a July 1 effective date and an emergency clause. The bill takes effect July 1.

-SB 1036, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Jeff Coody, modifies the designating authority of individuals allowed to carry a handgun onto public school property from the board of education to the school district superintendent. The bill provides an exemption to the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, the names of individuals who have been designated to carry a firearm onto pubic school property. The bill takes effect July 1.

-SB 1069, by Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Lee Denney, requires the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to take any action necessary to assist the Office of Juvenile Affairs in operating charter schools. It also gives OMES the authority to exempt OJA from specific statues that are in conflict with the requirements for operating a charter school. The bill takes effect July 1.

-SB 1149, by Sen. AJ Griffin, and Rep. Doug Cox, allows a municipal governing body to engage in transactions to manage, lease or operate a medical facility outside the municipal limits to provide an economic benefit to the community or lessen the burden of government. It allows a Board of Control to undertake the management, lease or operation of any other medical facility or institution. The bill allows any trust created pursuant to the measure to engage in activities outside of the geographic boundaries of its beneficiary if the activity provides a benefit to a large class of the public within the beneficiary's geographic area or lessen burdens of government. The bill takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.

-SB 1200, by Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. John Jordan, modifies language relating to an adjudicated child in need of supervisions and who has violated a court order. The bill takes effect Nov. 1.

-SB 1318, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Leslie Osborn, allows the Oklahoma Tax Commission to revoke, suspend or deny registration or issuance of license plates. The bill removes language regarding assessed fees and mileage reporting. The bill establishes the area of authority for the Corporation Commission surrounding weight stations and ports of entry. The bill takes effect July 1.

• The House General Conference Committee on Appropriations met for this first time during this year’s session on Wednesday.

-HB 2929, by Rep. Jason Dunnington and Sen. Kyle Loveless, makes it unlawful for any employer with the state to willfully pay wages to women employees at a rate less than the rate at which he or she pays any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work on jobs which have comparable requirements relating to skill, effort and responsibility. It makes exceptions for a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earning by quantity or quality of production and a differential based on any factor other than sex. It increases the fines for violations of the provisions from no less than $25 to no more than $100 to no less than $50 to no more than $200 for each separate violation per pay period. The bill was extensively amended by Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, and removed what Dunnington said was the strongest piece of the bill. The amendment, he said, removed the "transparency language that would keep an employee from being fired if they discussed (their salaries.)" The amendment also removed language increasing fines that have not been increased for 65 years.

-HB 2803, by Rep. David Derby and Sen. A J Griffin, or the Medicaid Rebalancing Act of 2020 was also heard via an extensively amended CCR. The bill, also known as the Medicaid Rebalancing Act of 2020, increases the age from 23 to 26 and adds enrollment at a technology center as qualifying characteristics of the waiver the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is required to apply for to extend health care benefits. The CCR creates the Medicaid Rebalancing Act and defines necessary terms. The bill requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to limit Medicaid coverage not to exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty level for nondisabled children and pregnant women upon the expiration of the federal requirement. The bill also requires the Authority to maintain provider reimbursement as a funding priority and enroll uninsured Oklahomans between the ages of 19 and 64. It authorizes the Authority to create an individual Insure Oklahoma commercial insurance plan

-HB 1116, by Rep. Bobby Cleveland and Sen. Robert Standridge, authorizes the Department of Corrections to negotiate and enter a water purchase agreement and execute necessary easements with a public nonprofit rural water district organized under the Rural Water, Sewer, Gas and Solid Waste Management Districts Act for purposes of selling at cost groundwater found beneath real property owned by the department on which the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center and the Joseph Harp Correctional Center are located, and for granting permission to the department to amend the groundwater use permit from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to allow for use as a public water supply. The bill provides that the term of the water purchase agreement and easement cannot be for not less than forty 40 years from the first date of delivery of water and as long as the groundwater is being put to a beneficial use. The bill also clarifies that DOC will have a right of usage in any contract it enters into. The CCR allows the Department of Corrections to acquire, hold, lease and dispose of real and personal property.

Thursday, May 5, 2015

• The Senate met briefly on Thursday morning before adjourning for the weekend. Members passed the following bills:

-SB 946, by Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Pam Peterson, amends language related to the Department of Corrections exemptions to the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974. The bill 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 of Corrections. The measure passed 40-1.

-SB 1142 by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Sean Roberts, addresses license and permit requirements relating to the Feral Swine Control Act. The measure passed 40-0.

• The Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget met on Thursday morning and approved the following bills:

-SB 1578, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, limits the time period for allowing credit to be used for expenditures incurred by certain contractors. Passed by vote of 38-8.

-SB1579, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to enhance agency enforcement efforts for specified tax types. Passed with a vote of 34-2.

-SB 1580, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, modifies the amount of credits allocated annually for investment in affordable housing projects. Passed 30-6.

-SB 1581, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, limits the amount of credit for investment in clean-burning motor fuel equipment used annually and value of credit. Passed by vote of 37-0.

-SB 1582, by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears, limits the amount of credits allowed for investment in depreciable property or net increase in employees. Passed 36-0.

-HB 3204, by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, addresses railroad and rehabilitation tax credits. Approved 31-5.

-HB 3205, by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, changes the “look back” period on refund claims. Passed 38-0.

-HB 3206, by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, addresses the cash flow reserve fund and the associated reporting procedure. Passed 37-0.

Other News

• Rep. Charles McCall was elected Monday as the House Republican Caucus' speaker-designate for the 2017-18 legislative session. McCall, R-Atoka, is completing his second term in the Legislature. He could become the first Republican to serve a full two terms as House speaker since they claimed the majority in the House in 2004's election. McCall defeated House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chair Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. McCall chairs the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation. He was appointed to that post after serving as vice chair of the panel when it was chaired by the late Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, who passed away in April 2015. McCall's election will be reaffirmed in November when the House Republican Caucus meets with new members following the general election. If reaffirmed, he will then be nominated on the House floor in January when the Legislature holds its organizational day.

• The Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated an initiative petition Tuesday that would have called for a statewide vote of the people to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma filed the petition, which was challenged by the Oklahoma Grocers
Association. The grocers group alleged the petition would have unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority and was insufficient and misleading. The court ruled the petition's gist "does not fairly describe the proposed constitutional amendment and is invalid." Specifically, the seven-just majority wrote, "The petition makes significant changes to the liquor laws of this state;
however, certain changes are recognizably absent from the gist," the seven-justice majority wrote.

• Hundreds of caregivers, health care organizations, department heads, Medicaid recipients and their families gathered Tuesday on the steps of the State Capitol to demand that state government protect funding to Medicaid. Speakers at the "Medicaid Matters Rally" included Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White, Chief Executive Officer of the Health Care Authority Nico Gomez and Rep. Jon Echols. Both Lake and Gomez noted the potential cuts would have a domino effect on all areas of the health care industry because cuts to one area could result in an increased cost to another. Gomez said all health care agencies work hand-in-hand to care for the whole person, be it behaviorally, mentally or physically. He also spoke briefly about the Health Care Authority's multi-year plan to stabilize provider rates and insure 175,000 currently uninsured individuals.