The Oklahoma Senate


Week In Review
Monday, Mar. 20, to Thurs., Mar. 23, 2017


Monday, March 20, 2017

• On Monday, the Senate met and approved the following legislation:

-FC for SB 81, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Jadine Nollan, lowers the grade level to third from sixth at which point a student may be suspended for assaulting, attempting to cause physical bodily injury, or acting in a manner that could reasonably cause bodily injury to an education employee or a person who is volunteering for the school. It requires a school district to require a student guilty of violent acts to complete intervention and prevention programs provided by designated youth service agencies or a mental health provider contracted with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

-SB 165, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Glen Mulready, allows a sheriff to employ outside counsel to provide immediate representation in a deputy-involved shooting. It also prohibits the counsel's continued employment if the deputy involved is charged with any crime arising from the shooting. The bill and its emergency clause passed 44 to 1.

-SB 260, with title stricken, by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Charles Ortega, permits the use of dollars in the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund for county administrative expenses. The amendment also allows revenue from the County Bridge and Road Improvement Act to be used for county administrative expenses. The bill passed 43 to 1.

-SB 291, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Jon Echols, creates the Task Force for the Study of a Tax Credit Repurchase Program. It provides for task force membership as well as achieving a quorum for meetings, co-chairs and travel reimbursement. It defines the scope of the study. It subjects the task force to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act. It requires staff assistance for the task force to be provided by the staff of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. It requires the delivery of a final written report of its findings and any recommendations regarding the costs and benefits of the development of a tax credit repurchase program for the State of Oklahoma. It requires said report be submitted to the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than December 31, 2017. The bill passed 44 to 1.

-SB 359, with title and effective date restored, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, requires the governing board of a charter school to submit a request to the board of education of the school district to participate in a local bond election. It stipulates the items to be included in the request. The bill passed 28 to 16.

-SB 403, by Sen. David Holt and Rep. Elise Hall, modifies the methods by which public bodies must display notices for regularly scheduled meetings. It exempts weekends and holidays. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-SB 474, with title restored, by Sen. James Leewright and Rep. Chris Kannady, removes the penalty for dealers failing to comply with provisions relating to dealer license plates. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 527, with title stricken, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, increases the appropriation and contribution caps for county employees' retirement. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 563, with title restored, by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom and Rep. Jason Murphey, allows any school district, including a technology school district, to participate in, sponsor, conduct or administer a cooperative purchasing agreement for the acquisition of any commodities or services with one or more public agencies in accordance with an agreement entered into between the participants. It allows those cooperative purchasing agreements to include joint or multiparty contracts between public agencies and open-ended state public procurement contracts. The bill passed 40 to 3.

-SB 584, with title stricken, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Glen Mulready, decreases from seven to three years the length of time a governing body of a county is required to keep departmental records. The bill passed 43 to 1.

-SB 652, with title restored, by Sen. Anastasia Pittman and Rep. George Young, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to apply for grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the purposes of identifying health disparities related to sickle cell disease; assessing the utilization of therapies and strategies to prevent complications related to sickle cell disease; and other purposes permitted by federal laws and regulations. It requires the State Board of Health to promulgate necessary rules. The bill passed 26 to 18.

-SB 673, by Sen. Chris Kidd and Rep. Tim Downing, changes a reference to the Insurance Property and Casualty Rate Board to the Insurance Commissioner as it relates to the responsibility of the Attorney General to represent and protect the collective interests of insurance consumers in rate-related proceedings. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-SB 751, by Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Mark McBride, requires the State Fire Marshal to complete the plan review and permit process within a maximum of 45 days. It permits the Fire Marshall to outsource plan reviews or authorize the person applying for the building permit to submit the plans to an engineer or architect licensed in this state for review of code conformity in order to meet the time period for plan review. It requires conformity the Fire Marshall be notified and the permit issued upon a successful completion of the plan review and code. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 826, as amended, by Sen. Anastasia Pittman and Rep. Mark Lepak, creates a task force to research the consideration of creating a partnership between the Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma prison system and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in order to provide education opportunities for individual incarcerated offenders once they are released from prison. It provides for task force membership. It provides for meetings, achieving a quorum and subjects the task force to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act. It prohibits members from receiving compensation or travel reimbursement. It provides for staffing by the Senate. It requires a report by the task force be submitted to the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The amendment corrects language and makes no substantive changes. The bill passed 40 to 4.

-FS for SB 410, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Tommy Hardin, requires the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs be appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate.


• The House met on Monday and approved the following legislation:

-HB 1465, by Rep. Jon Echols, as amended and with title stricken, creates a provision allowing for biometric exemption to the Real ID Act. The bill passed on a vote of 73 to 20.

-HB 1198, by Rep. Tommy Hardin and Sen. Frank Simpson, with title stricken, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to create and maintain a registry of all veterans in the state. It specifies what information is to be included on the registry. The bill requires a Department of Public Safety employee to check the registry before issuing a driver license or identification card to those requesting to be identified as veterans. The bill passed on a vote of 90 to 0.

-HB 1334, by Rep. Chuck Hoskin and Sen. John Sparks, allows the board of education of any school district to transfer title to unimproved real property to a municipal or other local housing authority in order for such housing authority to construct single family dwellings or multifamily dwellings on such real property. The bill passed on a vote of 78 to 14.

-HB 1381, by Rep. Carol Bush, permits municipalities to require the registration of dilapidated and abandoned buildings after the municipality provides notice and hearing during the abatement process. The bill passed on a vote of 69 to 20.

-HB 1444, by Rep. Dustin Roberts and Sen. Ron Sharp, designates Good Friday and the Friday before Easter as state holidays. The bill passed on a vote of 69 to 24.

-HB 1468, by Rep. Carol Bush and Sen. David Holt, as amended, creates the Hidden Predator Act. The bill modifies the time limitations for prosecuting criminal offenses for sexual crimes against children, specifically. The bill modifies the definition of discovery and provides that any person who knowingly and willfully makes a false claim a claim that the person knows lacks factual foundation may be reported to local law enforcement for criminal investigation and, upon conviction, will be guilty of a felony. It adds that if the defendant is acquitted, the costs, including the fees of all witnesses whom the trial judge certified to have been proper for the defense and prosecution, will be paid by the prosecuting witness, whenever the trial judge is of the opinion that there were no reasonable grounds for the prosecution or that the prosecution was not required in the interests of the public. The amendment re-imposes the statute of limitations for prosecuting criminal offenses for sexual crimes against adults. The bill, as amended, passed on a vote of 92 to 0.

-HB 1470, by Rep. Carol Bush and Sen. David Holt, as amended, removes the time limitations for civil actions based on childhood sexual abuse incidents and allows an action to commence by the forty-fifth birthday of the alleged victim. The bill establishes a new time limitation for civil actions and removes language related to evidentiary and discovery requirements. The bill adds that any party bringing an action against an individual in which the defendant is ultimately found not liable for the complaint will be subject to treble damages if and when the defendant pursues a counterclaim and receives a compensatory or punitive judgment. It requires damages against legal entities to be awarded only if there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the legal entity. The amendment requires action be brought against such an employer or legal entity within two years. The bill, as amended, passed on a vote of 92 to 0.

-HB 1551, by Rep. George Faught and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, as amended, prohibits the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners for Long-Term Care Administrators from requiring completion of a four-year degree for licensing or certification requirements for nursing facility administrators if such individuals possess 10 years of experience at a nursing facility. The amendment clarifies what constitutes as 10 years of experience. The bill passed on a vote of 57 to 35.

-HB 1721, by Rep. Greg Babinec and Sen. Kyle Loveless, modifies various definitions under the Bus Passenger Safety Act and updates statutory language related to fines and penalties. It removes language prohibiting an individual from boarding a bus with a dangerous or deadly weapon concealed. It allows a person to discharge a firearm into or within any bus if the action is determined to have been in defensive force resulting from reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm. The bill passed on a vote of 75 to 8.

-HB 2311, by Rep. Charles McCall, creates the Agency Spending Review Act and the Agency Spending Review Commission. It provides for appointments to the commission. It requires the Legislative Services Bureau to provide staff and administrative support. It requires the commission to conduct an audit of the spending of government agencies in order to identify opportunities for savings at least once every four years. It requires the commission to issue a report on the status of implementation of these recommendations. It allows the commission to contract with a private company, nonprofit or academic institution to assist with the spending audits. It provides for bids and their acceptance. It provides for information to be collected and included in said report. The bill passed by a vote of 64 to 24.

-HB 2191, as amended, by Rep. Cory Williams, requires a person driving a motor vehicle on a multi-land road with two or more lanes designated for travel in each direction to exercise due care by moving completely over to the adjacent lane until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction. It provides the same requirements for two-lane roads with one lane designated for travel in each direction, providing for a distance of five feet. It modifies circumstances in which a provided fine is applicable. The amendment reduces the amount of the fine from $10,000 to $5,000. The bill passed by a vote of 53 to 33.

-HB 1163, by Rep. Steven Vaughan and Sen. Frank Simpson, modifies the criteria upon which the annual retirement pay provided by the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System is based to include the top base salary currently paid to the highest nonsupervisory position in the participating agency. It allows the Board of Trustees for the System to waive the requirement that the disability application be filed before the member's date of termination from service if good cause is shown. It prohibits members from being eligible to receive any disability benefit if the member's completed application is filed more than six months after the member's date of termination from service. The bill and its emergency passed 84 to 0.

-HB 1312, by Rep. Collin Walke and Sen. Adam Pugh, creates a credit against income tax for incurred daycare expenses for children of deployed military service members. It prohibits the credit authorized from being used to reduce the tax liability of the taxpayer to less than zero. The bill passed by a vote of 89 to 0.

-HB 1341, with title stricken, by Rep. Rande Worthen, prohibits the access of listed records through the internet. The bill passed 78 to 5.

-HB 1384, by Rep. Carol Bush and Sen. Dave Rader, requires all state agencies to provide debriefing and counseling services for employees who are affected by violent or involved in, witness or are otherwise exposed to traumatic events. It corrects a reference to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The bill passed 87 to 0.

-HB 1448, by Rep. Dustin Roberts and Sen. A J Griffin, requires chiropractic license applicants for an original license to submit to a national criminal history record check and pay the costs associated with the check. The bill passed 86 to 0.

-HB 1531, with title stricken, by Rep. John Michael Montgomery and Sen. Lonnie Paxton, creates the Unclaimed Property Endowment Trust Fund in the State Treasury. It provides the fund's purpose. It establishes the Board of Investors of the Unclaimed Property Endowment Trust Fund and provides for board membership. It requires the board to make specified annual certification and report amount subject to provisions therein. It provides procedures by which to transfer funds. The bill passed by a vote of 86 to 4.

-HB 1540, by Rep. Emily Virgin and Sen. Stephanie Bice, authorizes a winemaker licensee to sell wine produced at a winery from grapes and other fruits grown in Oklahoma for either on or off-premises consumption. It eliminates the Direct Wine Consumer's Permit. The change in the substitute allows Oklahoma wineries to ship their products within the state, but keeps the restriction on shipping for out-of-state wineries. The bill passed by a vote of 80 to 8.

-HB 1577, by Rep. Chad Caldwell and Sen. Gary Stanislawski, requires the State Department of
Education to include on its website an itemized accounting of all vacant or unused properties owned, leased or under the control of a school district. The bill passed by a vote of 51 to 36. The emergency clause failed 34 to 28.

-HB 1622, by Rep. Michael Rogers, requires a school district to notify a teacher if a school district
intends to provide retirement benefits to a teacher such that the teacher's salary would be less than the minimum salary schedule. The bill passed 87 to 0.

-HB 1669, by Rep. Todd Thomsen, authorizes the use of cannabidiol for treatment of Parkinson's Disease. The bill passed by a vote of 88 to 8.

-HB 1696, by Rep. Scott Martin and Sen. Rob Standridge, allows the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to sell land in Block 5 of Culbertson Heights in Oklahoma County and Range 2 West in Cleveland County. The bill passed by a vote of 86 to 8.

-HB 1706, as amended, by Rep. Randy McDaniel and Sen. Marty Quinn, ensures the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System remains in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service by allowing the agency to roll money from its system to an IRA. The bill and its emergency clause passed 87 to 0. The amendment strikes a comma.

-HB 1810, as amended, by Rep. Ben Loring and Sen. Marty Quinn, declares taking an audio or video recording of or listening in by any means, electronic or otherwise, to an executive session without authorization from the public body and disseminating information learned or discussed during an executive session that, due to its nature, should remain undisclosed to be in violation of the Open Meetings Act. It allows a public body to record the proceedings of an executive session to confidentially preserve the minutes. It prohibits any individuals from recording the proceedings other than the public body. It further includes violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act. The bill passed by a vote of 78 to 17.

-HB 1912, by Rep. Roger Ford, modifies the provisions of receiving a disinterment permit. It requires the permit to be had before disinterment and reinternment of a dead body or fetus. It requires the application for a disinterment to include consent from the next of kin; other than the case of a medical legal in which the State Medical Examiner still retains his or her rights. It also accounts for a judge's order for said remains. It removes the rights of cemeteries to disapprove a disinterment. The bill excludes permits from being required for fetuses which will be disinterred and reinterred in the same cemetery. It requires forms to be obtained from the State Registrar of Vital Records. The bill passed by a vote of 87 to 3.

-HB 1942, by Rep. John Jordan, requires all state agencies to include their financial reporting a description of the amount of federal funding received for any program the agency participates in, the requirements of the program and the amount of expenditures spent to meet the requirements of the program. The bill passed by a vote of 65 to 23.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

• The Senate met on Tuesday to hear several bills and approved the following:

-FS for SB 603, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, modifies language related to the requirement that the Department of Corrections administer a needs and risk assessment for offenders. It requires the assessment include mental health and substance abuse screens. It exempts for any inmate who had a risk and needs assessment administered by personnel certified by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services within six months of being sentenced to the custody of the Department of Corrections. It requires the department to develop an individualized case plan based on the results of the assessment to guide an inmate's rehabilitation while in the Department's custody in order to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. It establishes requirements for the case plan. The bill passed 42 to 0.

-SB 604, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, expands provisions of CLEET courses relating to domestic violence and stalking to include information on personal safety planning necessary at the pretrial stages of a potential criminal case. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-FS for SB 609, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, requires the Attorney General to adopt and promulgate rules to create a voluntary certification program for victim assistance professionals based on guidelines from the National Advocate Credentialing Program Consortium. It permits the certification guidelines to include annual attendance by victim assistance professionals at victim-centered and trauma-informed training based on guidance from national, state and Tribal victim assistance organizations. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-FS for SB 649, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, prohibits a previous conviction for possession of a controlled dangerous substance or the equivalent law for possession of a controlled dangerous substance from any other jurisdiction may not be used to enhance certain punishments. It also establishes certain sentencing requirements. The bill modifies certain references. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 650, with title stricken, by Sen. Wayne Shaw and Rep. Ben Loring, modifies availability for persons authorized to file a motion for expungement by minimizing time limits for those convicted of a nonviolent felony offense from in the last 15 years to seven. It allows the petition to be made five years after the felony conviction has passed. It modifies the time period for those convicted of violent crimes from 20 years to 10 years after the conviction has passed. The bill passed 45 to 0.

-FS for SB 689, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, makes an offender sentenced to life without parole for an offense other than a violent crime who has served at least 10 years of the sentence in the custody of the Department of Corrections eligible for a modification of the sentence by the judge who originally imposed the sentence or revocation of probation or, if the sentencing judge is unavailable, another judge in the judicial district in which the sentence was rendered. It permits the court to modify the sentence upon a finding that the best interests of the public will not be jeopardized. It moves the requirement for the implementation of procedures and rules for methods of establishing payment plans of fines, costs, fees, and assessments by indigents from the Court of Criminal Appeals to the Supreme Court. It requires they be based on income. It requires court to waive outstanding fines, court costs and fees if the offender has secured admission to and is enrolled in a state higher education institution, a technology center school or a workforce training program intended to expand further employment opportunities based on the equivalent value of the potential gross income of the offender as established by the minimum wage rate of the state upon the offender's completion of each 40- hour work week. The bill passed 42 to 3.

-SB 786, by Sen. Greg Treat, Rep. Ben Loring, and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, provides that every person who breaks and enters on any commercial or residential property or any room, booth, tent, railroad car, automobile, truck, trailer or vessel of another, in which any property is kept, with intent to steal any property therein or to commit any felony, is guilty of burglary in the third degree. The bill establishes a penalty for burglary in the third degree. The bill passed 26 to 19.

-SB 793, with title stricken, by Sen. Greg Treat, creates the Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force and provides for membership. The bill tasks the committee with tracking implementation and assessing outcomes from the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force report of January 2017. It directs the task force to prepare and submit an annual report no later than the first day of the second full week of each regular session of the Legislature on outcomes and performance measures to the Legislature, Governor and Presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. It specifies the contents of the report. It requires the Oversight Task Force to use clerical and professional employees of the Department of Corrections. The bill encourages the task force to apply for and may expend grants, gifts or federal funds it receives from other sources to carry out its duties and responsibilities. The bill also directs DOC to collect specified information on certain crimes. The bill passed 45 to 0.

-SB 38, with title restored, by Sen. Roger Thompson and Rep. Kevin Wallace, increases the Forensic Science Improvement Assessment to $10 from $5. The bill passed 26 to 19.

-SB 303, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Scott Biggs, authorizes the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to submit fingerprints to the FBI Rap Back System to be retained in the FBI Rap Back System for the purpose of being searched by future submissions to the FBI Rap Back System, including latent fingerprint searches. The bill passed 32 to 13.

-FS for SB 247, by Sen. Kevin Matthews, Sen. Roger Thompson and Rep. Monroe Nichols IV, grants the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations the power to investigate all law enforcement- or peace officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, not including those that occur in jails or prisons, for all jurisdictions within the state with a population of less than 150,000. It requires all law enforcement or peace officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, not involving jails or prisons that occur within jurisdictions in the state with a population of more than 150,000 be subject to review by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at the discretion of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The bill exempts law enforcement- or peace officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths that involve the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. It establishes certain reporting requirements.

-SJR 43, by Sen. Anthony Sykes and Rep. Jon Echols, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would change the way judges are appointed. It would require the Governor to submit names to the Judicial Nominating Commission for rating. It also would require advice and consent of the Senate for nominations. It passed 37 to 8.

-SJR 44, also by Sen. Anthony Sykes and Rep. Jon Echols, proposes a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment that would require Senate advice and consent for the appointment of judges. It would permit the Governor to call the Legislature into special session to consider judicial appointments once per quarter. It passed 38 to 7.

-SB 213, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Tim Downing, requires five Supreme Court Judicial districts and boundaries to correspond to Oklahoma's congressional districts. It requires the number of corresponding Supreme Court Judicial Districts to increase or decrease accordingly in the event Oklahoma gains or loses a congressional district. It requires four Supreme Court Judicial Districts to be statewide at-large districts. It requires said at-large districts increase or decrease accordingly if the state gains or loses a Supreme Court Judicial District that corresponds to the number of congressional districts. The bill passed 44 to 1.

-SB 211, by Sen. Stephanie Bice and Rep. Glen Mulready, requires all sales of alcoholic beverages on Sundays by retail spirits licensees be unlawful in any county unless approved by a majority of the registered voters of the county voting at a special election called by the board of county commissioners. The bill requires the election be called by the board of county commissioners upon receipt of a petition signed by registered voters constituting not less than 15 percent of the total votes cast in the county in the last General Election for the Office of Governor, or the election may be called by the board of county commissioners upon its own motion. It allows for counties to opt to sales between the hours of noon and midnight on Sunday. The bill passed 29 to 13.

-SB 232, with title, effective date and emergency clause restored, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Tommy Hardin, consolidates the State Accrediting Agency with the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill transfers all assets, funds, liabilities, allotments, purchase orders, outstanding financial obligations, encumbrances, records, equipment and other property of the State Accrediting Agency to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill transfers all personnel to the ODVA beginning July 1 and establishes procedures for the transfer. The bill and its emergency clause passed 44 to 0.

-SB 411, by Sen. Stephanie Bice and Rep. Glen Mulready, modifies the hours during which alcoholic beverages may be sold, limiting the sales and sampling of beer at a brewery to only occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. It modifies the times in which holders of a Retail Wine License or Retail Beer License or retail licensee may buy alcoholic beverages. The bill passed 36 to 7.

-SB 486, by Sen. Stephanie Bice and Rep. Glen Mulready, requires the excise tax levied on low-point beer to be due on or before the twentieth day of each month and requires tax payers to file electronically with the Tax Commission showing the total sales of such beverages during the preceding calendar month. It modifies the provisions of a brewer license, distiller license, winemaker license, winemaker self-distribution license, rectifier license, wholesaler license. It modifies the allowable duties of a wholesaler. It modifies the provisions of a Class B wholesaler license, package store license, mixed beverage license, bottle club license, caterer license, and all licenses dealing with the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages. It repeals duplicate sections and certain effective dates. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 543, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to construct, establish, administer, operate, and maintain a State Veterans' Cemetery System. It requires the system to consist of one or more cemeteries to serve veterans, spouses and eligible dependents of veterans of the State of Oklahoma. The bill passed 44 to 0.

-SB 752, by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, changes human sperm, tissue or organ to reproductive tissue that cannot be procured for donation purposes from any person testing positive for the human immunodeficiency virus infection. It permits organ and tissue to be procured for donation purposes from any person testing positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection when such procurement and donation are consistent with the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act (P.L. 113-51, 127 Stat. 579 (2013)) and the promulgated regulations of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the United States Food and Drug Administration. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-FS for SB 6, by Sen. Josh Brecheen and Rep. Jeff Coody, permits the following officials to carry a firearm anywhere in the State of Oklahoma in the performance of their officials duties if the person has successfully completed a handgun qualification course pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self Defense Act: the Governor; Lieutenant Governor; State Auditor and Inspector; Secretary of State; Attorney General; State Treasurer; Superintendent of Public Instruction; Commissioner of Labor; Corporation Commissioners; and U.S. House and U.S. Senate members
from Oklahoma. The bill passed 39 to 4.

-SB 544, by Sen. Frank Simpson, authorizes and directs ODVA to relocate the Oklahoma Veterans Center at Talihina to a new location eligible for approval or recognition by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as a State Veterans' Home. It states legislative intent, ensuring the new location be constructed within 40 miles of the current location and within the city limits of a municipality. It authorizes and directs the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to proceed with the development of a new facility to assume the operations of the Oklahoma Veterans Center presently located in Talihina subject only to such geographical constraints as may be imposed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill then passed 34 to 7.


• The House passed the following bills on Tuesday:

-HB 1549, by Rep. George Faught and Sen. Nathan Dahm, creates the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017. The bill defines terms. It prohibits any person from intentionally performing an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality or the potential for either. It prescribes a violation and accompanying fees or punishments for physicians or other persons found in violation of the provisions therein. It allows minors to commence civil action for any knowing or reckless violation of said provisions. It provides for damages in such cases. It requires that the anonymity of any female upon an abortion is performed or attempted by preserved until consent is provided. It exempts any woman upon whom an abortion in violation is performed or attempted. It affords such women all rights, protections and notifications afforded to crime victims under the Oklahoma Victim's Rights Act. It provides for construction and severability. The bill passed on a vote of 67 to 16.

-HB 1690, by Rep. Casey Murdock and Sen. James Leewright, with title stricken, requires the 20 top appropriated agencies to be audited in an independent comprehensive performance audit invested in by the Legislative Service Bureau. It requires the audit to fulfill certain mandates. It allows the Bureau to contract with an outside firm or the State Auditor and Inspector's Office. It requires the audit to be conducted when the agency head leaves the agency and requires the report to be given to certain members of the Legislature. The bill passed on a vote of 70 to 25.

-HB1987, by Rep. John Jordan, allows a defendant to file an application for an evidentiary hearing if he or she intends to raise the question of involuntary intoxication at the time of the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance. It requires the application to be filed no later than 30 days after the formal arraignment. The bill passed on a vote of 89 to 2. The bill's emergency passed on a vote of 79 to 3.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

• The Senate met on Wednesday and approved the following bills, including several education measures:

-FS for SB 618, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Leslie Osborn, modifies the minimum salary schedule for teachers. It increases teachers' salaries 4 percent for the 2017-2018 school year and an additional 4 percent for the 2018-2019 school year.

-SB 70, with title stricken, by Sen. Julie Daniels and Rep. Earl Sears, requires the State Auditor and Inspector to perform an independent, comprehensive performance audit on the State Department of Education during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017. It gives the auditor and inspector the power to take custody of any records necessary to the performance of the audit but requires him to minimize actual physical removal of or denial of access to such records. It requires the auditor and inspector at the conclusion of the audit to meet with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education to review the audit report to be issued. It requires the report when issued to include any responses to the audit which the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or the State Board of Education wishes to have included. It requires the State Auditor and Inspector to file the report with the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It requires the State Board of Education to post the completed report to its website. The bill passed 28 to 11.

-SB 72, with title stricken, by Sen. Julie Daniels, Sen. Kyle Loveless and Rep. Earl Sears, requires the State Auditor and Inspector to perform an independent, comprehensive performance audit on the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017. It gives the auditor and inspector the power to take custody of any records necessary to the performance of the audit but requires him to minimize actual physical removal of or denial of access to such records. It requires the auditor and inspector at the conclusion of the audit to meet with the director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education to review the audit report to be issued. It requires the report when issued to include any responses to the audit which the director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education wishes to have included. It requires the State Auditor and Inspector to file the report with the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It requires the State Board of Education to post the completed report to its website. The bill passed 28 to 10.

-FS for SB 84, by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom and Rep. Katie Henke, adds the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years to the years that each school district is required to report the number of students who did not pass the reading sufficiency test and was promoted to a subsequent grade. The bill also modifies the requirements for the Reading Report Card. The bill and its emergency clause passed 39 to 1.

-SB 243, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Chuck Strohm, requires a monthly financial report be submitted at each regular meeting of a school district board of education meeting. It directs the financial report to include a report prepared by the local treasurer in writing with details of the conditions of the finances of the district including investments and a report of revenues and expenditures by fund for the most recent completed month for which records are available. The bill also requires the report include encumbrances and related change orders. It directs the report be posted on the website of the school district within 30 days of being submitted to the board. The bill and its emergency clause passed 42 to 0.

-SB 261, with title, effective date and emergency clause restored, by Sen. Eddie Fields and Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, establishes a task force until December 31, 2017 to study and make recommendations to the Legislature on improving the State Aid formula. It directs the task force's study to include but not be limited to the grade level weights, the student category weights and the transportation factor of the State Aid formula. The bill establishes membership and directs the meetings to be subject to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act. It prohibits members of the task force from receiving compensation or travel reimbursement and directs the State Department of Education to provide staff support. The bill directs the task force to submit a report to the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairs of the education committees of each chamber. The bill and its emergency clause passed 42 to 0.

-FS for SB 244, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. John Jordan, requires each virtual charter school to keep a full and complete record of the attendance of all students enrolled in the virtual charter school. It requires the governing body of each virtual charter school to adopt by July 1, 2017, an attendance policy. The bill specifies the requirements of the attendance policy. It defines "instructional activities." It requires the virtual charter school to submit a report to the parent or legal guardian of a student who has accumulated 10 absences. The bill and its emergency clause passed 41 to 0.

-SB 389, as amended, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Michael Rogers, modifies review requirements for the State Aid formula. It requires State Board of Education to review the pupil grade level weights, district weights and pupil category weights and to make recommendations for revisions to the Governor, House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore on or before Sept. 30, 2018, and at least once each five years thereafter. It removes an outdated reference to the Special Joint Committee on School Finance and requires the board to seek input from experts in the field of education finance. It removes the requirement that the board review that part of the State Aid formula which provides for a midterm supplement in State Aid to school districts. The amendment changed the date by which the department must submit the report. Stanislawski said the department indicated it would need the additional time to complete a comprehensive study. The bill and its emergency clause passed 41 to 0.

-SB 393, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, creates the Oklahoma Science Education Act. It requires the State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals to endeavor to create an environment within public school districts that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues and to endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. It requires teachers be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught. It prohibits the State Board of Education, any school district board of education, school district superintendent or school principal from prohibiting any teacher in a public school district from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught. It provides the language protects only the teaching of scientific information and states it cannot be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion. It requires the State Department of Education by no later than the start of the 2017-2018 school year to notify school district boards of education and school district superintendents of public schools in the state of the bill's provisions and for each school district board of education and school district superintendent to notify all employees within the school district of its provisions. The bill passed 34 to 10.

-SB 428, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Katie Henke, allows members who retired as active classroom teachers to be eligible to be re-employed as an active classroom teacher with no limitations on earnings for a period of three years beginning July 1, 2017. The bill and its emergency clause passed 43 to 0.

-SB 445, by Sen. Joe Newhouse and Rep. Kevin Calvey, modifies the manner in which cap on annual credits is allocated and calculated for the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act. The bill passed 41 to 2.

-SB 450, by Sen. Mark Allen and Rep. John R. Bennett, creates the Religious Viewpoints
Antidiscrimination Act. It prohibits a school district from discriminating against a student for the voluntary expression of a student's religious viewpoint. The bill allows students to express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content. The bill passed 41 to 3 and its emergency clause passed 42 to 2.

-SB 529, by Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Katie Henke, modifies the qualifications and criteria required for students to participate in the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program. It requires an award for eligible Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program students enrolled in a postsecondary vocational-technical program offered by a technology center school that meets the requirements to be eligible for federal student financial aid be satisfied for both vocational-technical and college work in which enrolled. It expands to the scope of student ineligible for the program with parents that meet updated income requirements. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-FS for SB 632, by Sen. Ron Sharp, creates the Education Compact for Students in State Care Act and establishes an advisory committee. The bill requires the Committee to facilitate the transfer and/or enrollment of a student placed in state care to ensure timely delivery of records. It allows a receiving school district to request the student's permanent records from the sending school district. The bill allows the transfer student who has been placed in state care 30 days to obtain required immunizations. The bill requires the school district to consider the student's eligibility for placement in gifted and talented programs, an English learner program, extracurricular activities and courses offered by a technology center school. The bill allows the school district to waive any applicable graduation requirements. The bill passed 43 to 0.

SB 25, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Kevin McDugle, removes the prohibition on fireworks being sold or displayed to the public within any building or portion of a building or any vehicle that allows entry by any persons other than employees unless the fireworks are kept where they cannot be reached or handled by those persons. The bill passed 38 to 5.

-FS for SB 745, by Sen. Ervin Yen, permits a statewide investigational new drug application to be established in, if approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, to conduct clinical trials using marihuana exclusively for qualifying patients with neuropathic pain; persistent muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia; nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy; loss of weight or appetite due to cancer or HIV/AIDS; or chronic pain when other treatments have failed. The measure would allow a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of medical marihuana for four specific diseases. The bill passed 28 to 13 with no further discussion.

-SB 353, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Lewis Moore, exempts the National Guard Association of Oklahoma from sales tax. The bill passed 42 to 0.

-SB 363, by Sen. David Holt, Rep. Bobby Cleveland and Rep. Terry O'Donnell, allows a person not eligible for pretrial release to be released upon order of a special judge under conditions prescribed by the judge. The bill passed 42 to 0.

-SB 532, by Sen. John Sparks, requires state agencies to provide debriefing and counseling services for state employees involved in or exposed to violent or traumatic events in the workplace. It requires the treatment be optional and paid administrative leave be provided. It requires the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services promulgate rules. The bill passed 30 to 12.

-SB 690, with title, effective date and emergency clause restored, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Lewis Moore, requires the State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma Military Department, and schools of social work in this state to develop a Guard Advocacy Program (GAP) for Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen that will include curricula designed to facilitate and improve access to community resources that improve health; increase social support; increase productivity; and prevent life-skills and life-crisis issues from developing into behavioral health emergencies. It requires the State Regents, the Adjutant General and the State Board of Licensed Social Workers to necessary rules.

-SB 712, by Sen. Stephanie Bice and Rep. Glen Mulready, permits spirits to be stored, possessed or consumed on the licensed premises of an on-premises beer and wine license when the premises also has a mixed beverage license. The bill passed 42 to 2.

-SB 725, by Sen. A J Griffin and Rep. Chad Caldwell, requires each school district to report the number and type of exemptions from vaccinations to the State Department of Health on or before July 1st of each year and to include information from the most recently completed school year. It requires the State Department of Education and the State Department of Health to promulgate necessary rules. The bill passed 27 to 13.

-FS for SB 217, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies the reporting procedures in relation to information required for sex offender registration. It requires a court to order the offender to report to the local law enforcement authority in the municipality or county in which the offender resides and to report to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections probation and parole office in the district in which the offender resides. It requires the court clerk to transmit listed information to the Sex and Violent Offenders Registration Unit of the Department of Corrections within three business days after the judgment and sentence. The bill passed 41 to 0.

-SB 284, as amended, by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Charles McCall, creates the Oklahoma Energy Jobs Act of 2017. It modifies certain definitions and defines new terms. It removes the limitation on the use of long lateral, also known as extended lateral, lines shale formations and permits their use in any targeted geologic formation.

-SB 297, as amended and with title restored, by Sen Stephanie Bice and Rep. Glen Mulready, modifies acts authorized by a small farm winery license to now include: serving free samples of wine produced by the licensee to visitors 21 years or older; selling wine produced by said small farm winery for either on-premises consumption or off-premises to consumer on that winery's premises; and to sell wine at public events. It prohibits any visitor from sampling more than a total of six fluid ounces of wine per day. It requires a small farm winery to restrict the distribution and consumption of wine samples to an area within the licensed premises designated by the small farm winery. It requires a current floor plan that includes the designated sampling area to be on file with the ABLE Commission. It prohibits any visitor less than 21 years of age from being permitted to enter the designated sampling area when samples are being distributed or consumed. The bill passed 25 to 16.

-FS for SB 643, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Scott Biggs, creates the Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 with the purpose of offering an accelerated process to hold impaired drivers immediately accountable through the restriction of driving privileges. It requires the Department of Public Safety to establish the Impaired Driver Accountability Program. It requires the Department to set eligibility requirements and consequences for violation.

-FS for SB 661, with title stricken, by Sen. John Sparks and Rep. Chris Kannady, increases the maximum amount of claims that may be pursued in small claims court from $7,500 to $10,000. It also permits the court, upon application supported by sufficient documentation, to award attorney fees not to exceed 25 percent of the judgment. It establishes separate procedures for the transfer of claims from small claims court to other courts for claims less than $7,500 and for claims more than $10,000. The bill passed 40 to 0.


• The House met Wednesday and debating several bills, and passing the following:

-HB1401, by Rep. John Michael Montgomery and Sen. David Holt, creates the Oklahoma Legacy Act and creates the Oklahoma Legacy Fund. It provides for collection, apportionment and deposit of monies into the fund and provides for investment and reinvestment of funds. The bill creates the Common Schools Legacy Fund. It provides for collection, apportionment and deposit of monies into the fund. It provides for investment and reinvestment of funds. The bill creates a subfund of the Oklahoma Legacy Fund designated as the Higher Education Legacy Fund. It requires the State Auditor and Inspector to conduct an audit of each fund every two years. It requires the gross production tax revenues provided therein be levied and be collected and apportioned for specific purposes. The bill passed by a vote of 65 to 22.

-HB 1161, with title stricken, by Rep. Michael Rogers, modifies the requirements of a policy evaluation and professional development adopted by a board of education of a school district. The bill allows a school district board to adopt additional components and procedures in addition to the mandated components. The bill removes the mandate the every career teacher be evaluated every three years and allows evaluation at the discretion of the school district, provided that every career teacher participate in an annual or biannual profession growth plan review. It allows the board to establish a remediation plan for teachers who receive a rating below the acceptable level of performance. The bill allows the dismissal of a teacher who has engaged in sexual activity or sexual misconduct that has impeded the effectiveness of the individual's performance of school duties. The bill passed by a vote of 82 to 1.

-HB 1605, as amended, by Rep. John Enns and Sen. Roland Pederson, creates the Debra Reed and Amanda Carson Act. The bill requires those convicted of consuming alcohol while driving to abstain from such by court order for a period determined by the court. It requires a notation of the restriction be affixed to such a person's driver's license. It provides for the removal of such a restriction and procedures by which the court may take for those found in violation. The bill deems the selling, furnishing or granting of alcoholic beverages to a person ordered to abstain or refrain from doing so to be a felony punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. The bill requires any person under the age of 21 convicted of an offense described therein have their driving privileges revoked or denied by the Department of Public Safety until the person attains 21 years of age. It allows such a period to be modified. The bill passed by a vote of 82 to 6.

-HB 2001, by Rep. Rick West and Sen. Mark Allen, with title stricken, exempts a person holding a lifetime hunting license and others exempt from the hunting license fee from being required to purchase attach a tag to a killed bear. The bill passed on a vote of 59 to 31.

-HB1270, by Rep. Elise Hall, as amended and with title stricken, creates the Act to Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone. It requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to verify eligibility information prior to awarding assistance under Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It allows the information to include, but not limited to, earned and unearned income, employment status and changes in employment, immigration status, residency status, enrollment in other assistance programs, financial resources, incarceration status, death records and information relating to identity fraud and theft. The bill passed on a vote of 63 to 25.

-HB 1302, by Rep. Casey Murdock and Sen. Stephanie Bice, with title stricken, ensures no special event license or charitable alcoholic beverage event license for alcoholic beverages be required for an organization, association or nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to promote the common interest of economic development and business growth within a community, provided said event is not conducted primarily for fundraising purposes and services of a licensed caterer are used to provide and distribute said beverages at the event in question. The bill passed on a vote of 79 to 7.

-HB 1357, by Rep. Regina Goodwin and Sen A J Griffin, creates the Oklahoma Caregiver Support Act. It requires the Department of Human Services to work with caregiver community groups across the state in a cost-neutral manner using existing resources for outlined purposes. It also requires the Department of Human Service to work alongside said groups in such a manner to support the awareness certain information related to caregivers. The bill passed on a vote of 78 to 6.

HB1798, by Rep. Sean Roberts and Sen. Josh Brecheen, as amended, allows any person with permission of the private property owner or primary operator of land to remove feral swine from private property during the day or night. It requires that a person removing said swine not be required to obtain a license or permit to hunt or control wildlife issued by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. It allows the use of a motor-driven land conveyance to pursue or follow feral swine as well as a vehicle mounted spotlight or night-vision equipment. It allows any person removing swine from public property during daylight hours to do so without a license or permit issued by the Department, except during deer season. It modifies definitions used therein. It repeals language related to the Feral Swine Act. The amendment requires the Department promulgate rules regarding to public land. The bill passed on a vote of 69 to 26.

-HB1868, by Rep. Jason Dunnington and Sen. Roger Thompson, requires any state employee earning less than $30,000 annually to receive overtime pay, instead of compensatory time, for all hours worked over 40 hours a week beginning November 1, 2017. It requires any state employee earning less than $35,000 annually to also receive overtime pay, instead of compensatory time, for all hours worked over 40 hours a week beginning January 1, 2018 and all employees earning $40,000 annually will also receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 hours a week beginning January 1, 2019. The bill passed on a vote of 64 to 20.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

• On Thursday the Senate met and finished up the week’s work before adjourning for the weekend. Members approved the following bills:

-SB 46, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. John Jordan, extends the sunset date for the
Public Employees Relations Board to July 1, 2020, from July 1, 2016. The bill passed 35 to 6.

-SB 397, by Sen. Kyle Loveless and Rep. Greg Babinec, modifies the definition of the term "bus" within the Bus Passenger Safety Act to mean a vehicle designed to carry passengers that is part of a network of passenger vehicles for use by the public, running on a regular schedule of routes, times and fares. It exempts a weapon carried for lawful self-defense in compliance with the Oklahoma Self Defense Act from the definition of the term "deadly or dangerous weapon." It removes persons accompanying or meeting another who is transported by this company, any person shipping or receiving cargo and any person purchasing a ticket or receiving a pass from the definition of the term "passenger." The bill clarifies language regarding the penalty for seizing or exercising control of a bus by force or violence. It removes language prohibiting anyone other than a law enforcement officer from board a bus with a concealed dangerous or deadly weapon. It exempts defensive force resulting from reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to an individual or another from the prohibition on discharging any firearm or hurling or placing in the path any missile at, into or within any bus, terminal or other transportation facility. The bill passed 43 to 1.

-SB 475, by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Charles McCall, requires a salt water facility operator toallocate the oil recovered, saved and sold, based upon the barrels of salt water and oil received from a particular source for the month, divided by the total barrels of salt water and oil received by the facility for the month. It requires the facility operator to file a report with the Tax Commission and pay the applicable production taxes, reflecting the volume of oil recovered, saved and sold and the gross proceeds from the sale thereof. The bill passed 38 to 0.

-SB 734, by Sen. A J Griffin and Rep. Mark Lawson, requires the Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to promulgate rules and standards for certification of behavioral health case managers and peer recovery support specialists who are employed by a tribe or tribal facility that provides behavioral health services or employed by an Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs or a United States Department of Veterans Affairs facility. It eliminates the two-year limitation that any Class II controlled dangerous substance, when used by an opioid substitution treatment program for persons with a history of opioid addiction to or physiologic dependence on controlled dangerous substances be used in treating persons with a history of addiction. The bill passed 43 to 0.

-SB 743, by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Charles McCall, creates the Oil and Gas Produced Water Recycling and Reuse Act. It requires the Corporation Commission, no later than one year after the effective date of the bill, to identify or list as hazardous waste any drilling fluids, produced waters or other wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil or natural gas and to promulgate rules for the recycling and reuse of wastes identified and listed as hazardous waste. The bill passed 38 to 0.

-FS for SB 301, also by Sen. A J Griffin, and Rep. Jon Echols, exempts a student who was in out-of-home placement or was adopted while in the permanent custody of the Department of Human Services or the Office of Juvenile Affairs from certain requirements for participation in the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, but requires them to meet all other eligibility requirements listed therein.

• The House convened briefly Thursday morning, the deadline for consideration of bills and joint resolutions for floor consideration in their chamber of origin. They considered no legislation and adjourned. All House Appropriations and Budget subcommittees met after adjournment on Thursday.


Other News

• Rep. Scott Martin, R- Norman, announced Monday he will leave the House at the end of the session to take a job with the Norman Chamber of Commerce as president and chief executive officer. He begins his duties June 1. Martin submitted the appropriate paperwork to House Speaker Charles McCall and Gov. Mary Fallin tendering his resignation from his House seat effective May 31. The first regular session of the 56th Legislature must adjourn by May 26.

Due to term limits, Martin would have been unable to seek reelection in 2018. Martin won reelection in November's general election, capturing just more than 60 percent of the vote.

• Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday that former Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez is re-joining her Cabinet to fill the vacant position of secretary of state. Lopez will begin his new duties Monday, March 27. His appointment still must be confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

Lopez succeeds Mike Hunter, whom the governor appointed last month as attorney general. As secretary of state, Lopez will serve as a senior adviser to the governor on policy, economic and legislative issues. He served as the governor's secretary of commerce from 2011 until 2013.

• Governor Mary Fallin announced Tuesday the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald as her special adviser for innovation, entrepreneurship and entertainment. Fitzgerald will attend Cabinet meetings and help set policy in attracting entrepreneurs and in developing training for high-tech jobs. Fitzgerald, of Norman, has more than 30 years of experience in various industries with an exceptional track record for innovation, leadership and mastery of various disciplines, such as Apple iTunes, Walt Disney Studios, Citibank (Caribbean and Latin America) and Campbell Soup Co. He had global responsibilities at Apple and at Walt Disney Studios.

• The Oklahoma Water Resources Board voted unanimously Tuesday to name Julie Cunningham as the agency's next executive director. Cunningham had been serving as the interim executive director since October 2016 following the departure of J.D. Strong to lead the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

• Ralph Shortey resigned his seat in the State Senate on Wednesday. The former Oklahoma City legislator was charged last week in Cleveland County District Court with engaging in child prostitution; engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church; and transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness.

The Senate had already voted unanimously last week to suspend Shortey's privileges as a legislator. Gov. Mary Fallin will call for a special election to fill the vacancy left by Shortey’s resignation, but due to state and federal timelines regarding when elections can be held, the seat will remain vacant through the remainder of the current legislative session.