The Oklahoma Senate


Week In Review
Monday, Feb. 12, to Wed., Feb. 15, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

• The Senate met briefly Monday but no formal floor action was taken.

• Teachers from around the state rallied at the State Capitol on Monday in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan, which outlined a proposal to pay for teacher pay raises. State Superintendent of Education Joy Hofmeister and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis spoke to the group Monday.

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

-SB 950, by Sen. Gary Stanislawski requires a school district to permit a student to possess and self-apply sunscreen that is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration without the written authorization of a parent, legal guardian or physician. It permits an administrator, a school nurse or designated school employees to apply the sunscreen on the student if the parent or legal guardian of the student provides written authorization if a student is unable to self-apply sunscreen. It defines the term "sunscreen" to mean a compound topically applied to prevent sunburn. It exempts from liability a school nurse, an administrator or designated school employees who apply sunscreen on a student for any adverse reaction suffered by the student as a result of having sunscreen applied or discontinuing the application of the sunscreen at any time.

• The Senate Health and Human Services Committee advanced several bills during its first meeting of the 2018 regular session and approved two executive nominations.

-SB 1074, by Sen. Greg McCortney and Rep. Josh West, as amended, modifies language related to the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Licensing Act. The bill modifies certain definitions and requires anyone not holding credentials for independent practice to hold the designation of assistant and be required to work under supervision.

-SB 890, by Sen. Josh Brecheen and Rep. Sean Roberts, with title stricken, creates the Oklahoma Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act of 2018. The bill defines applicable terms. It requires the State Department of Health to make available to the public on its website the most current price information it receives from hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities. It requires any data disclosed to the department by a hospital or ambulatory surgical facility be and remain the sole property of the facility that submitted it.

-SB 972, by Sen. Frank Simpson, requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to examine the feasibility of a state plan amendment to the Oklahoma Medicaid Program for diabetes self-management training (DSMT). It requires the authority to submit by Dec. 1, 2018, a report to the Senate President Pro Tempore, the House Speaker and the Governor estimating the potential costs to the state, clinical findings, reviews of pilot projects and research from other states on the effects of DSMT on persons with a diabetes diagnosis. It requires, beginning July 1, 2019, the authority draft a state plan amendment for DSMT for persons with a diabetes diagnosis if the report demonstrates DSMT to be evidence-based and essential to qualifying participants in the Oklahoma Medicaid Program. It defines the term "diabetes self-management training (DSMT)" to mean the process of facilitating the knowledge, skill and ability necessary for diabetes self-care and provides the process requires incorporating the patient's unique needs and experiences into an individualized education and support plan that promotes new behaviors and solutions, including, but not limited to, healthy eating, physical activity, self-monitoring and medication use.

-SB 1052, by Sen. A J Griffin, removes requirement that court notices for mental health evaluations require that at least one of the two mental health professionals be a psychiatrist who is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a licensed clinical psychologist, or a licensed Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy who has received specific training for and is experienced in performing mental health therapeutic, diagnostic, or counseling functions.

-Committee members also advanced two executive nominations, both of which now move to the full Senate for approval:

? Steve Buck, executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA), to the position of Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services. Buck, who succeeds Terry Cline, was appointed to the position by Fallin in November not long after Cline's resignation due to reports surfacing of years of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health where he served as commissioner.

? Members also approved the nomination of Michael T. Haynes to the Physician Manpower Training Commission to serve a five year term ending June 5, 2023. Haynes succeeds himself.

• The Senate General Government Committee approved several bills on Monday, including the following:

-SB 1465, by Sen. James Leewright, prohibits any political subdivision from restricting, taxing, prohibiting or issuing any ordinance regulating the use, disposition or sale of auxiliary containers.

-SB 1314, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, requires, as the condition of a bid award, that the State Purchasing Director verify a supplier's participation in cooperative purchasing agreements. It also requires the State Purchasing Director require the submission of data from participating suppliers, for inclusion in the annual cost savings report.

-SB 1013, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, requires the State Auditor and Inspector to set accounting practices for all state agencies based upon Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as published by the Government Accounting Standards Board.

-SB 1044, by Sen. Jack Fry, adds road and bridge construction services to the procedure for requisition, purchase, lease-purchase, and rental-supplies, material, and equipment for maintenance, operation, and capital expenditures of county government. The bill provides that its provisions do not prohibit counties from providing material and/or services bid on their 12-month bid list to all road and bridge projects and contracts.

-SB 1261, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, repeals the Oklahoma Centennial County Courthouses
Preservation Act.

-SB 1263, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, requires a virtual charter school approved and sponsored by the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to maintain a quorum of board members for the entire duration of the meeting whether using an in-person site, videoconference sites or any combination of such sites to achieve a quorum.

-SB 1364, by Sen. Chris Kidd, gives the board of county commissioners the authority to trade-in equipment to a vendor or on statewide contract by acquiring used equipment values.

• The Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee unanimously passed several bills to the Senate floor Monday without debate, including:

-SB 1050, by Sen. Lonnie Paxton, modifies the definition of the term "insurance agent" to remove language that provides it means the same as the term "insurance producer" and defines the term to mean an insurance producer properly appointed by an insurance carrier to act as an agent for that insurance carrier. The bill repeals language related to the Oklahoma Life, Accident and Health Brokers Act.

-SB 1101, with title stricken, by Sen. John Sparks, creates the Insurance Business Transfer Act. It provides a basis and procedures for the transfer of policies from a transferring insurer to an assuming insurer by way of an Insurance Business Transfer without the consent of policyholders or reinsureds. The bill establishes requirements for notice and disclosure standards and procedures for the approval of the transfer and novation by the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner and the District Court of Oklahoma County.

-CS for SB 1142, as amended and with title stricken, by Sen. Marty Quinn, modifies the definition of the term "insolvent" under the Service Warranty Act to require certain financial statements be audited. It also requires service warranty association financial statements to be audited. The committee did not change the overall effect of the proposed legislation.

-SB 1156, with title stricken by Quinn, modifies the requirements for travel insurance in relation to limited lines producers may receive qualification for a license. It creates the Travel Insurance Act. It requires all other applicable provisions of Oklahoma's insurance laws to continue to apply to travel insurance except that the specific provisions therein supersede any general provisions of law that would otherwise be applicable to travel insurance. It defines terms used therein. It allows the Insurance Commissioner to issue a limited lines travel insurance producer license to an individual who or business entity that has filed with the Commissioner an application for such license in a form and manner prescribed by the Commissioner.

-SB 1162, with title stricken, Sen. Kim David, repeals language related to the Oklahoma Individual Health Insurance Market Stabilization Act. The title was stricken from this bill.

-SB 1169, with title stricken, by Sen. Paul Scott, requires every insurance company doing business in Oklahoma that issues compulsory liability insurance to notify the Department of Public Safety electronically of every person who fails to make payment on such a policy that results in the cancellation of the policy. It provides procedures for notification.

-SB 1321, by Sen. Marty Quinn and Rep. Lewis Moore, modifies the definition of the term "uninsured motor vehicle" to include underinsured motor vehicles. It defines the term "underinsured motor vehicles." It requires uninsured motorist coverage provide for payment to the insured of all amounts the insured is legally entitled to recover as damages from the owner or operators of an underinsured motor vehicle, not to exceed the limit specified in the insurance policy, after recovery of all applicable liability coverage from the insurer or insurers of the underinsured motor vehicle. The bill modifies payment requirements.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

• The Senate met briefly on the floor Tuesday but took up no legislation. Tuesday's floor session allowed the desk to be open to receive bills being passed out of committee. Those bills later will be eligible to be heard on the floor.

• The Senate Finance Subcommittee met on Tuesday and approved the following bills:

-SB 893, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes the Dec. 1, 2018, sunset date for the $25 million limit on the credits for investment or job creation. The bill was amended to clean up some of the language.

-SB 1068, by Sen. Greg McCortney, relates to credits for qualified investment in property or new jobs. The bill limits the carry forward period for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to each of the five years following qualification for credits based on investment in qualified depreciable property and to each of the 10 years following qualification for credits based on a net increase in employment.

-SB 943, by Sen. Kay Floyd, requires individual income tax and corporate income tax forms for tax year 2019 and beyond contain a provision to allow a donation from a tax refund for the benefit of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Revolving Fund. It requires money donated to be deposited in the Oklahoma AIDS Care Revolving Fund created by the bill. The bill appropriates money from the fund to the Department of Health for the purpose of providing grants to the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund for purposes of emergency assistance, advocacy, education, prevention and collaboration with other entities. It establishes procedures for a taxpayer to request a refund.

-SB 897, by Sen. Roger Thompson, modifies and limits the duties of the Incentive Approval Committee to determining the eligibility of all applicants for the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Act, subject to the applicable requirements. The bill repeals the Saving Quality Jobs Act.

-SB 906, by Sen. Frank Simpson, exempts the sale of motor vehicles from the purchase limit for the sales tax exemption for honorably discharged, 100 percent disabled veterans.

-SB 953, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies the definition of the term "qualified project" as it applies to the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act, increasing the population threshold to qualifying projects from counties with populations of less than 150,000 to counties with populations of less than 300,000. The bill reduces the number of years unused tax credits in the program can be carried forward to three years from five years beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

-SB 1004, with title stricken, by Sen. Tom Dugger, requires the Insurance Commissioner to verify the number of Oklahoma employees being used to determine qualification for the insurance premium credit through the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The bill provides that an insurer will only be considered to have met the requirements for full-time, year-round Oklahoma employees if the total number of employees has increased or been maintained from the immediately preceding year for which the credit is being claimed.


• The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday and gave its stamp of approval on several bills, including:

-SB 968, by Sen. Julie Daniels, modifies requirements for claims for relief filings. The bill creates a section for "Alternative Statements/Inconsistency." The bill updates statutory references.

-SB 1067, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies references to the Oklahoma Drug Court Act. The bill requires all participating treatment providers for a drug court program be certified by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and be selected and evaluated for performance-based effectiveness annually by the department.

-SB 1550, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, allows a party to petition or file a motion with a court of competent jurisdiction to request a post adjudication evidentiary hearing to present evidence of material facts not previously presented and heard by the court. It allows for such evidence to include forensic scientific evidence that was not available to be offered by the party at trial or that disputes forensic scientific evidence relied on by the state at trial. It also allows the court to alter, modify, or vacate a previous judgment at the conclusion of the hearing.

-SB 1264, as amended, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, permits a suit to be brought against a county by naming a county officer identified in when it is alleged that such officer in his or her official capacity is directly or vicariously liable to plaintiff in an action not sounding in contract. The bill provides a suit otherwise may be brought by naming the Board of County Commissioners. It permits the court in actions against the board not sounding in contract, upon motion, to substitute a county officer identified in his or her official capacity for the board upon a showing that such county officer is better suited to represent and defend the county under the particular facts of the case. The bill changes the word "sounding," an outdated term, to "arising."

-SB 1274, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, prohibits a government entity from obtaining the metadata, stored data or transmitted data of an electronic device without a search warrant issued by a court upon probable cause. It also prohibits a government entity from using, copying or disclosing for any purpose the metadata, stored data or transmitted data of an electronic device that is not the subject of the warrant that is collected as part of an effort to obtain the metadata, stored data or transmitted data of the electronic device that is the subject of the warrant.

-SB 1298, by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton and Rep. Avery Frix, requires a court to submit clear and concise written findings specifying the factors considered in making a determination on visitation or custody of a child or children to be included in the final visitation or custody of order. It requires an order entered pursuant thereto to be an appealable order to a court of competent jurisdiction.

-SB 1503, by Sen. John Sparks, increases the time a party to respond to an amended pleading within the time remaining for response to the original pleading from within 10 days to within 20 days.

-SB 1567, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, requires an elected district attorney to be deemed competent to prosecute capital cases or to appoint or designate an assistant district attorney to prosecute capital cases.

• The House of Representatives heard and passed three bills during the regular session on Tuesday.

-HB 2537, by Rep. Tammy West, requires an assisted living center, defined therein, to have at least 96 hours of alternative sources of energy sufficient to maintain facility temperatures through the operation of existing heat and air conditioning systems for resident health protection beginning July 1, 2021. It requires newly licensed assisted living center, beginning Nov. 1, 2018, to meet the requirement upon licensure. The measure passed 78-8.

-HB 3064, by Rep. Terry O'Donnell, requires the Office of the Attorney General to promulgate rules to establish and maintain the Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Registry and requires the Registry to contain information regarding the individual being registered. The bill passed 93-0.

-HB 3302, by Rep. Harold Wright, expands the scope of committing forcible sodomy to include a person responsible for the health, safety or welfare of an individual between the ages of 16 and 18 and defines applicable terms. It includes agent or employee of a public or private residential facility and the owner or employee of a childcare facility. Wright's bill passed 90-0.

• On Tuesday, Rep. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, defeated Democrat candidate Amber Jensen to win the Senate District 27 seat. Former Sen. Bryce Marlatt resigned from the seat in September following accusations he forcibly touched an Uber driver in Oklahoma City. Murdock was first elected to the House in 2014. He will serve the remainder of Marlatt's four-year term from his 2016 reelection. The unexpired term will not count against his 12-year term limit, extending the time he could serve in the Legislature to 2029. Murdock is scheduled to be sworn into the Senate on Thursday, February 22.

• Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, was elected Oklahoma City's next mayor on Tuesday, meaning the Senate will finish the 56th Legislature with at least one vacancy. Holt won the mayoral race with more than 78 percent of the vote in the three-way mayoral race.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

• The Senate met briefly on the floor Wednesday but took up no legislation. The Senate approved the executive nomination of Office of Juvenile Affairs Executive Director Steven Buck to the post of cabinet secretary for health and human services for Gov. Mary Fallin.

• The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation met Wednesday and approved the following legislation.

-SB 1031, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, requires prior to engaging the services of underwriters, bond or any other legal counsel, financial advisors, consultants, or a financial institution to serve as trustee, paying agent or in any fiduciary capacity relating to the sale or placement of the obligation, a local authority, trust, or third-party issuer of the obligations to request proposals for the services from a plurality of individuals or firms engaged in providing the particular services. The bill requires the selection of service providers be based on the individuals or firms who will provide the most economical and competent service which furthers the best interest of the local school district.

-SB 1032, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, applies to the sale or placement of any lease-backed or lease revenue bond, note, lease or other obligation to construct or acquire any facility for the benefit of a municipality. The bill requires prior to engaging the services of underwriters, bond or any other legal counsel, financial advisors, consultants, or a financial institution to serve as trustee, paying agent or in any fiduciary capacity relating to the sale or placement of the obligation, a local authority, trust, or third-party issuer of the obligations to request proposals for the services from a plurality of individuals or firms engaged in providing the particular services. The bill requires the selection of service providers be based on the individuals or firms who will provide the most economical and competent service which furthers the best interest of the local school district. The bill requires the State Bond Advisor to maintain a list of individuals and firms that have notified the Bond Advisor that they have an interest in providing such services and to provide the list to issuers for their use in the competitive selection of professional service providers under this section.

-SB 944, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, requires the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' Division of Central Accounting and Reporting to establish a mandatory training program to identify and certify certain Oklahoma state agency employees as financial managers, including those who oversee purchasing, finance and other vital fiscal functions of state agencies. The bill permits the division to assess a fee to state agencies for such training that does not exceed each state agency's pro rata share of the costs the division incurs to provide the training.

-CS for SB 976, by Sen. Roger Thompson, removes the prohibition on the locations of motor license agents being owned by a member of the Legislature. It adds a prohibition on the location of a motor license agent being owned an employee of the Oklahoma Tax Commissioner or a commissioner. It provides a current agent may submit a letter of resignation contingent on the appointment of a qualified applicant, regardless of the population of the municipality, in a situation where the applicant is assuming the location of an existing or operating agency. The bill updates outdated language.

• The Senate Appropriations Committee gave its approval Wednesday to a series of measures altering various tax incentives, along with several other bills.

-SB 953, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies the definition of the term "qualified project" as it applies to the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act, increasing the population threshold to qualifying projects from counties with populations of less than 150,000 to counties with populations of less than 300,000. The bill reduces the number of years unused tax credits in the program can be carried forward to three years from five years beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

-SB 883, by Sen. Roger Thompson, extends to Jan. 1, 2022, the tax credit for fees paid by banks and credit unions under the Small Business Administration "7(a)" loan guaranty program.

-SB 888, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, terminates the retailer ethanol tax credit on Nov. 1, 2018.

-CS for SB 893, by Sen. Marty Quinn, removes the sunset date for the $25 million annual cap on the credits for investment or job creation.

-SB 897, by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, modifies and limits the duties of the Incentive Approval Committee to determining the eligibility of all applicants for the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Act, subject to the applicable requirements. The bill repeals the Saving Quality Jobs Act.

-SB 1004, by Sen. Tom Dugger, requires the Insurance Commissioner to verify the number of Oklahoma employees being used to determine qualification for the insurance premium credit through the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The bill provides that an insurer will only be considered to have met the requirements for full-time, year-round Oklahoma employees if the total number of employees has increased or been maintained from the immediately preceding year for which the credit is being claimed.

-CS for SB 1068, by Sen. Greg McCortney, relates to credits for qualified investment in property or new jobs. The bill limits the carry forward period for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to each of the five years following qualification for credits based on investment in qualified depreciable property and to each of the 10 years following qualification for credits based on a net increase in employment. It increases the qualifying income and investments thresholds.

-SB 903, by Sen. A J Griffin, modifies language related to the School Consolidation Assistance Fund. It removes language that permits money from the fund to be used for unemployment compensation and adds language that permits money from the fund to be used for dismissal payments by the consolidated or annexing district. The bill prohibits the State Board of Education from paying the severance allowance to employees determined to be eligible for the award until the employee has filed an initial claim for unemployment with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. It requires the severance allowance amount be reduced by the total amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employee for the claim if the employee is determined to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. It permits the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to release benefit claim information to employees of the State Department of Education for the purpose of determining eligibility for severance allowance awards.

-SB 906, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Tommy Hardin, exempts the sale of motor vehicles from the purchase limit for the sales tax exemption for honorably discharged, 100 percent disabled veterans.

-SB 943, as amended, by Sen. Kay Floyd, requires individual income tax and corporate income tax forms for tax year 2019 and beyond contain a provision to allow a donation from a tax refund for the benefit of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Revolving Fund. It requires money donated to be deposited in the Oklahoma AIDS Care Revolving Fund created by the bill. The bill appropriates money from the fund to the Department of Human Services for the purpose of providing grants to the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund for purposes of emergency assistance, advocacy, education, prevention and collaboration with other entities. It establishes procedures for a taxpayer to request a refund. The amendment changed the agency to which the funds will be appropriated from the Department of Health to the Department of Human Services.

-SB 1008, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Glen Mulready, adds soliciting, inducing or enticing another to commit an act of prostitution and human trafficking to the list of activities that define a criminal street gang.

• The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services approved two bills on Wednesday.

-SB 1081, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, with title stricken, establishes the Children's Trust Fund of Oklahoma to provide grants to private nonprofit organizations in order to stimulate a broad range of innovative programs, efforts and activities that will improve the lives of Oklahoma's most vulnerable children. It permits the fund to accept gifts, donations and bequests from any person, foundation or entity. It requires the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth to administer the fund and for it to be governed by the Commissioners of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth and the Parent Partnership Board associated with the commission. It requires the commission to promulgate certain rules. It requires all funds to be distributed through a competitive bid process and for awards to be made on an annual basis with a maximum of five years for renewals. It establishes guidelines for organizations to receive the awards. The bill requires the State Treasurer to direct investment of the funds and to annually prepare an accounting of revenues and expenditures from the Trust Fund. It establishes requirements and limitations for expenditures from the Trust Fund.

-SB 1152, by Sen. Adam Pugh, requires the Department of Human Services to explore and recommend methods and funding necessary for the state to pursue pay-for-performance contracts with education vendors and training and case management support vendors contingent upon available state funding.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

• The Senate met briefly Thursday but considered no legislation. Lawmakers are now two weeks from the March 1 deadline for bills and joint resolutions to be considered in a committee of their chamber of origin.

• The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee met Thursday and gave its stamp of approval for the following legislation:

SB 1347, by Sen. Frank Simpson, creates the Oklahoma Veterans Facility Investment Act of 2018. The bill authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to plan, develop and construct a long-term care facility for the purpose of assuming the operations of the Oklahoma War Veterans Center established in Talihina. The bill permits the department to construct new facilities or refurbish any existing facilities on property currently owned by the State of Oklahoma or on property purchased or donated from other sources, including but not limited to private owners or other governmental or municipal entities. The bill requires the location of the facilities be subject only to such geographical constraints as are imposed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to preserve and continue recognition and certification of the facility as a State Veterans' Home. The bill requires the location and site of the facility be determined by the Oklahoma Veterans Commission and permits it to consider all criteria which, in its sole discretion, further the interests of Oklahoma veterans. It requires operations of the Oklahoma War Veterans Center established in Talihina to continue its operations are transferred to the location identified by the commission.

-SB 995, by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton and Rep. Avery Frix, creates a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six months or both for a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false or fraudulent claim to be a recipient of awards, medals, ribbons, decorations and/or badges which were conferred for valor, heroism and/or combat service in order to obtain compensation, benefits or services of any value; a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false or fraudulent claim to be a recipient of awards, medals, ribbons, decorations and/or badges which were conferred for valor, heroism and/or combat service in order to gain employment with any business, entity or establishment which, under its hiring policies, grant favorable credit or qualifications to those persons who list prior military service on their resume; and a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false or fraudulent claim to be a recipient of awards, medals, ribbons, decorations and/or badges which were conferred for valor, heroism and/or combat service in order to obtain services, merchandise and/or any valuable item at reduced, discounted or no monetary expenditure. It creates a felony for a person convicted of subsequent violations to be pushed by a fine not to exceed $5,000 and imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.

-SB 1141, by Sen. J.J. Dossett, provides any state licensing or certification authority that fails to implement rules or laws for recognizing appropriate military training and experience for its occupational or professional licensing or certification process will be deemed in violation of the Post-Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act. The bill clarifies language related to licensing.

-SB 922, by Sen. Frank Simpson, requires the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to establish the Oklahoma Women Veterans Program that will be housed within the office of the executive director. It provides the mission of the program will be to ensure that women veterans in the State of Oklahoma have equitable access to federal and state veterans' benefits and services. It requires the executive director to designate a women veterans’ coordinator for the State of Oklahoma. The bill establishes the program's requirements. It permits the department, on behalf of the program, to accept and spend funds appropriated to the department for the operation of the program and received from other sources, including donations and grants and to provide matching grants to assist in the implementation of the program's goals and objectives. It requires the department not later than Nov. 1 of each even-numbered year to submit to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Oklahoma Veterans Commission and the Legislature a report on women veterans in the state. The bill permits the report to be delivered electronically and establishes requirements for the report. The bill authorizes the Oklahoma Veterans Commission to promulgate necessary rules.

-SB 931, by Sen. Frank Simpson, permits the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to accept and receive gifts, donations, devices, bequests, grants, or contracts of any kind for money or property, either real or personal including but not limited to military memorabilia, artifacts or equipment, whether conditionally or unconditionally given. It directs, authorizes and empowers the department to hold such funds or property outright or in trust, invest or sell the property, and to use the principal or interest or proceeds of sale for the benefit of current or future veterans’ programs, facility construction, repair or improvements, or departmental operations. It requires the department to utilize its best efforts to comply with the terms of any conditional gift, devise or bequest in fulfillment of the donor's stipulations and provisions of applicable laws. The bill also permits any real or personal property donated with conditions that are determined infeasible to meet or continue to be returned to the donor, or if the donor is no longer living, if a natural person, or no longer a legally organized entity, for organizations, to be sold and the proceeds of the sale deposited in the departments general fund or the property may be further donated in kind to a veterans' service organization.

-SB 932, by Sen. Frank Simpson, permits any Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs employee to be granted administrative leave with pay for volunteer service activities under such terms and limitations as the Executive Director may establish, in service to veterans or dependents of veterans in the state that meet one or more of the following criteria: The activity is directly related to the Department's mission; the activity is sponsored or sanctioned by or in partnership with the Department, or the activity will enhance the development or skills of the employee in his or her current position. It requires the leave be as brief as permitted under the circumstances and not support an activity otherwise prohibited by law while in a duty status. The bill requires the agency's executive director to establish guidelines for approval of administrative leave for volunteer service which balances the department's goals and operations and ensures that each is conducted efficiently and effectively.

-SB 1053, by Sen. Frank Simpson, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain certification through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accept payments and reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid programs for services provided through Oklahoma Veterans Centers. It authorizes the department to promulgate necessary rules.

• The Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget began the process Thursday of rewriting the fiscal year 2018 budget by approving the following bills:

-CS for HB 1020XX, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, Rep. Kevin Wallace, Sen. Eddie Fields, and Sen. Kim David, modifies general appropriations for the FY2018 fiscal year. The bill implements 0.66 percent cuts across-the-board. The bill's do pass recommendation passed 8-2.

-CS for HB 1021XX, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, Rep. Kevin Wallace, Sen. Eddie Fields, and Sen. Kim David, states it is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Human Services fully fund Advantage Home and Community-based Waiver Program, Money Follows the Person, Homeward Bound Waiver, In-home Supports, Advantage Waiver, Personal Care and state-funded community residential and vocational services and Adult Day Services.

-CS for HB1022XX, by Rep. Dennis Ray Casey, Rep. Kevin Wallace, Sen. Eddie Fields, and Sen. Kim David, appropriates $31.8 million from the FY2017 General Revenue Fund to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to replace federal funds withheld due to the deferred federal financial participation expenditures claimed on the Quarterly Medicaid Statement of Expenditure. It appropriates $110 million from the FY2019 General Revenue Fund to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to be distributed to Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma for the benefit of the Deans Graduate Medical Education Program, in the same ratio as such funds were provided for such purpose by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in fiscal year 2017.

• The Senate said Thursday it is bringing back agencies next week for further budget hearings. The agencies returning for hearings represent approximately 92 percent of the annual appropriated state budget.

• The House of Representatives took up two bills during regular session Thursday.

-HB 2634, by Rep. Greg Babinec, gives any employee of the Department of Public Safety appointed to the position of Commissioner the right to return to the previous position of the employee without any loss of rights, privileges or benefits immediately upon completion of the duties as Commissioner, provided thee employee is not otherwise disqualified. The bill was approved by a vote of 63- 17.

-HB 2926, by Rep. Avery Frix, requires a public agency awarding public construction contracts exceeding $50,000 to provide a qualified contractor residing in and doing business in Oklahoma an option to match the lowest bid. The bill requires that the bid specifications clearly state that the bid is subject to a local bidder preference law. The bill passed with 85-5.


Other News

• General Revenue Fund collections in January were $596 million, $47.2 million or 8.6 percent above the monthly estimate and $90.8 million or 18.0 percent above collections one year earlier, Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Denise Northup reported Wednesday. In almost all categories, Northrup said collections came in above the prior year, with total income tax collections coming in at $51.4 million or 21.7 percent above prior year collections and sales tax collections at $25.9 million or 16 percent above prior year collections.

Northrup was named director of the agency Tuesday by Gov. Mary Fallin, succeeding Preston Doerflinger who resigned from state service.

• Preston Doerflinger resigned effective immediately on Tuesday from his positions as interim commissioner at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Cabinet Secretary of Finance and director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) respectively Tuesday after reports of domestic abuse surfaced a day earlier. Doerflinger submitted his letter of resignation to the State Board of Health less than 24 hours after The Frontier, a Tulsa-based nonprofit news website, reported on a 2012 incident in which Doerflinger was alleged to have choked his now ex-wife twice during an argument.