Senate adjourns session

The Oklahoma State Senate adjourned before 5pm Friday with a slate of legislative successes reflecting the jobs-focused, common-sense conservative goals of majority party Senate Republicans. 

With an ambitious agenda rooted in pro-growth policies and a focus on protecting core functions of government, Senate Republicans refused to shy away from the toughest issues facing Oklahoma.  Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he was proud of the upper chamber’s accomplishments and particularly impressed by the courage and dedication shown time and again by his caucus.

“From day one, Senate Republicans promised to focus on jobs, the economy, and making government smaller, simpler, and smarter.  We’ve stuck by our word, and there’s so much we should be proud of,” said Bingman. “When the special interests and their lobbyists flooded the Capitol, fighting desperately to protect tax credits and giveaways that we all knew weren’t in the best interest of Oklahomans, Senate Republicans made the tough choices and passed a bill to get rid of these credits.  We wanted to give that hard-earned money back to our taxpayers.  And while we remain frustrated by our House colleagues’ refusal to hold a vote on the tax cut agreement they signed off on, we’re still committed to helping the Governor pass a significant reduction.”

Bingman praised the Senate for protecting core government services—education, transportation infrastructure, public safety, and human services.

“We succeeded in protecting the most basic and important things state government does—teaching in the classroom, fixing broken roads, keeping our families safe, and making sure we defend kids who have endured heartbreaking abuse or neglect.  Not only did we protect and increase spending for these services, but we’ve passed landmark reforms to move Oklahoma forward.  Our citizens are already beginning to see the impact of our positive, forward-looking reforms.”

Noting the broad scope of legislation passed by the Senate in 2012, Bingman added the people of Oklahoma can take pride in the accomplishments of the fifty-third legislature.

“With a landmark energy efficiency bill that will save hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, historic reforms to criminal justice and human services, and a proven commitment to defending the Second Amendment, Senate Republicans have delivered a session the people of Oklahoma can be proud of, as well.”

Bingman included praise to the Senate Democrats.  “I firmly believe this is a body of 48 valuable members that have all added greatly to the process this year.  While we have a majority and a minority caucus, both have contributed by offering their life experiences and expertise as a unique perspective and conscious on every issue that we addressed.  Our success as a body is a result of diligent work from Democrats and Republicans alike.”

“I cannot thank my colleagues enough for their dedication, tenacity, and leadership on the most important issues facing Oklahoma.  I am honored, and deeply humbled, to work side-by-side with individuals of the Senate’s caliber.”

Senate Republican agenda items passed this session include:

Job Creation and Economic Development
•    SJR52 – Sends to a vote of the people a constitutional amendment change which would exempt intangible property from taxation. (Passed Senate and House; headed to statewide ballot).
•    HCR1031 – Calls for Congressional oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency due to rules and regulations passed by that agency which hinders businesses and makes it more expensive for them to operate. (Approved).
•    HB2204 – Requires individuals to register for work on OESC website after applying for unemployment benefits.  Claimant has burden of proof when there is a positive drug or alcohol test.  25% penalty for fraud related to overpayment of unemployment benefits.  Increases efficiency in the unemployment claim process. (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1246 – Puts a stay on payment of workers’ compensation benefits when a person if going through a workers’ compensation fraud proceeding. (Signed by the Governor).

•    SB1959 – Provided supplemental funding for flexible benefits and National Board Certification bonuses. (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1975 – Provided adequate funding for National Board Certification bonuses for FY13. (Sent to the Governor).
•    SB1816 – Allows the State Board of Education to sponsor a statewide virtual charter school. (Sent to the Governor).
•    SB1056 – Establishes a pilot program at technology center school districts to increase the number of students taking industry certification examinations and obtaining trade-specific industry certifications and licenses. (Signed by the Governor).

Health and Human Services
•    HB3133 – Any individual who knowingly provides false information in a deprived child proceeding commits a felony. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB3134 – DHS to eliminate the Field Operations Division and to vertically integrate all program divisions and staff; field operations and programs shall no longer be separated into different divisions. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB3135 – Allows for DHS to release certain information when a child death has occurred. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB3137 – Gives the Governor authority to select the DHS Director, subject to confirmation from the Senate. Creates citizen advisory panels to evaluate core areas of DHS. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HJR1092 – Refers to the vote of the people a constitutional amendment which would delete the DHS Commission and allow the department to be administered under the Governor’s purview. (Passed Senate and House; headed to statewide ballot).
•    HB3058 – Establishes a rural residency training program to be administered through the OK Healthcare Authority. (Sent to the Governor).
•    SB1863 – Allows colleges and universities to utilize courses and experience gained by honorably discharged service members as an exchange for college credit. (Signed by the Governor).

Public Safety
•    SB1734 – Allows any peace officer to conduct investigations and make arrests in regard to human trafficking violations.  (Signed by the Governor)
•    SB1959 – Provided supplemental funding for an additional OHP trooper academy. (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1975 – Provided funding for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which includes block grants for police departments, mental health counseling, and monitoring upon a person’s release from prison. Also annualized supplemental funding for OHP trooper academies. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB2941 – Requires pharmacies to maintain electronic records of non-prescription pseudoephedrine sales.  Institutes real-time tracking service in Oklahoma and across state lines.  A stop-sale order will be issued if certain conditions are met. (Signed by the Governor).

Reforming Oklahoma Government
•    SB1096 – Energy efficiency initiative for all state buildings. Estimated savings over 10 years of $300M to $500M. (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1975 – Budget passed this year kept most agencies at a standstill budget.  Major increases were limited to DHS due to the settlement agreement and Dept. of Transportation to restore funding to the 8-year plan. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB3055 – Establishes public policy of Oklahoma that the state will consume no more fresh water in 2060 than is consumed in 2012.  (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1975 – Allocates $2M for water monitoring as called for in the Comprehensive Water Plan. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB2262 – Establishes the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund. Proceeds from the sale of excess state property shall be deposited into the fund. (Signed by the Governor).

Transportation and Infrastructure Improvement
•    SB1975 – The General Appropriations bill returns the ROADS Plan to full funding. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB2248 – Raises the cap on the ROADS Fund by $15M for a total of $575M. (Sent to the Governor).
•    HB2249 – Raises the apportionment of motor vehicle taxes going to the county road and bridges fund over a 3-year period for a total of $20M. (Sent to the Governor).

Other Bills of Note:

•    SB1733 – Open carry with reasonable protections and licensing. (Signed by the Governor).
•    SB1386 – Allows Attorney General to pursue suspected cases of Medicaid fraud. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HJR1093 –Disapproves judicial and statewide office holder pay-raises. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB3052 – Justice Reinvestment Initiative. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB2204 – Reduces unemployment benefit fraud. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB2381 – Physician must be present when RU486 is administered. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB2561 – Allows for civil action against abortion providers. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB3049 – Unlawful for registered sex offender to live with a minor child who is not in the family. (Signed by the Governor).
•    HB3056 – Requires flex benefits to be funded first by the State Department of Education. (Sent to the Governor).