Senators Ted Fisher, Ben Robinson, Mike Morgan, President Pro Tem Cal Hobson,
Governor Brad Henry and House House Speaker Larry Adair met with the press Friday
following Sine Die to discuss this year's legislative session.
As lawmakers entered the next to last day of the Second Session of the 49th Oklahoma Legislature, the leader of the State Senate Thursday morning proclaimed this session as the most successful in his 26 years of legislative service.
“We have addressed in a positive way more significant issues in this session than in any other since I first came here in February 1979,” Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson said. “We’ve given the people of Oklahoma the chance to rescue our state’s ailing horse racing industry and regulate tribal gaming for the first time in history.
Special Session Likely Needed to Pass Meaningful Reform
Senate Republican leaders said Wednesday that time is running out for meaningful lawsuit reform to be passed by the Legislature this year, and that a special session may be needed to complete work.read more.
State Sen. Jim Maddox said he disagreed with an interpretation of the law on term limits that could force him to leave office in mid-term. The Democrat from Lawton said he was considering a legal challenge in an effort to finish the four-year term he was elected to serve.
Just this week the legislature approved a bill outlining the procedure for filling such seats by special election. House Bill 2663 was approved by the Senate on Tuesday after being approved in the House on Monday.
The State Senate has given final approval to two measures that will enhance the benefits of Oklahoma’s educators today, according to State Senator Kenneth Corn. Senate Bill 1134 and Senate Bill 1272 will both help to properly compensate retired and current teachers.
SB 1134 would provide for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for retired members of the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma based upon the retirement benefit amount and the years of service of each retired member.
Senate Republican Leader James Williamson disagreed with the assessment of Senate President Pro Tem Cal Hobson that Friday’s Senate vote on a tobacco tax bill (House Bill 2660) was the most important vote since House Bill 1017 in 1990.
“Health care is a very important issue in the state, as the level of support for HB 2660 bears out. But in my opinion, if the Legislature fails to pass a meaningful lawsuit reform bill and does not address workers compensation reform this year, the 2004 legislative session can only go down as a failure,” said Williamson, R-Tulsa.read more.
Oklahoma Senators today gave final approval to Governor Henry’s Health Initiative sending a proposed tobacco tax increase to the vote of the people in November.
The Oklahoma State Senate passed a measure Thursday that will give Oklahomans another chance to vote on the cockfighting issue. Senate Bill 835 by Senator Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, would reduce the penalty for cockfighting from a felony to a misdemeanor.
"The law was not well written," said Shurden. "We send people to prison for far less time for crimes such as the rape of a child. The punishment doesn't fit the crime, and I don't think this is what the voters intended."
Senator Charles Ford announced the dedication of another original painting commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. The painting, titled “Mahongo” by nationally renowned artist Mike Wimmer of Norman, was unveiled during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber this afternoon.
State Senator Robert Milacek announced on Tuesday that legislation to let Oklahomans vote on a fuel tax hike for transportation is dead for the legislative session. The Enid Republican blamed high fuel prices for the decision.
“It’s disappointing, because we’ve been working on this a long time. I believe we had an excellent shot of passing the bill and getting it to a vote of the people—but no one could have predicted the gas prices we’ve been seeing,” Milacek said.