OKLAHOMA CITY – A criminal reform package containing four bills aimed at allowing the state to be smart on crime without jeopardizing public safety was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday.
Senator Wayne Shaw, author of HB 2753, one of the four bills in the package, said these reforms were overdue and needed to alleviate excessive and growing strain in the state’s prison system.read more.
Gov. Mary Fallin has signed Senate Bill 1113, which would allow the recovery of attorney fees by those who have unjustly had their assets seized through the civil asset forfeiture process. The measure was authored by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond.
"This is a positive step in reforming civil asset forfeiture, as it will encourage those who have had their assets unjustly taken to fight back," Holt said.
The full Senate has approved Sen. David Holt’s legislation to make “revenge porn” a crime in Oklahoma. The bill now advances to the Governor’s desk for her consideration. Senate Bill 1257 passed the Senate 39-0. The measure criminalizes the unauthorized dissemination of intimate photos or video—usually after a relationship has ended—an act commonly referred to as “revenge porn.”
Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks issued the following statement regarding the election of Senator Mike Schulz as President Pro Tempore Designate.
“I want to extend my congratulations to Senator Mike Schulz for his election by his caucus as President Pro Tempore Designate of the State Senate.read more.
Republican senators on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to designate Senator Mike Schulz, R-Altus, as the next President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate. The President Pro Tem is the upper chamber’s top leadership position. In addition to leading the Majority Caucus and setting its agenda, the Pro Tem oversees the operations of the Oklahoma Senate.
The Oklahoma Veterans Council presented Sen. Frank Simpson with the Senator of the Year Award Monday during a joint legislative session to honor Oklahoma’s veterans. Simpson, chairman of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, has authored numerous bills during his tenure in the Senate to help the state’s military and their families.
The Oklahoma Legislature passed the Oklahoma Telecommunications Act in 1997, which created the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF). The Act provides funding from the OUSF to public schools, public libraries and non-for-profit healthcare providers so that those entities may have access to high speed internet connectivity without charge.
On Thursday, the Senate approved House Bill 2616, authored by Sen. Eddie Fields and Rep. Todd Thomsen, to update the OUSF funding process to keep up with changing technology.
Legislation that changes the legal definition of “pattern of physical abuse” has been signed into law. Senate Bill 1491, also known as Kristin’s Law, authored by Sen. Bryce Marlatt and Rep. Scott Biggs, was approved by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday. Marlatt said the change will enable tougher penalties to be handed down sooner—a change that could help save lives.
On Thursday, the Senate honored the life of one of Oklahoma’s great sons, former Oklahoma City Assistant Fire Chief and Public Information Officer, Jon Hansen. Hansen is best known for his vital role in keeping Oklahomans and the world informed following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in 1995. Sen. Ron Sharp was the author of Senate Resolution 59.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed House Bill 2599 to address growing concerns surrounding the popular use of drones. Sen. Ron Sharp is the principal Senate author of the measure that restricts flight of unmanned aircraft over “critical infrastructure” less than 400 feet above ground level or past their fence lines.
Gov. Fallin signed legislation Thursday to allow taxpayers to donate their income tax refund to the state. Senate Bill 1085, authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, will create a checkoff box to allow individuals to donate all or a portion of their state income tax refund or make a direct donation to the state General Revenue Fund (GRF).
The Senate on Wednesday approved a measure that would allow voters to change the way judges are nominated in the state of Oklahoma. House Bill 3162, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker Jeff Hickman, places a state question on the ballot for November to allow voters to change the section of the constitution that provides for filling vacancies for judges.read more.
The full Senate has given bipartisan approval to a slate of common sense criminal justice reforms. The four measures, which were proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Committee, would still hold criminals accountable, but represent a better approach to dealing with nonviolent offenders that will help reduce chronic prison overcrowding, reduce recidivism, and ultimately help save taxpayer dollars.read more.
The full Senate has given its approval to a bill supporters say will enable more cold cases to be solved in Oklahoma. Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Lee Denney are the principal authors of HB 2275, which amends current law so that DNA samples could be collected upon arrest for a felony crime. The DNA would be collected through a sample of saliva.
The full Senate approved a measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Rep. James Leewright that is aimed at ending the practice of “stolen valor.” The bill was approved Tuesday 44 to 2.
House Bill 2450, by Bingman and Leewright, increases the fine for an act of “stolen valor,” which involves impersonating a member of the Armed Forces by wearing any decoration or medals awarded to members of the Armed Forces. The fine would be increased from $100 to $1,000 under HB 2450.
A measure to track and keep repeat impaired drivers off Oklahoma roads passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday. House Bill 3146, authored by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Mike Sanders, will require all driving under the influence (DUI) cases to be handled by courts of record.
The Senate gave unanimous approval to legislation Tuesday to allow judges to consider post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mitigating factor when making sentencing decisions for veterans. Sen. Frank Simpson is the Senate principal author of House Bill 2595, which he says will help veterans get the assistance they need rather than being sent to jail.
Legislation was signed into law this week to promote growth in Oklahoma’s third largest industry, tourism. Senate Bill 1206, by Sen. Eddie Fields and Rep. Gary Banz, authorizes the creation of an additional class of improvement districts within municipalities for tourism purposes including providing marketing services for public or private events, if those events can be reasonably expected to increase occupancy at a hotel or motel within the district.
Oklahoma is one of only seven states that doesn’t require insurance companies to cover treatment for children with autism. On Thursday, the full Senate joined the House in supporting a measure that would bring Oklahoma into line with the majority of states, helping thousands of families with autistic children finally get the help they need. House Bill 2962 was approved with bipartisan support 36 to 5.read more.
Oklahomans will now be able to see what federal funds state agencies receive each year and how that money is being used thanks to legislation signed into law Monday afternoon. Sen. Greg Treat is the author of Senate Bill 1342, which he says will also help legislators be able to better gauge the financial needs of agencies when crafting the state’s annual budget.