The full Senate voted to prioritize child safety on Monday by passing Senate Bill 339, which would require any child 17 years old and younger riding in the back seat of a passenger vehicle to properly wear a seatbelt. The measure is authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington.
The bill was one of many approved by the Senate last year, but stalled in the House due to the shortened session caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pederson re-introduced the bill this legislative session.read more.
The full Senate has given its approval to a measure to make sure local governments don’t ignore the will of their citizens when cutting police department budgets. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, is the author of Senate Bill 825 which was approved on Monday.
Standridge said the concept is straightforward—if the citizens had previously approved a tax increase to fund public safety, the local government cannot redirect or reduce those funds without a second vote of the people.read more.
In a move to stop the fraudulent use of the sales tax exemption extended to Oklahoma’s 100% disabled veterans, the Senate passed Senate Bill 415 Monday. The measure is authored by Navy veteran Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.read more.
Oklahoma has around 33,000 state employees and one of their benefits as state workers is to get most, if not all, of their health insurance covered under their flexible benefit allowance. As a measure to control costs, the annual benefit allowance was frozen in 2012 and has not increased since, even though health premiums have increased almost annually. On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 650 to bring the benefit allowance more in line with current healthcare costs. Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, authored the bill.read more.
“In God We Trust” has been the United States’ national motto since it was adopted by Congress in 1956 and on U.S. currency since the Civil War. It has been part of America’s national vocabulary since its founding. Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, authored Senate Bill 815 to ensure counties and municipalities can continue displaying it if they want. The measure passed the full Senate 41-5 Thursday.read more.
Oklahoma is known for its love of sports, but some home teams aren’t playing fair when it comes to allowing access to broadcast streams of games for their opponents. Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, authored Senate Bill 302 to ensure all fans get the opportunity to watch their favorite high school teams and players.read more.
The full Senate approved Senate Bill 567 on Thursday to establish the Oklahoma Homeland Security Revolving Fund, which would provide state aid for the funeral expenses of state military or law enforcement personnel who die in the line of duty.read more.
The Senate gave overwhelming support to two bills Thursday to help lighten the burden for military families transferring to Oklahoma. Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, was pleased that Senate Bills 68 and 69 have been sent on to the House. The Navy veteran said the measures will help get the children of these active military parents back in school as quickly as possible.
“Hundreds, if not thousands, of military families are transferred to our four military bases each year.read more.
The full Senate has approved legislation to protect the First Amendment free speech rights of public school employees. Senate Bill 634, by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, requires school districts to ask employees once a year if they want to continue to have association dues deducted from their paychecks.read more.
The Senate has given approval to two measures that would improve the accuracy and efficiency of state elections. Senate Bills 710 and 712 were authored by state Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher.read more.
The full Senate on Thursday approved a measure to prohibit law enforcement agencies from releasing audio or video showing an officer dying in the line of duty unless a court determines there is a compelling reason the material should be released in specific cases. Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, is principal author of Senate Bill 968. Haste said his bill is supported by law enforcement as well as the Oklahoma Press Association.read more.
Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, said he was pleased with the passage of Senate Bill 619, a measure to provide on the job experience for more of Oklahoma’s high school students. The Senate unanimously approved the bill Thursday expanding the Apprenticeships, Internships and Mentorships Act of 2016 to include sophomores, 16 years or older.read more.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved two education bills to help enhance retention and graduation rates at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities. Sen. Dewayne Pemberton is the author of Senate Bills 237 and 238 dealing with state and federal financial aid for students.read more.
The Senate voted in favor of legislation Wednesday that will help attract retired teachers back to Oklahoma classrooms. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Chair and Education Committee Vice Chair, Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, is the author of Senate Bill 267 that he says is desperately needed to address Oklahoma’s continuing teacher shortage.read more.
In an ever-growing virtual world, the Senate gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 97 Tuesday to allow witnesses in jury and bench trials to testify via videoconferencing. Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, is the bill’s author.
“Last year, we approved legislation authorizing district courts to utilize videoconference technology in civil and criminal proceedings. It was a much-welcomed change especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we decided to extend usage for all district court cases,” Brooks said.read more.
Oklahoma has been praised as having one of the best and most secure election systems in the country. On Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly supported legislation prohibiting any state official, agency or local government from altering election procedures through legal agreements or court settlements that conflict with state election law.
Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, said he authored Senate Bill 523 to protect the integrity of Oklahoma elections by preventing the questionable and unethical election actions that took place in other states during the 2020 presidential election.read more.
A measure allowing the re-selling of public or private cemeterial burial plots was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 335 would provide a mechanism to re-sell burial sites at public or private cemeteries if the plot has been unused for 75 years and a reasonable search to find the owner has been conducted. Authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, the measure was resurrected and re-filed for consideration after it didn’t make it through the legislative process during the 2020 session due to the COVID-19 pandemicread more.
The full Senate has given approval to a bill to help law enforcement locate kidnap victims faster. Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, is the author of Senate Bill 272, the “Kelsey Smith Act,” which would require cell phone companies to provide phone location information to law enforcement in emergency situations, such as an abduction.read more.
A bill that will help more nonviolent offenders qualify for the Electronic Monitoring Program passed out of the Senate unanimously late Tuesday. Senate Bill 456’s author, Sen. Bill Coleman, said the measure was needed to correct an oversight in state law that left inmates sentenced between five and ten years unable to participate in home monitoring.read more.
Among the many bills stopped during the shortened 2020 legislative session was one to help potentially save lives by providing judicial authorization of certain anatomical gifts. Altus Republican Brent Howard reintroduced his legislation this session, which received approval Tuesday by the Senate.read more.