Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oklahoma May Employment

After remaining fairly steady at an average of 2,558 new unemployment claims filed each week in Oklahoma, the number dropped by 96 for the first week of June. 

Continued claims increased by 117 for the week ending 5/26/2012 from the previous week.

According to the BLS the unemployment rate in Oklahoma rose slightly in May to 4.8 percent from the April 4.4 percent. The total number unemployed grew from 79,144 in April to 86,532 in May, or by about 9 percent. This may have to do with the labor force increase (as graduations came about) of 7,058 people during the same period. Over the past 10 years we have seen an increase in unemployment in May and June then a decrease during the fall months. The report shows that the number of people employed dropped by only 330 from April to May of this year. 

As noted above, the number employed in Oklahoma dropped by 330 from April to May, a trend we see happening each year at varying numbers. The total employed was, 1705,744 in May.
With the labor force growing from 1,785,218 in April to 1,792,276 in May, or 7,058 people, the number of available jobs could not keep pace.
The average hourly wage increased by $ .03 from April to May from $20.66 to $20.69. This is still a decrease from January $21.03 by $ .34 per hour. That equates to about $54.00 each month lost in wages since January.

It is important to keep in mind that the hourly wages from the BLS shown here are for all private industries. The fact that many new jobs have been made available will have an impact on the average hourly wage reported here.

Total Collections Grow in May as Gross Production Continues

Even though natural gas and crude oil prices are lower than expected, Oklahoma’s total revenue collections continue to rise, driven primarily by income and sales, State Treasurer Ken Miller said today as he released the monthly gross receipts report for May.
“With incomes climbing and sales tax collections on the rise, Oklahomans continue to show confidence in the economy in spite of renewed global uncertainty and a pullback in U.S. job growth,” Miller said.
May collections are up by 5.8 percent from May of last year, Miller said. That compares to average growth over the past 12 months of 9.2 percent. 

Watching natural gas and oil prices
In May, collections from gross production taxes on oil and natural gas were less than the same month of the prior year for a sixth consecutive month, and for the seventh time in eight months. Reflecting the continued downward slide in gross production collections, the 12-month running total for that revenue source turned negative this month.
The percentage of total gross production taxes generated by natural gas production has steadily fallen since last year. In October, 51 percent of gross production collections came from gas extraction. By April, the amount had dropped to 32 percent. The proportion of the tax produced by natural gas for May is not yet available.
Gross production collections in May reflect prices and production from March, when the spot price for natural gas at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, considered a benchmark for gas prices, averaged $2.06 per thousand cubic feet. April prices dropped to an average of $2.01, but May prices rose to an average of $2.51.
In the past month, the price of crude oil has also trended downward. From late February until the end of April, the spot price of West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil at Cushing stayed above $100 per barrel. In May, crude prices dropped throughout the month, closing May 31 at $86.53/bbl, levels not seen since last October.
Rig counts last week were set at 192 total, 22 higher than at the same time last year. However, active natural gas rigs have dropped from 122 last year to 53 this year. Active oil rigs have climbed from 48 last year to 139 this year.
“In the coming months, we will be keeping a close watch on natural gas and crude oil prices and any potential spillover effect on the Oklahoma economy,” Miller said.

Overall growth seen
Income tax collections have risen by double-digits from the same month of the previous year in nine of the past 12 months, while sale tax collections have averaged eight percent growth during the same time.
Since hitting the trough on revenue collections from the recession in February 2010, 12-month collections have increased by $1.63 billion and are now only $289 million below the peak in December 2008.
Miller pointed to the latest reports on state and local unemployment as bright spots.
“At 5.0 percent, the April unemployment rate for Oklahoma is more than three percentage points lower than the national rate. Oklahoma City’s rate of 4.0 percent is the lowest of the nation’s 49 largest cities and speaks to the strength of the rebounding economy,” he said. “Reports show 38,500 more Oklahomans have jobs now than a year ago.”

May collections
The revenue report for May sets gross collections at $858.9 million, up $46.7 million or 5.8 percent from May 2011.
Gross income tax collections, a combination of personal and corporate income taxes, generated $268.5 million, an increase of $35.2 million or 15.1 percent from the previous May.
Personal income tax collections for the month are $258.2 million, up $35.9 million or 16.1 percent from the prior year. Corporate collections are $10.3 million, down by $600,000 or 5.8 percent.
Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $335.5 million in May. That is $21.6 million or 6.9 percent above May 2011.
Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $63.1 million in May, a decrease of $32.5 million or 34 percent from last May. Compared to April reports, gross production collections are up by $1.1 million or 1.8 percent.
Motor vehicle taxes produced $62.3 million, up by $6.5 million or 11.6 percent from the prior year.
Other collections, consisting of about 60 different sources including taxes on fuel, tobacco, horse race gambling and alcoholic beverages, produced $129.5 million during the month. That is $16 million or 14.1 percent more than last May.

Twelve-month collections
Between June 2011 and May 2012, gross revenue totals $10.99 billion. That is $923.1 million or 9.2 percent higher than collections from the previous 12-month period.
Gross income taxes generated $3.85 billion for the period, reflecting an increase of $420.5 million or 12.3 percent from the prior 12 months.
Personal income tax collections total $3.32 billion, up by $311.6 million or 10.3 percent from the June 2010 to May 2011 period. Corporate collections are $530.6 million for the period, an increase of $109 million or 25.9 percent over the previous period.
Sales taxes for the period generated $4 billion, an increase of $303.9 million or 8.2 percent from the prior 12-months.
Oil and gas gross production tax collections brought in $940 million during the 12 months, down by $15.5 million or 1.6 percent from the previous period.
Motor vehicle collections total $688.8 million for the period. This is an increase of $58.6 million or 9.3 percent from the trailing 12 months.
Other sources generated $1.51 billion, up $155.6 million or 11.5 percent from the previous 12 months.

Laws Signed by Governor from 53rd Legislature, 12nd Session

HB 1910 authorizes the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to test for and regulate licenses and operator certifications and to inspect certain wells or boreholes. The measure authorizes the Board to prohibit use of a well until it is brought into compliance and to impound rigs and equipment under certain conditions. The Board is authorized to issue emergency orders without a hearing under certain conditions. The committee substitute also reduces the expenditure cap of the Well Drillers and Pump Installer Remedial Action Indemnity Fund to $10,000 for each well, borehole or pump for which action is taken. 

HB 1952 creates the Oklahoma Weigh Station Act of 2012.  The bill provides definitions used in the Act.  The measure authorizes the Department of Transportation, the Turnpike Authority and the Corporation Commission to enter into interagency agreements concerning the equipment, maintenance and operations of fixed weigh stations.  Provides that the three parties shall endeavor to electronically upgrade weigh stations to minimize duplication.  Provides that the Corporation Commission is to operate all current and future ports of entry weigh stations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week upon the availability of funds.  Provides that the Corporation Commission is to continue to conduct roadside enforcement in areas where a fixed facility is planned.  Provides that the Corporation Commission is only authorized to conduct motor carrier and commercial motor vehicle enforcement at fixed facilities and within 7 miles of a fixed facility.  Provides that a commercial motor vehicle, its driver or a motor carrier may not be cited for the same violation on the same date as the original citation. Provides that the Corporation Commission and the Department of Public Safety may enter into interagency agreements to share information electronically. 

HB 1985 gives preference to veterans in hiring. When establishing employment lists of eligible persons for competitive and noncompetitive appointment, the committee substitute for HB 1985 requires that any veteran who meets the basic qualifications for a position to be interviewed in person in order to allow the veteran to demonstrate any transferable skills acquired in military service.

HB 2090 allows college technology center school districts and technology center school district to share revenues from building fund levies in areas where the two districts overlap apportioned one-half (1/2) to the college technology center school district making the levy and one-half (1/2) to the overlapped technology center school district. Only one district shall make a building fund levy in the overlap territory during any given time period.

SB138 provides that the Department of Public Safety make space available on the front or back of the driver license and identification card that will enable a flag emblem to be placed on the card to signify that the applicant is a military veteran effective November 1, 2012.

HB 2248 increases the annual apportionment to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) Fund from $41.7 million to $59.7 million.  Currently the apportionment to the ROADS fund ends when the total amount reaches $435 million.  The measure allows the apportionment to be made until the fund reaches $575 million.

HB 2300 transfers the authority to certify the children’s shelters operated by the Department of Human Services (DHS) from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) to the Office of Juvenile Affairs.  The measure also:
  • Modifies the criminal background check requirements for a trial reunification of a child with the child’s parent(s) to apply only to an adult in the home who is not the parent, legal guardian or custodian of the child;
  • Modifies the list of findings used by the court to establish that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with the child’s parent(s) are not required;
  • Prohibits children 6 years of age or younger from being placed in shelter care after June 30, 2012 and prohibits children 13 years of age or younger from being placed in a shelter after June 30, 2014, provided suitable alternative placements are available;
  • Authorizes the Director of DHS to hire the Advocate General;
  • Applies the standards used for investigations of abuse or neglect of children who are not in DHS custody to investigations of abuse or neglect of children who are in the department’s custody; and
  • Requires OCCY to implement the Oklahoma Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Program.

House Bill 2306 requires that school district alternative education plans be included in the school improvement plans school districts must adopt every six years. School districts with one or more school sites on the needs improvement list must submit school improvement and capital improvement plans electronically.
The State Board of Education must identify schools that are consistently listed as persistently low-achieving and boards of education with schools on that list must submit an annual update of the school improvement plan to the State Board of Education.
The measure also repeals the section of law that requires school districts to adopt a Comprehensive Local Education Plan every six years as part of receiving accreditation. This eliminates the need for school districts to submit information twice since information in the Comprehensive Local Education Plan state law already requires that information in other reports to the State Board of Education.
The measure also removes language that gives the State Board of Education the authority to review preliminary plans for new construction and major alteration of public school buildings before a school district can let bids.
The State Department of Education must provide training for regional accreditation officers in alternative education compliance. School districts must show on transcripts students’ highest achieved scores on end-of-instruction tests rather than all scores.
Those appointed to school board positions must agree to take 12 hours of instruction related to education within 15 months. If a member is required to leave his or her seat due to not completing the requirement, he or she cannot be reappointed or run for reelection to the board for three years for three-member boards, four years for seven-member boards and five years for five-member boards.
Any teacher employed full time by a school for 10 or more consecutive years immediately before applying to become a substitute in that district, may be exempt from the requirement to have a national criminal history record check. If the teacher applies to become a substitute in another district, the new district must require a background check.

HB2510 prohibits a person from making a sales tax exemption granted to an organization in order to make a purchase exempt from sales tax for his or her personal use and provides for misdemeanor and administrative fines and penalties for violations of the law.
Any person who knowingly makes a purchase in violation of this law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined an amount equal to double the amount of sales tax involved, or incarcerated for not more than sixty days, or both.
In addition to the penalty noted above, any person violating subsection A of this section shall be subject to an administrative fine of not more than $500.00.  Administrative fines collected pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall be deposited to the General Revenue Fund.

HB 2787 allows a bank or credit union to transfer or release the contents of a rented safe deposit box to the known heirs of the deceased sole owner of the safe deposit box when no beneficiary or successor has been designated.  All known heirs must either be present when the box is opened or have a duly authorized agent attend on their behalf.  The bank or credit union will not be held liable if they are acting in good faith with respect to the affidavit and duly authorized agent.

Friday, June 1, 2012

End of the Legislative Session

No Tax Cuts
May 25th marks the end of this legislative session. There was not final tax cut but many other bills were passed to law or sent to the governor.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she will not call a special session to deal with a tax cut. She said Thursday she's disappointed the House and Senate failed to reach a final agreement on what was one of her top priorities for the legislative session but she'll continue to push for a tax cut next year and that lawmakers have "a clean slate" to work on.
President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, issued the following statement after the Governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, "Governor Fallin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for her dedication, tenacity and leadership on the most important issues facing Oklahoma this legislative session. We have accomplished much together that frankly wouldn't have been possible this year without the Governor leading the way.
“I remain committed to helping the Governor advance a significant income tax reduction that reflects her jobs-focused, conservative leadership. While we have yet to produce a final proposal, we found much common ground between many tax cut bills debated this session. Going forward, Governor Fallin has given us all something to build on-- I'm proud of our efforts and honored to work with her."
Budget Barely Gets By
The Oklahoma House on Thursday narrowly approved a $6.8 billion general appropriations bill to fund state government, just hours after the same bill failed, avoiding the need to return for a special session.
Lawmakers needed to approve the bill by 5 p.m. May 25th, the constitutional deadline for adjournment, or be forced to return for a special session. The measure, which already passed the Senate, now heads to the governor’s desk.
Other Legislation
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. (Signed by 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. (Signed by 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. (Signed by 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. (Signed by 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. (Signed by 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. (Signed by the Governor).

Bill Author Praises Signing of Pet Breeder Oversight Legislation

State Rep. Phil Richardson praised Governor Mary Fallin for signing into law a measure that alters the oversight of commercial pet breeders in Oklahoma. House Bill 2921 abolishes the Commercial Pet Breeders Board and transfers the board’s responsibilities to the state Department of Agriculture. The legislation would apply to breeders who have 11 or more female cats or dogs capable of reproducing.
“This was a bipartisan bill meant to insert some balance into how these small businesses are regulated,” said Richardson, R-Minco. “The Department of Agriculture knows about proper animal husbandry and how to regulate it. There were a number of lawmakers who did not agree with some of the decisions of the Commercial Pet Breeders Board. I believe the industry needs to have some scrutiny, but that they did not strike the proper balance between oversight and support for the industry.”
The legislation was approved by a vote of 89-1 in the House, Richardson said.
“This was not a divisive issue,” said Richardson. “Almost everyone was on board with the idea of giving the Department of Agriculture the authority to regulate this industry rather than an independent commission. I’m pleased by the consensus.”
The ASPCA called this bill inhumane.
“In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the original Commercial Pet Breeder Act, which mandated the creation of the Commercial Pet Breeder Board. This was a great step forward to protect puppy mill dogs. The fair-minded, knowledgeable board has worked hard to put humane, enforceable standards in place for the care of dogs in Oklahoma's large-scale breeding facilities. H.B. 2921 will abolish the Commercial Pet Breeder Board and the administrative rules it created and transfer puppy mill enforcement and oversight to the Department of Agriculture—an agency that does not have the expertise, knowledge or experience necessary to protect the animals.”
“By transferring oversight responsibilities to the state Department of Agriculture, this legislation will ensure the humane treatment of animals while also providing fair treatment and regulation of commercial pet breeders in Oklahoma,” Governor Fallin said. “It also allows us to continue to reduce the size of our state government without reducing the quality of services or oversight we are providing. My thanks go out to the Legislature for sending this bill to my desk.”
According to officials at the Department, in order to keep the license fees reasonable, the Department will need state appropriations for personnel, but that licensing and other fees should pay for the cost of fulfilling the additional provisions of the Act.  In addition, the measure stipulates ODAFF will receive any money in the Pet Breeders Board accounts, which, as of December 2011, was $222,000. It will also save $168,000 in annual personnel costs.
House Bill 2921 defines adult animal as an intact female 12 months of age or older.
The measure requires that the State Board of Agriculture enforce and administer the provisions of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act and promulgate rules that establish application and license renewal procedures and fees. The board also will establish procedures for license revocation, denial or denial of renewal; and minimum standards of care for animals. The board must establish procedures for the sale of animals. Breeders will have an exemption for animals that are used for training and not breeding.
A person must not act as a commercial pet breeder without a commercial pet breeder license. The measure allows the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to contract with a local veterinarian, other state agency or any other person to conduct pre-license inspections and annual inspections. The department may not hire any humane society group or member to make inspections. The department must inspect pet breeder facilities before issuing the initial pet breeder license and applicants must pay a nonrefundable inspection fee.
Breeders must obtain a separate license for each location where they keep breeding animals.
The department may deny a license or renewal or revoke a license if a breeder is convicted of a crime involving animal cruelty, violation of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act or violent felony offenses or a felony punishable under the Oklahoma Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The board also may revoke or deny a license if a person’s license pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act was revoked or denied due to improper care of animals.
The measure also requires that breeders must report annually to the department the number of adult males and other information about the prior year’s operations. Breeders must also keep a health record for each animal that states inoculations and medications given.
If the State Board of Agriculture finds a breeder in violation of the act or rules created due to the act, the board may assess a penalty of between $100 and $10,000, with each animal, each action or each day being a violation. A facility cannot be charged more than $10,000 in administrative penalties in a license year.
The measure also repeals the sections of law that previously established the Commercial Pet Breeders Act.
Breeders who apply for a license no later than September 1, 2012, will be exempt from cage-size requirements more stringent than United States Department of Agriculture standards. Cages replaced after September 1, 2012, must meet state cage-size requirements.
The measure also creates the Commercial Pet Breeders Assistance Revolving Fund to be used for defraying veterinary costs and care of animals removed from a commercial pet breeder.

Senate votes to prevent use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts

The Senate approved a proposal that would prevent the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts. The conference committee report for Senate Bill 671 states that courts shall not enforce or utilize foreign law if doing so would provide a defense or justification for a crime.
Sen. Dan Newberry, author of the measure, said those who value and wish to protect our system of law should be pleased by the bill’s passage.
“Our legal code is much more than just a series of rules and procedures – it is the expression of our unifying principles,” said Newberry, R-Tulsa. “Our laws reflect our values and ideals, and those who embrace and wish to protect those values should be pleased by this bill’s passage. It’s simple - either you wish to see our law used to determine court rulings, or you think it’s appropriate for foreign law to excuse or justify crime in our state.”
Senate Bill 671 will now advance to the House for consideration.
"Foreign law" is defined as any law, rule, code or legal system of a jurisdiction outside of the states or territories of the United States of America, but does not include any law, rule, code or legal system of federally recognized Indian tribes.
“The Constitution provides clear guarantees to those who enter our courts, and this law will ensure those guarantees will never be broken by the whim of a judge who is influenced by foreign law,” Newberry said. “By approving this measure, we are protecting both our core principles and the rule of law.”