Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Laws signed by OK Governor

Legal Scales

Manufactured Home Sales

HB 1078 would prevent a manufacturer from selling, exchanging or lease-purchasing a manufactured home to a person who is not a licensed manufactured home dealer.

Handgun License

HB 1243 states a person subject to the provisions of a deferred sentence for the offenses of:

  • any assault and battery which caused serious physical injury to the victim or any second or subsequent assault and battery,
  • any aggravated assault and battery,
  • any stalking or a similar law of another state,
  • any violation of the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act or any violation of a victim protection order of another state,
  • any violation relating to illegal drug use or possession,
  • an act of domestic abuse as defined by Section 644 of this title or an act of domestic assault and battery or any comparable acts under the law of another state

shall not eligible for a handgun license for three years and shall begin upon the final determination of the matter.

Property Tax

HB1265 directs the county assessor to reassess properties damaged by fire, lightning, storms, winds, floodwaters, overflow of streams or other natural events, and present the reassessment to the board of tax roll collections for their consideration. The measure also extends the deadline, from January 1 to October 1 of the taxable year involved, to amend clerical errors when the name of the true owner is incorrect.

The measure relates to procedures of county boards of equalization in instances where properties are damaged, impaired or destroyed by natural events and the reassessment of value based on the change is considered by the board of tax roll corrections. Changes in fair cash value will depend on the amount of value altered by the natural event.

Space Flight Immunity

HB1882 creates the Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act to limit the liability of a space flight entity if a participant of space flight activities is injured. The measure requires the space flight entity to post a warning statement, inform participant of the risks associated with space flight activities as required by state and federal law and receive informed consent from the participant.

Protective Order Processes

HB 1912 reads that a court may not require the victim seeking a protective order to seek legal sanctions against the defendant including, but not limited to, divorce,separation, paternity or criminal proceedings prior to hearing a petition for protective order.

This law also states the court shall not impose any term and condition that may compromise the safety of the victim including, but not limited to, mediation, couples counseling, family counseling, parenting classes or joint victim-offender counseling sessions.

Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Plan


Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 1792 into law on April 29th, 2013, also known as the Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Plan.

The Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Plan will provide minimum vehicle liability insurance coverage for the payment of loss resulting from the liability imposed by law for bodily injury, death and property damage sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of a vehicle when a citation is issued and the vehicle license plate has been seized.

“We simply cannot afford uninsured driving in our state any longer,” said Insurance Commissioner John Doak. “Not only does it raise auto insurance rates for all Oklahomans, but if an uninsured driver hits your car, the costs could cripple you financially. We must put an end to this serious problem.”

“Unfortunately, right now, the fine for driving uninsured is less than the cost of insurance,” said Doak.

Coverage shall only be provided by the Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Plan from the time period beginning when the citation is issued and the vehicle license plate is seized until the owner of the vehicle either obtained documentation from the Department of Public Safety showing the owner of the vehicle has secured for the payment of loss resulting from the liability imposed by law for bodily injury, death and property damage sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of the vehicle meeting the minimum vehicle liability limits, or provides proof of insurance.

A daily cost for the insurance will be established. The daily cost of coverage shall be paid to the county sheriff’s office and the fine and fees associated with the traffic ticket shall be paid to the court clerk. The daily cost of coverage shall be calculated on each twenty-four-hour period from the time the citation was issued. Sherriff's officers will not be allowed to exempt anyone from the premiums.

In addition to fines for failure to comply with insurance laws and daily forced placed insurance costs there will be a $125.00 fee in order to retrieve the license plate back from the sheriff's office.

Around 25 percent of Oklahoma motorists are uninsured, according to Chuck Mai, Oklahoma AAA Vice President.

An evaluation by the Oklahoma Insurance Department found that approximately 563,692 vehicles in Oklahoma are uninsured, resulting in an $8.8 million dollar loss for the state’s General Revenue Fund and Police and Firefighter Pension Funds.

AAA is part of an Insurance Department task force with other industry representatives to examine the problem of uninsured drivers in the state.

Uninsured drivers also boost the cost for insurance premiums for other drivers, Mai said.

Rates can be affected depending on the number of accidents involving uninsured drivers in a certain geographic area, he said.

“Our rates are certainly higher than if everyone had insurance,” Mai said. “If you are struck by an uninsured driver, it is difficult to collect on any damages to your vehicle. Consequently, your insurance rates will typically rise, and those of the entire pool can rise as well.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

OK Senate approves ‘Protect Against Pedophiles Act’

after school recreation

The full Senate has given unanimous approval to House Bill 2228, creating the “Protect Against Pedophiles Act.” The measure, by Senator Kyle Loveless and Rep. Joe Dorman, gives schools a greater ability to protect Oklahoma children from predators by conducting background checks for adults volunteers. The measure was approved on Monday, 44 to 0.

“Pedophiles actively seek paid or volunteer positions that will bring them into contact with children. That’s one of the reasons we screen teachers and other employees,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. “But according to federal law, those schools cannot screen volunteers unless state law specifically authorizes it. House Bill 2228 will give our schools that authorization.”

“As a parent, when I drop my daughter off at school, I want every measure that is reasonable to ensure her safety and I think today we are one step closer to maximizing the safety of our children.” Loveless said.

According to HB 2228, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) would conduct the criminal background check, which would be paid for by the school district or the volunteer. College students who are required to spend time in public schools as part of their curriculum, such as education majors who do student-teaching, would be required to pay the fee themselves.
Dorman said the background checks would include finger printing, making it more difficult for predators to hide past crimes.

The bill also defines "Prospective volunteer" as a parent, guardian or any
individual who intends to volunteer in a capacity that gives him or her direct contact with students on a regularly scheduled or continuing basis or that gives him or her supervisory responsibility for students at a school site or on a school-sponsored trip.

“There are individuals using a false identity in order to be able to enter our schools and interact with students, according to OSBI information,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “This bill gives schools a tool to catch these individuals, whether they are pedophiles or simply adults who should not be interacting with students.”

HB 2228 now returns to the House of Representatives for approval of Senate amendments.

New Procrastinators Law - Driver’s License Renewal After Expiration


Legislation signed into law today will give individuals with an expired license more time to obtain a new one by simply providing the expired license.
Currently, Oklahomans have 30 days after the date of expiration to renew their license or they must provide a birth certificate to obtain a new license.
House Bill 1082, by state Rep. Pat Ownbey and state Sen. Frank Simpson, would allow an expired license to be used as proof to obtain a new license for up to a year.

The measure states that no person has a property interest in a driver license and would require a person who has had their driving privileges suspended or revoked to apply for a new driver license upon completion of reinstatement.

“The intent of the birth certificate requirement was to prevent fraud, but it really should be targeted towards new license applicants rather than renewals, even one year after expiration of the original license,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “The current requirement has been the source of a lot of trouble for many of my constituents and it was very clear to me that it needed to be amended.”

The new takes effect Nov. 1.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Top Senator Apologizes for Monsanto Protection Act

Anthony Gucciardi
Prison Planet.com
April 2, 2013

Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland has released a public statement apologizing to the public for the passing of the Monsanto Protection Act, stating that the legislation was buried deep within a government spending bill that was required to ‘prevent a government shutdown’.

Mikulski is the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, one who was ultimately responsible for passing the bill that contained the notorious Monsanto Protection Act — a legislative ‘rider’ that grants biotech juggernaut Monsanto immunity from federal courts when it comes to their GMO crops. Although ‘written’ by Senator Roy Blunt, who actually gave Monsanto the ability to write their own Monsanto Protection Act and has received over $60,000 from Monsanto, Mikulski has taken serious flak for the passing of the rider.

A rider that Monsanto thought they could slip through the Senate without much of a fight, only to find that the alternative news has made it a mainstream media topic by force (despite GMO lovers saying that it never even happened).

Massive Activism Leads to Apologies

In a release from Senator Mikulski’s office, Mikulski states that she actually sides with frustrated activists who are against the Monsanto Protection Act and had no other choice but to pass the spending bill to prevent ‘government shutdown’. And she’s not the only one. Senator Tester reportedly told Politico that the rider serves no one but major biotech corporations, and many others have begun to speak out following the outcry.

The Mikulski office press release written by a staffer and summarizing the stance of Mikulski, reads:

“She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it either.  As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski’s first responsibility was to prevent a government shutdown. That meant she had to compromise on many of her own priorities to get a bill through the Senate that the House would pass. She will continue to fight for a regular and timely Appropriations process and other valuable priorities, including food safety.”

Now the question is whether or not she is being sincere or simply performing PR damage control following the fact that the public is finding out about the severity if the issue.  Instead of arguing the reality behind the politics of the bill and whether or not it would lead to ‘government shutdown’ as she says, let’s look at her fruits regarding the GMO issue. First of all, my question is why did she not say anything before the issue got super hot in the media? Why did she not warn her citizens and the US at large about what was happening before she was a target?

Admittedly, and as her release states, she has supported the labeling of genetically modified fish — something that the FDA should do anyway without political pressure (but they won’t) through legislation. But what about the fight against Monsanto’s immunity? The reality is that multiple Senators are now being forced to answer for their actions thanks to serious outrage from the public and readers like you that genuinely just want to eat real food and prevent destructive corporations like Monsanto from receiving immunity against the law.

Even if some of the Senators are just covering their rear ends, the fact is that we do have a voice and we are forcing those responsible for passing corrupt legislation accountable.

This post originally appeared at Natural Society

Senate approves regulations to reduce abuse in ‘Obama phones’ program





  The Senate this week approved legislation establishing regulations for the Lifeline Program – a federal program administered by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The program, widely known as ‘Obama phones’, provides phone service for qualifying low-income individuals.

Sen. Rob Standridge, Senate author of House Bill 2165, said the bill would require that phone service providers participating in the program verify the eligibility of their customers. The measure would also limit recipients to one phone line. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission would enforce fines up to $10,000  per day per violation, established by the legislation.

“The state of Oklahoma doesn’t have a choice as to whether it participates in this program, but we should do whatever we can to ensure it is responsibly administered. Otherwise, it will only continue creating opportunities for fraud and abuse,” said Standridge, R-Norman. “By establishing meaningful guidelines at the state level, we can help adequately regulate the program, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. This is one instance where the state Legislature can do something to stem the tide of federal waste.”

Standridge noted that Oklahoma telephone companies YourTel America Inc., and TerraCom LLC recently agreed to pay significant penalties resulting from an FCC investigation related to their participation in the program. The FCC found the two companies failed to adequately document individuals enrolled in the program, resulting in numerous participants receiving duplicate wireless or landline services. The Oklahoman in February reported the two companies agreed to pay penalties totaling more than $1 million.
Underscoring the potential for abuse in the system, Oklahoma companies received $236 million in connection with the Lifeline program in 2012, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Rep. Jon Echols, primary author of HB 2165, said the bill would bring accountability to the program.

“This legislation gives the Oklahoma Corporation Commission some additional enforcement authority and creates badly-needed requirements for more information and verification of true eligibility from the phone service providers,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “There is documented abuse of the program from providers who have given out duplicative lines and not done enough to verify the continuing eligibility of their customers served by the program.”

House Bill 2165 was approved Tuesday by a vote of 41-0. The measure will now return to the House for further consideration.

Foreign Law Ban signed by Gov.



Legislation that would prohibit the application of foreign laws when the application violates either the Oklahoma Constitution or U.S. Constitution has been signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Under House Bill 1060, by state Rep. Sally Kern and state Sen. Gary Stanislawski, Sharia law could not be applied, for example, Kern said.

“The language of this new law is modeled on the laws of Tennessee, Kansas, Arizona and Louisiana, which have all stood without court challenge,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma voters approved a ballot question that singled out Sharia law by a 70-percent margin. That was ruled unconstitutional because it singled out Sharia law. This new law is written broadly in deference to the ruling.”

According to the law  “Foreign law” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. For the purposes of this section, foreign law shall not mean, nor shall it include, any laws of the federally recognized American Indian tribes or nations in this state or territory of the United States.

House Bill 1060, which passed by wide margins in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate, takes effect Nov. 1.

Oklahoma is #1


Oklahoma is #1 in the abuse of prescription medications with more of our citizens dying from RX overdose than car accidents; 125 million pain pills prescribed in 2009, alone. By 2011, addiction to painkillers had become so pervasive that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that Oklahomans 12 and older exceeded the national average for the consumption of painkillers for non-medical use by 232 percent.

“I first want to thank Senator Standridge of Norman for honorably representing his profession as a pharmacist and as a legislator, willing to meet in the center aisle for the sake of this important issue. Pharmacists are the first line of defense to insure that medications are available to those that need them while ensuring that those struggling with addiction are protected from self-destruction. Senator Standridge and I are working to preserve the good health of all Oklahomans and certainly not to punish anyone in need of health services,” said the bill’s House author state Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) upon the bill’s passage.

House Bill 1419 provides for real-time reporting to physicians by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs when prescriptions are filled by a licensed pharmacists. For those physicians using electronic patient medical records, OBN will send an email to trigger a red flag to appear in the right hand corner of the patients file when duplicate prescriptions are sought by that patient. Physicians using paper files will receive a notification by traditional post.

The bill represents three years of hard work for Morrissette’s office. Early opposition to the bill came from many sources. Ultimately, Morrissette wore down his detractors by educating them to the negative impact of RX abuse upon Oklahoma health outcomes, the stability of families and the economy.

“When you are 'Number 1 Worst,’ you are in a totally indefensible position. And, with these negative numbers, there isn’t a person in the state who hasn’t been impacted by RX abuse. Identifying those who  “doctor shop” in real-time provides for intervention early in the addiction scenario to immediately interrupt the process.  Next, we need to increase funding for in-patient treatment of addiction and to replicate other programs of drug counseling.

“I want to thank Dr. Terrill Hulson, MD , from Mercy Westbrook,  for his guidance and support.” said Morrissette.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Governor Mary Fallin for her signature.

Bill protecting the rights of Agritourism signed into law

A bill protecting the rights of Agritourism operators has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

House Bill 1638, by state Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha and Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, protects business owners in the Agritourism industry. It calls for a limited liability for Agritourism operators and protects them against injuries suffered during an Agritourism activity provided the venue is registered with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and a warning label is posted. It does not protect operators in cases of gross negligence or willful disregard of the guest.

“The signing of this bill is great for the small-business owners in the Agritourism industry in Oklahoma,” Rep. Biggs said. “This industry is filled with many family operations that are running a small business in the truest sense of the term. And what they have to offer provides Oklahomans with great resources to learn more about the agricultural economy of the state as well as provide new ways to enjoy their free time in a unique way. Ensuring these operators have this protection will mean these options will be available for us all for years to come.”

Now signed into law, it gives Agritourism operators peace of mind, said Biggs, knowing they can operate their venture without having to worry about finding affordable insurance and frivolous lawsuits which will only bog down the legal system and drain their bank accounts. Oklahoma has more than 380 registered Agritourism venues registered with the Department of Agriculture, including many wonderful venues that offer events such as hunting, trail riding, vineyard tours, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hay rides and farmers markets. 

“Agriculture is and will continue to be a cornerstone of the Oklahoma landscape,” said Biggs. “This new law will only help our farmers and business owners to share their way of life with everyone.” 

The law goes into effect Nov. 1.

School Emergency Laws signed by Gov


Emergency Drills

The measure requires that in addition to the two lockdown drills required in statute, school districts must conduct a minimum of eight safety drills. This must include two fire drills per school year. Each fire drill will be conducted within the first 15 days of each semester and must include a distinctive audible signal designated as the fire alarm. Schools must conduct two intruder drills each year for the purpose of mitigating injuries or death by executing a plan as an alternative to lockdown. Intruder  drills also must be conducted within the first 15 days of each semester. Schools must conduct two tornado drills per school year with at least one in the months of September and March. Administrators may determine the use of the remaining drills. Districts must documents each fire drill and keep the records for at least three years to be made available to the State Fire Marshal upon request. Districts also must document all other drills and file copies at the school, the district administrative office and the Institute for School Security Resources.

Oklahoma School Security Institute

SB 257 directs the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security to designate a division within the office as the “Oklahoma School Security Institute”. The Institute is to act as the central repository for the public and private elementary and secondary schools to contact for information on resources to enhance school security and assess risks and threats to school campuses. The Institute’s goals and objectives are to maximize school security training; assist and coordinate with school administrators in the development and implementation of safety drills; facilitate efforts to utilize any available programs or entities specializing in security issues; and create and coordinate any working groups when necessary to continue developing and implementing new strategies and techniques on school security. Allows the Institute to develop a telephone tip line for reports of activity that may compromise school safety.

Emergency Response Organizations

The measure establishes the date of November 1 by which schools, administration buildings and institutions of higher learning must provide the annual updated plans for protecting students, faculty and visitors from disasters and emergencies required by law. The measure specifies that the plans must be submitted in an acceptable format to the emergency agency, which may include police, fire, emergency medical services, sheriff and emergency management of the appropriate jurisdiction.

Firearms Reporting

SB 259 requires a school authority to immediately report to law enforcement the discovery of a firearm upon a student that is not a minor or upon any other person not authorized to possess a firearm on school property. The firearm is required to be delivered to law enforcement.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Outcry- Dream Theater Song


This is an amazing song!


Somewhere overhead
Distant thunder roars
The revolution has begun
The war to end all wars

As I welcome death
I hear the battle cry
Bullets fall like fire
Raining from the sky

The rebel in us all
Someday gets tired of being pushed around
But freedom has a price
The cost is buried in the ground

We suffered far too long
We've gathered now
Growing stronger
We will not be ignored
Any longer
Our anthem will guide us

Rise up, be counted
Stand strong and unite
Wait for the outcry
Resistance is calling tonight

Far too many years
Of chaos and unrest
Far too many voices
Brutally suppressed

We fight for what is just
For all that we believe
We fight till death or glory
Fight to be set free

The streets are bathed in blood
Time to step down and time to walk away
You'll never rule me now
Though you may stand upon my grave

You can look the other way
Or you can face the light
Although it seems so far away
Freedom's worth the fight

Rise up, be counted
Stand strong and unite
Wait for the outcry
Resistance is calling

Rise up, be counted
Stand strong and unite
Wait for the outcry
Resistance is calling tonight

The world watches on
While we risk our lives
Locked in a kingdom of fear
As our children die

Friday, April 12, 2013

Senate sends human trafficking bills to Gov.



The growing problem of human trafficking has resulted in Senate passage of two bills aimed at helping the victims of this crime. House Bill 1058 by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Sally Kern and House Bill 1067 by Sen. A.J. Griffin and Rep. Lee Denney were approved in the Senate on Thursday.
A crime that affects mainly women and children, the State Department has identified the United States as the #1 destination for child sex trafficking. With Oklahoma at the crossroads of I-35 and I-40, the state has seen a tremendous increase in this crime, with several notorious cases making headlines in recent years. Dahm said HB 1058 is intended to help survivors of human trafficking.
“It allows a charge to be expunged if that person was forced into prostitution as a victim of human trafficking,” said Dahm, R-Tulsa. “What happens to these victims is not their fault. They need to be able to have their record expunged in order to move on with their lives.”
Kern said the legislation was an important step forward in how Oklahoma deals with human trafficking.
“I think it is a necessary bill that will protect the victims of this crime as they seek to rebuild their lives without having the unnecessary burden of a criminal record,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City.
Griffin said HB 1067 is aimed more specifically at minor victims of human trafficking who are forced into the sex trade.
“It does several things—it requires peace officers to notify those victims of the services that are available and make sure the proper authorities with the Department of Human Services are notified. It also assumes that individuals who are minors involved in the crime of prostitution have been coerced to participate in that activity,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie. “They are survivors of a horrible crime and as such we need to help, not punish them.”
Denney explained it is important to recognize that when human traffickers force children and teens into prostitution, it’s the traffickers who are the criminals.
“I believe it is vital to protect our children who have been drawn into human trafficking and abuse,” said Denney, R-Cushing. “We need to protect them from prosecution and focus instead on restoring their mental and physical wholeness.”
Both measures now go to Gov. Mary Fallin for her approval.

Gun Control for Dogs


Forget the leash laws, we need gun control for our dogs. A background check may have exposed the dogs inability to to control their animal instincts.

The recent story of Gregory Lane Lanier, 35, who told police he thought the 9mm Beretta semi-automatic handgun on the floor of his pickup truck was unloaded when the black and tan English bulldog kicked it and caused it to fire.

Lanier was hit in his left leg and the bullet wound, patched up at a local hospital, was not serious.

This is not the first instance either. In 2011 a Utah bird hunter was shot in the butt after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat.

Box Elder County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Potter says the 46-year-old Brigham City man was duck hunting with a friend when he climbed out of the boat to move decoys.

Then in December 2011 a Florida man became the second hunter in the past two weeks to be shot by his own pooch when his bulldog, Eli, discharged a rifle into his leg.

In 2010 a hunter in California was shot by his dog. The victim was about 15 yards away, retrieving his decoys, when his female black Labrador retriever stepped on the gun.

Authorities said the dog disengaged the safety and hit the trigger at the same time, firing a shell with #2 shot. The man was struck in on the left side of his upper back. Accident, eh?

In 2008 in Tillamook Bay, Ore. at the start of duck-hunting trip a man’s dog jumped into the boat, setting off a 12-gauge shotgun.

The blast blew a hole in the aluminum boat before hitting Marcum, who is recovering from injuries to his legs and buttocks at Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

In 2007 a dog accidentally shot a Memphis man in the back. According to witnesses, the dog, a Great Dane, was playing in a front room when the "dog" knocked a gun off of a table. The gun discharged and the bullet ended up hitting the owner in the back.

The dogs seem to have a fondness for legs, butts and backs.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OK Home Bakery Act signed by Gov.


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Monday a bill that would allow home bakeries to operate without a food preparation license.

Home food establishments would be defined as businesses that earn less than $20,000 a year and produces baked goods for sale that do not contain meat or fresh fruit, under the House Bill 1094, which is entitled the Home Bakery Act of 2013.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Dustin Roberts, said he was grateful for the governor’s support.

“This legislation is really a nonpartisan bill that originated with a petition by Oklahomans,” said Roberts, R-Durant. “Small home baking operations do not need to follow the same rigorous standards as commercial kitchens and other food establishments that serve foods that might be highly harmful to the public. The legislation specifically requires the businesses that qualify for the exemption to avoid products that contain meat or fruit that could go bad and potentially be a health hazard. I think it is a great way to support small businesses in Oklahoma.”

House lawmakers approved the legislation unanimously in March. Senate lawmakers voted in favor of the bill 38-6.

Oklahoma 24/7 Sobriety and Drug Monitoring Program Act"



The “Oklahoma 24/7 Sobriety and Drug Monitoring Program Act", Senate Bill 143 allow any court, county attorney or city attorney to utilize the program as a condition of bond, sentence, probation, parole, or work permit. A court, county attorney or city attorney could require an individual who has been charged, pled guilty or been convicted of a crime in which the abuse of alcohol or dangerous drugs was a contributing factor in the commission of the crime, including but not limited to, driving under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs, to abstain from alcohol or dangerous drugs for a period of time and require the person to be subject to testing to determine the presence of alcohol or dangerous drugs. The person can be required to be tested at least twice a day at a central location or by continuous or transdermal alcohol monitoring by means of an electronic monitoring device, or by an alternate method consistent with the Act. The law enforcement entity within a jurisdiction is to collect the testing fees required by the rules of the agency. The law enforcement agency is to distribute the fees to participating vendors and to the place any remaining fee proceeds in the sobriety program account authorized by the rules of the law enforcement agency.
If an individual convicted of a second or subsequent offense of driving under the influence has been required to participate in the 24/7 program, the court may, upon the individual's successful completion of a court-approved chemical dependency treatment program and proof of insurance as required by law, notify the Department of Public Safety that as a participant in the sobriety program, the individual is eligible for a restricted probationary driver license.
If the individual fails to comply with the requirements of the program, the court may notify the Department of the individual's noncompliance and direct the Department to withdraw the
individual's probationary driver's license and reinstate the remainder of the suspension period.
Likewise, The Pardon and Parole Board, the Department of Corrections or a parole officer may condition parole for a second or subsequent violation of driving under the influence or may condition parole for any crime in which the abuse of alcohol or dangerous drugs was a
contributing factor in the commission of the crime.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Parole of Aging Prisoners Act not given committee hearing

elderly inmate

Thursday the chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee said he would hear the measure. House Bill 1056, by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel and Sen. Harry Coates which would have created the Parole of Aging Prisoners Act in an effort to address the costs associated with Oklahoma’s ever increasing aging population and prison overcrowding.

The measure would have authorized the Pardon and Parole Board to parole prisoners who are 65 years of age or older, who have served at least 10 years in prison or 1/3rd of the total term of imprisonment, who pose minimal public safety risks, and who are not incarcerated for an 85% crime. This bill would have excluded for the early release anyone who are subject to the registration requirements of the Sex Offenders Registration Act.

“The legislature is constantly talking about cutting the cost of government but when it comes down to it and we have the opportunity to save taxpayers millions like House Bill 1056 would have done, the bill is killed,” said Coates, R-Seminole. “These are senior citizens who, more than likely, are not a danger to society and yet we continue to spend millions keeping them locked up. I think if the members of the Public Safety Committee would have been allowed to vote they would have supported this great bill. Instead, taxpayers missed a perfect opportunity to save millions.”

According to the Department of Corrections, there are currently approximately 685 prisoners that this bill would have allowed to be considered for parole. It costs an average of $14,940 per year to incarcerate an inmate. This bill could have potentially saved the state more than $10 million per year.

The bill was originally assigned to the Senate Rules Committee, which is known as the committee where bills go to die but Sen. Coates was able to get the measure reassigned to the Public Safety Committee. The Senate Public Safety chairman assured the Senate Rules chairman it would be heard in the Public Safety Committee if reassigned but then Sen. Coates suspects was persuaded to kill the bill by the District Attorney’s Council, which was opposed to the measure.

“Parent Empowerment Act” Will Not Advance in 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers and parents who supported a measure that would have allowed parents to “trigger” major changes in their local underperforming schools are disappointed the bill did not receive more support in the House of Representatives. The measure will be laid over until the 2014 legislative session.
Senate Bill 1001, by state Senators David Holt and Jabar Shumate and state Rep. Jason Nelson, would have allowed a majority of parents in an underperforming school to sign a petition that would transition the school to a charter school or terminate the administrators.   
“It’s obvious that we have a lot more work to do, but the momentum is on our side,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “There is a growing coalition of parents and policymakers who are determined to ensure that the voices of our students and their parents are heard, so that is very encouraging. Parents want choice for their children. The parents are on the front lines; they know whether their local school district is failing their children or not.
“Blaming parents, as was done by an education organization recently, is not constructive – it’s wrongheaded. It’s ironic that opponents of the bill complained the law would create an adversarial relationship between parents and educators when a statement by a teacher organization pointed the finger at parents by saying ‘Letting parents have more control over the schools when they don't have control at home is not the answer.’   
“It’s important to remember that the bill only applies to ‘D’ and ‘F’ school sites. That negative and condescending attitude toward parents will create more division than this or any other legislative initiative at the Capitol, and I think it speaks to the need for programs like Senate Bill 1001.”
Under the measure, the option to terminate administrators would only have been available in Oklahoma or Tulsa counties. An underperforming school would be defined as a school that has received a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ for at least the last two years under Oklahoma’s new grading system, or a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ for two of the last three years, as long as the most recent grade was a ‘D’ or an ‘F’. The bill provided that if the parents were to choose the charter school option, the charter school would first serve all students in the existing attendance boundaries of the school.  
The measure was based on a concept that has been enacted in at least seven other states.
“Opposition to this bill has little to do with the merits of the policy, because anyone would tell you that a failing school could use the parent involvement and regulatory flexibility this bill facilitates,” said Sen. Holt, R-Oklahoma City. “Opposition to this bill has everything to do with power – power that some apparently don’t want to share with parents. The title of this bill is the ‘Parent Empowerment Act,’ and I guess there’s nothing that scares some people more.”  
Holt said the goal of chartering an underperforming school under the Parent Empowerment Act would be to provide the flexibility needed to improve student performance at the school in a manner led jointly by motivated parents and school district leaders. The process of creating a charter school outlined in the Parent Empowerment Act is designed to create a collaborative relationship between the parents and the school district, rather than an adversarial one.

“It is unfortunate for parents and children across the state that we have not found consensus on Senate Bill 1001,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “I am committed to working with other members of the legislature in the future to bring real empowerment to our parents.  I still believe that people support that which they help create; therefore, I hope that educators in the future will demonstrate better how to plan with and not for the parents and children they serve.”
Tulsa resident and parent Lauren Marshall made the decision to homeschool her children rather than allow them to attend the local middle school.  
“I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my job and have been able to dedicate the past five years to ensure my boys had a quality education,” said Marshall. “But very few parents – especially where I live – can afford to quit their jobs in order to be at home with their kids. What about Gaven and Reagan and Evan – real kids in my neighborhood that my own children play with? They deserve better than a ‘D’ or ‘F-rated’ school.”
Nelson, who filed a similar measure two years ago that did not even receive a hearing, said he is encouraged by the progress the bill has made, but that supporters need to put more effort into educating other lawmakers and other parents on the issue.
“We’re trying to make real changes for our communities of Tulsa by giving the parents the power to save their children in places where the schools have failed them,” said Pastor Joyce A. Cooper of World Won for Christ in Tulsa. “We need to keep on standing up for our kids and giving our families the power to make the changes they need. Our children are stuck in these schools with no options, and so it is a shame that this bill is not going to be heard. All we can do is press on for real power for our parents and communities.”
Holt also believes the bill will become law in the near future as long as lawmakers remember who the bill is designed to protect.
“Unfortunately, real parents have no voice in the Capitol, especially parents in the kinds of communities where this bill would do the most good,” said Holt. “That’s why we as legislators have to speak for them. Our job is not to protect failure. Our job is to empower our parents to make positive change, because parents are who we represent, and improvement is what we should demand. I hope that when this bill returns in the future, we’ll remember that.”
Last month, SB 1001 was approved in the Senate by a vote of 30-12. It can be considered in the House of Representatives in 2014.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013



Sometimes I feel like a cloud
Just quietly floating by
Distant and unnoticed
Occasionally catching an eye
There are sudden strong inflows
Between the cold and the warm
Building, flashing and thundering
For a moment an explosive storm
Then the energy is all released
No more in an excited state
Quickly again forgotten
To disappear and dissipate

Sometime just like the clouds
In search of the rare inflow
A chance to feel alive
And for a moment to show
Usually just slow in building
A new drop here and there
Just quietly floating by
In a land seemingly unaware
Compliments are few at best
Never personal just for work I do
Pouring all I have with purpose
Then fading off in the blue

© 2013

All Rights Reserved

James T. Garrett