Week 14 - Legislative Session Update

House Republicans Elect Rep. Charles McCall as Speaker-Designate

Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives elected state Rep. Charles McCall this week as the Speaker-designate for the 56th Legislature beginning in February 2017.

McCall, a banker from Atoka, would replace current House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman (R-Fairview), who is term-limited.

McCall currently serves as the chairman of the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation. He also currently serves as the CEO and Board Chairman of AmeriState Bank in Atoka. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Oklahoma and completed the banking program at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado.

McCall would be the first Republican Speaker from Southeastern Oklahoma. He represents House District 22 and was first elected in 2012. Prior to running for the House of Representatives, he served as Mayor of Atoka from 2005 to 2012.

After the November elections, House Republicans will hold a second election with the new members to select a Speaker-elect. Since voters handed Republicans control of the House in 2005, every Speaker-designate has been confirmed in the Speaker-elect race in November.

Measure Aimed at Feral Hog Population Headed to Governor

Legislation approved today by the Oklahoma Senate will help Oklahomans reduce the number of feral hogs in Oklahoma.

Senate Bill 1142, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Sean Roberts, allows the hunting of feral hogs day or night if the hunter has permission from the landowner.  Under the measure, a license will no longer be required. 

The legislation is supported by the National Rifle Association, Oklahoma Pork Council, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, OK2A and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. 

The Samuel Roberts Noble Research Foundation has estimated the feral hog population in Oklahoma to be as high as 1.6 million, with hogs verified in all 77 counties. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has reported that feral hogs can carry up to 30 different diseases.

The legislation was approved unanimously on fourth reading in the Senate and now proceeds to the governor’s desk. 

House sends governor legislation to improve alternative teaching certification

Legislation to improve the alternative teaching certification process was approved Monday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and heads to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 3025, by state Rep. John Paul Jordan, would allow for additional entry points for those wishing to pursue a teaching certificate through the alternative certification process. The measure directs the state education department to develop a matrix or rubric by which an alternative certification candidate’s work experience would be evaluated and aligned with a specific certification area.

The measure would allow those candidates with a terminal degree to pursue an alternative certification as long as their degree aligned to an area of certification. All alternative certification candidates must pass the certification exams and pass a background check before being certified. 

Unfortunately, a national teacher shortage has hit Oklahoma especially hard, Jordan said.

The legislation was approved on fourth reading and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Senate sends “guilty with mental defect” bill to Governor

The Senate this week approved legislation that will create a new defense for those who suffer from mental illness. 

Senate Bill 1214, by state Rep. Justin Wood, would modify the “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) defense in Oklahoma by adding a “guilty but with mental defect” and “not guilty by reason of mental illness” defense. The bill provides that anyone who has an antisocial personality disorder and is found guilty with a mental illness cannot use the NGRI plea and must complete the sentence for the crime. 

A plea of guilty with mental defect will result in the same sentence imposed on someone else convicted of the same crime.  Anyone found guilty with mental defect will be required to be examined by the state Department of Mental Health prior to release on probation.  Within 45 days of the examination, the department must make recommendations for treatment, which will serve as a condition for probation. The recommended treatment will be paid for by the probationer and failure to continue the treatment will be grounds for revocation of probation.  The probationer will also be required to file a psychiatric report with the probation offers and the sentencing court every 6 months during the probation period.

The legislation was requested by Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smothermon, following the 2012 high profile murder case involving Jerrod Murray.  The East Central University student planned and kidnapped fellow classmate, Generro Sanchez, and shot him multiple times. He later confessed that he wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone.   Under Oklahoma law, Murray was charged with murder but found not guilty by reason of insanity.  He is serving his sentence at the Oklahoma Forensic Center (OFC), the largest inpatient behavioral health facility in the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services system, until such time that he is found to not be a danger to himself or others.

The bill will next be considered by Gov. Fallin.  If signed, the new law will go into effect Nov. 1, 2016.

House Sends School Safety Measure to Governor

Legislation that would increase the safety of schools in light of the increasing incidents of active shooters was approved today by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Bill 2931, would streamline and increase the flexibility of the school safety drill process, emphasizing active shooter drills. It would also add the Oklahoma School Security Institute to entities that would receive reports on the drills. A drill would be required within 15 days of the beginning of a school year.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 72-6 on fourth reading and now proceeds to the governor’s desk.

 

Measure to criminalize “revenge porn” heads to the Governor’s desk

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, by state Rep. John Paul Jordan, criminalizes the unauthorized dissemination of intimate photos or video-usually after a relationship has ended-an act commonly referred to as “revenge porn.”

SB 1257 provides that a person commits a crime when they intentionally disseminate an image of another identifiable person who is engaged in a sexual act or is nude; they obtained the image under circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to know that the image was private; the image was disseminated with an intent to harass, intimidate, or coerce, and they knew or should have known that the dissemination was nonconsensual.  

The legislation exempts disseminations related to law enforcement investigations, reporting of unlawful conduct, or when the exposure or sexual act was committed in public or in a commercial setting.  In most instances, the act of “revenge porn” is committed by a person who captured or accepted the image in the context of a trusting relationship that has ended, at which time the person disseminated the image on the internet.  The measure also gives judges the ability to order the image be removed, if that is still within the power of the person who committed the act.  Someone convicted of the crime can be sentenced to up to one year in a county jail, and a fine.

SB 1257 was authored in the House by Rep. John Paul Jordan, R- Yukon.   If signed by the Governor, it would take effect November 1.

 

House sends ‘catfishing’ bill to governor

Legislation to give legal recourse to Oklahoma victims of “catfishing” was sent to the governor today by a vote of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Catfishing is an online scheme where a predator impersonates someone else in order to trick a victim into giving them personal data and information.

House Bill 3024, by state Rep. John Paul Jordan, the “Catfishing Liability Act of 2016,” would allow people whose photos or videos are stolen to request an automatic injunction against the person using them. It would also allow those victims to request monetary damages, including a $500 minimum award in punitive damages.

Jordan says that catfishing represents a legal gray area in Oklahoma and that judges would have little guidance on how to rule if such case ever came up in court.

Popularized by MTV’s show Catfish, Internet catfishing is where a person knowingly uses another’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness through social media to create false identities in attempts to lure victims into a relationship, normally romantic and sometimes financial.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 74-3 on fourth reading and now proceeds to the governor’s desk.

 

House Sends Debt to Society Act to Governor

Legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and sent on to the governor would help with county jail overcrowding by allowing counties to develop work release programs for nonviolent misdemeanor offenders.

House Bill 3039, by state Rep. John Paul Jordan, creates the “Debt to Society Act of 2016” and authorizes county sheriffs and district attorneys to lay out the plan to put an inmate to work instead of jailing them. The inmate has to be convicted or plea guilty to a nonviolent misdemeanor offense and a judge has to sign off on the order.

The measure establishes that an eight-hour work day equals one full day of imprisonment in a county jail. The sentence of imprisonment may be reduced by earned early release time as promulgated by the sheriff and approved by the district attorney and limits the amount of earned early release time to not more than a third of the total sentence. The measure provides civil immunity for county approved work release programs.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 90-0 on fourth reading after accepting Senate amendments. It now goes to the governor’s desk.