Revised marijuana bill advances
The second offense of possessing marijuana would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony, according to a bill that won approval Wednesday by the House Public Safety Committee. House Bill 1835 would make a third offense of possessing marijuana a felony. The bill's author, Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, originally sought to no longer make second and subsequent charges of possessing marijuana a felony in Oklahoma. Under current state law, only first-offense marijuana possession is a misdemeanor. The committee voted 14-0 to pass HB 1835; it now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine whether it will get heard by the full House.
Bill on guns for some felons fails
The Public Safety Committee failed Wednesday to pass House Bill 1775, which would have allowed those convicted of nonviolent felonies the right to have a gun. The panel then voted to kill the proposal for the next two years. Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, said his intent was to allow those who completed their sentences for nonviolent crimes to be able to possess a gun. Russ changed his bill to require nonviolent felons couldn't own a gun until six years after completing their sentence and removed those convicted of crimes involving drugs and firearms from being able to own a gun. But committee members said they still were concerned that felons convicted of bombing, possessing child pornography and child prostitution still would be able to possess a firearm.
Empty pension bills pass panel
Two bills that contained no substantial language passed the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee. Committee Chairman Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, said both bills — House Bill 2037 and HB 2038 — by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, are contingency measures to keep alive proposals to make changes to the state's pension system. “This isn't a blank check,” he said. But committee member Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, said members should at least know the intent of the measures. “There is nothing in this bill,” he said. Both bills advance to the House Calendar Committee, which will decide whether it will get a hearing in the full House.
Beer sticker bill is OK'd by panel
A measure that would make it illegal for anyone to put stickers on packages of low-point beer won committee approval Wednesday, but only after the bill's author agreed to water it down. House Bill 1934 originally would have made it a misdemeanor, but Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid, said he would remove that language. He said the measure resulted from a contract agency of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Department putting stickers on cartons of beer reminding adult purchasers of Oklahoma's social host laws and not to provide beer to minors. Mental Health Commissioner Terri White said the effort was funded by a federal grant. “I'm stunned that anyone would consider putting penalties on prevention providers that are out there trying to prevent underage drinking,” she said. The House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee voted 11-2 to pass HB 1934. It now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine whether it advances to the full House.