State worker bonus plan moves on
The House passed a bill Tuesday that would authorize a $1,000 performance-based bonus to state employees who haven't received a raise in two years and conduct a study of state employee compensation. House Bill 1717 passed 91-4. It now goes to the Senate. Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the author of the bill, said the bill's intent is address understaffing caused by low pay in areas such as corrections, public safety and child welfare. The one-time bonus of $1,000 is an incentive to help keep critical employees, she said.
Bill would ease license renewals
The House passed a measure Tuesday that would make it easier for people to renew their drivers' licenses after they expire. House Bill 1082, by Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, would allow an expired license to be used as proof to obtain a new license for up to a year. Oklahomans now have 30 days after the date of expiration to renew their license; after that they must provide a birth certificate to obtain a new license. Ownbey said the original intent of the law was to prevent fraud, but it unnecessarily created a hardship for individuals who had already proven who they were but simply needed to renew their license after it had expired. HB 1082 passed 90-3. It now goes to the Senate.
Senate OKs drought funding bill
A measure that would provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers during droughts passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday. Senate Bill 996, by Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, would create the Emergency Drought Protection Special Fund. Justice said Oklahoma is in one of the worst droughts in state history. Many farmers and ranchers have lost crops and been forced to sell livestock because there simply isn't enough water to maintain them, he said. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission would maintain the fund which would consist of funds appropriated to it. Money from the fund could be spent only when the governor declared a drought emergency to exist. SB 996 passed 46-0. It now goes to the House.
Pittman to return tobacco money
Rep. Anastasia Pittman said she is returning campaign money received from a major tobacco company and is “respectfully” encouraging other lawmakers to do the same. The Altria Group Inc.'s political action committee made an unsolicited $250 contribution to Pittman's 2012 election campaign, she said. The Altria Group, previously known as Philip Morris, is the largest tobacco company in the U.S. “With all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, we need to recognize tobacco company money given to our campaigns for what it really is — blood money,” said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City. “Tobacco companies survive by addicting young people to deadly products.”
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU