Teacher bonus bill is withdrawn
An effort to require the state to pay the $5,000 stipends for public school teachers attaining National Board Certification for the upcoming fiscal year and for the next 10 years is in jeopardy after Rep. Ann Coody withdrew her measure Thursday, the deadline for Senate-originated bills to get a hearing in the House. The action by Coody, R-Lawton, doomed Senate Bill 1879. She said after Thursday's session she didn't know whether she could find another bill that could be used to advance her proposal. SB 1879 would have replaced a section of state law that says the bonus payments will be made only if the funds are available. Legislators in 2010 placed a moratorium on teachers getting National Board Certification. Coody withdrew SB 1879 from consideration after she failed to get her bill changed that would have eliminated the bonus for teachers not already in the program. Lawmakers last month passed and the governor signed a supplemental funding bill to pay for the teacher bonuses this fiscal year. Legislators last year appropriated a lump sum to the state Education Department; the Board of Education did not award the bonuses because of a $100 million cut in state funding. SB 1879 would have required the state to pay bonus payments to teachers already certified for the number of years remaining on the 10-year National Board Certification.
Designer drugs get new penalties
The House passed a measure Thursday that would result in synthetic drug manufacturers and dealers facing first-degree murder charges for fatal overdoses. Senate Bill 987 also would allow first-degree murder charges if someone dies as a result of the manufacturing of an illegal substance. Under the legislation, deaths resulting from the manufacture or distribution of a synthetic drug could result in felony charges for the drug dealer or manufacturer. The House voted 89-1 to pass SB 987. It now heads for a conference committee.
Debt-reduction measure wins OK
The House voted Thursday for future “spillover” funds to shore up the state's pension systems. Senate Bill 1264 would provide that 30 percent of spillover money go toward reducing the debt of the pension systems. Spillover money is money left over after the required surplus funds are deposited in the state's savings account, the Rainy Day Fund. Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, House author of SB 1264, said it's rare when money comes in above the amount required to go into the Rainy Day Fund. It would happen about twice a decade, when the state would experience a booming economy. Once all pensions systems are funded at 80 percent or more, the same share of spillover funding would be used to reduce the state's other indebtedness. SB 1264 passed 76-12 and now will go to a conference committee for consideration.