Parole bill fails to get hearing
A measure that would have allowed state prisoners 65 and older to request a parole hearing failed to get a hearing by Thursday's deadline for a Senate committee. House Bill 1056, by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, would have allowed elderly prisoners to be able to request parole after completing 10 years or one-third of their prison sentence.
Sen. Harry Coates, the Senate sponsor of HB 1056, said he was disappointed it did not get a hearing by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Coates, R-Seminole, said the measure was intended to address the costs associated with Oklahoma's ever increasing aging prison population and prison overcrowding.
“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,” he said.
About 685 prisoners would have been affected by the bill, according to the Corrections Department. It costs an average of $14,940 per year to incarcerate an inmate. McDaniel said older prisoners tend to cost the state more than other inmates because they have special needs that other prisoners don't have and their health care costs are higher.
Teacher background bill cleared
The House passed a bill Thursday that would keep full-time and substitute teachers from having to provide a national criminal history background check if the teacher has a copy of a background check that was done within five years. The teacher also would have to provide a letter from the previous school district that the teacher left in good standing. Senate Bill 244 passed 53-32. It now goes to the governor.
Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau
Oklahoma recognized for conservation efforts
Oklahoma has been ranked first in the nation in controlling harmful nutrients in the state's streams and rivers. State Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese and state Environment Secretary Gary Sherrer made the announcement Thursday as part of Agriculture Day activities at the Capitol. It's the second year in a row Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 and the fourth year for the state to rank in the top 10 states.
Michael Mcnutt, Capitol Bureau