Published January 11, 2016 by Barbara Hoberock (Tulsa World)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Lawmakers have filed dozens of measures before the beginning of the Feb. 1 legislative session.
Lawmakers will revisit agency and school consolidation, attempt to make the state compliant with Real ID and consider measures that deal with guns and same-sex marriage.
Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, has a bill, Senate Bill 911, that would let school districts fine parents of children who misbehave. The fine could not exceed $50 and would be appealable to the local board of education, Sharp said.
Many schools do not use corporal punishment, he said. As a result, the teacher has no authority over the student, he said.
His bill is also an attempt to add another step before the student is expelled or suspended from school, he said.
Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, is the author of Senate Bill 865 that would make the state comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. The law creates minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators used fake documents.
In 2007, lawmakers passed a law saying the state would not comply largely due to privacy concerns. The state has received several extensions.
State officials have said failure to comply would result in alternative identification being required to fly on commercial aircraft, among other things.
Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, has filed a measure to eliminate all elementary and independent school districts and put them under a county district system.
Anderson said the measure, Senate Bill 906, would reduce duplication, but would not close any buildings. Money spent on administration could be redirected to the classroom, he said.
With that said, he doesn’t anticipate the measure will pass.
“The concern is you are consolidating school districts,” he said. “Common sense doesn’t usually stand a chance at the state Capitol.”
He said the bill is not a consolidation measure.
Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, has a measure, Senate Bill 934, that would combine smaller districts with other districts once the superintendent retires or resigns.
“If we ever do take a serious look at consolidation of administrative functions, I think attrition would be one way of doing it,” Loveless said. “If we really want to put more money in class, salaries and education, we should tip the scale a bit from the administrative costs to actual teacher costs.”
He said he doesn’t know if his bill will get a hearing or not.
Facing a budget hole of at least $900.8 million for fiscal year 2017, lawmakers are increasingly talking about consolidation of agencies. A number of measures have been filed to restructure agencies.
Loveless is the author of Senate Bill 873 that consolidates the Merit Protection Commission into the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Another Loveless bill, Senate Bill 895, consolidates the State Bond Advisor into the State Treasurer’s office.
Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, has a measure that would reduce the handgun license renewal and application fee to $25 from $85.
Anderson’s Senate Bill 903 would eliminate the renewal fee for those who serve in the military or were discharged under most circumstances.
Brecheen is also the author of Senate Bill 973, dubbed the “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act.”
“No taxpayer funds or governmental salaries shall be paid for any activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage,” the bill says. “No employee of this state or any local governmental entity shall officially recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state. No taxes or public funds of this state shall be spent enforcing any court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage. Brecheen could not be reached for comment.Follow @FortySixNews