Senator Dossett
Lobbyists watch Thursday at the Oklahoma Capitol as votes trickle in on SJR 68, which would allow the public to decide on modernizing Oklahoma's liquor laws. The measure passed 61 to 30. (William W. Savage III)

It’s nice to see that, on a deadline week for the third reading of bills, Oklahoma lawmakers can still find time for some legislative monkeyshines.

To wit, freshman Sen. J.J. Dossett (D-Sperry) had his first-ever bill heard on the floor of the House Wednesday. Co-authored with Rep. Brian Renegar (D-McAlester), HB 2249 would make it a misdemeanor offense for anyone who “tears down, damages, or removes any traffic-control devices during a flooding event.”

Initially, the voting board lit up with all red lights, indicating across-the-board no votes, but the bill eventually passed Wednesday, 41 to 6. The razzing of a freshman legislator is something of a tradition.

Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen. On Thursday, they worked until about 11 p.m.

FTW: Wine by mail and modernization

In a coup for the state’s burgeoning wine industry, HJR 1002 would allow vintners to ship wine to of-age adults living inside or out of Oklahoma who have visited their winery in person. A fiscal impact report cites a “potential minimal increase” in sales and excise tax collections with no additional cost projected for the tax commission. Support was unanimous in the Senate but contested in the House.

Relatedly, HB 2756 allows the ABLE Commission to issue permits at $100 a pop for the direct shipment of wine and sets a limit (24 nine-liter cases) on how much wine can be shipped to one Oklahoma resident for personal use. Permit issuance and renewals could generate up to $3,000 in annual revenue.

Last, SJR 68, which will place a ballot question in front of voters in November, passed the House 61 to 30 late Thursday afternoon as the deadline for third readings loomed. The measure calls for several Constitutional changes that would allow convenience and grocery stores to sell cold strong beer and wine.

FTW: Criminal-justice reform bills advance

Perhaps fittingly on Wednesday, the Senate approved four House bills related to reforming Oklahoma’s criminal-justice system, which NonDoc reported on back in March.

  • HB 2472 grants District Attorneys greater latitude in charging crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies, depending on the circumstances (unanimous Senate approval);
  • HB 2479 reduces sentencing maximums for drug-possession charges; Sen.s Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) and Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) were the only naysayers;
  • HB 2751 raises to $1,000 the minimum value for certain property crimes to be considered felonies; Sen.s Randy Bass (D-Lawton),  Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate) and Sykes voted against this measure;
  • and HB 2753, which widens the availability of drug courts as a potential avenue for some offenders; Sen. Crain was the lone dissenter.

The four bills now head to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk. Let’s hope no one hides all her pens from her.

Tidbits from the third-reading deadline week

Opioid antidote: Perhaps in recognition of Oklahoma’s absolutely unacceptable rate of opioid-related deaths, an amendatory measure would allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone – an emergency treatment for opioid overdose – without a dispensing protocol. A prescription is not required.

Hard stance on revenge porn: SB 1257 would make a misdemeanor out of the non-consensual posting of pictures of people either having sex or with their privates exposed online. Also known as “revenge porn,” second offenses would be felonies punishable by “at least” one year in prison and a fine up to $25,000. Sen. Barrington and Sen. Halligan voted against this.

The Catfishing Liability Act of 2016: Related to the above in terms of 21st century legislation for 21st century problems, HB 3024 establishes courses of action for victims of online catfishing (which involves elaborate online forgeries and impersonations, basically) and sets minimum fine of $500 for damages.

18 and up for the cancer coffin: A new law would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to use a tanning device at a tanning facility, among other new and related tanning laws contained in HB 1471. The House hotly contested this bill 55 to 42 in early March, with opposition cooling 27 to 14 in the Senate.

Knife party: SB 1159 removes dagger, bowie knife, dirk knife and sword cane from the list of items which are declared as unlawful to carry about one’s person. “Blackjack, loaded cane … and metal knuckles” remain illegal. It’s en route to Gov. Fallin’s desk.