BY JOE DORMAN
As we proceed through the session, I wanted to provide you with some information on the bills I am authoring for Senators. Each piece of legislation requires an author from both bodies, so these are the bills I am currently carrying for my colleagues across the rotunda.
Senate Bill 40 - This is legislation filed by Senator Tom Ivester, D-Sayre, one of my colleagues with whom I overlap districts in Caddo County. This bill would allow for persons who are participating in a charity event, or any spectators, attendees or workers, including but not limited to a walk, run, biking event, or other such programs, or sponsored or organized by a nonprofit entity or organization to have a waiver for fees in the Wildlife Conservation Passport. Sponsors must provide written notice of the date and approximate numbers of expected persons participating in the activity no less than 20 days in advance and must be sanction by the Oklahoma Departmen of Wildlife;
Senate Bill 80 - Authored by Senator Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, this would allow, upon written approval to each county election board, the authorization to begin counting absentee ballots prior to the close of the polls on Election Day. The intent is to reduce the amount of work done in the county election boards so they can focus on collecting the data from each precinct. The results of the count on these ballots received early must remain confidential until polls officially close on Election Day;
Senate Bill 276 - Legislation submitted by Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, another colleague with whom I overlap constituents, would allow for agents of physically incapacitated citizens registered to vote to request absentee ballots in person for the voter. Currently, those applications are only accepted by mail, fax or telegraph. The person serving as an agent cannot be related to a candidate within three degrees of family relationship or employment to a candidate on the ballot, must be of the voter's choosing, must be sixteen years of age and can only serve as the agent for one voter;
Senate Bill 277 - Another bill authored by Sen Bass, would allow the county election boards to appoint volunteer inspectors, judges, clerks and counters who shall not receive the compensation required by law of those currently designated for those positions. The intent is to help expedite the time a voter spends in line by allowing more people to assist with the voting process. The volunteers would be sworn under oath to serve in a manner which would not influence on how voters cast their decisions; and
Senate Bill 877 - Filed by Senator Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, could allow the State Board of Education to waive the retention grade point average requirement for college grade point averages for those individuals who have two years of relevant private sector or military experience and are seeking to teach mathematics, science, special education or foreign language if there is a shortage declared for teachers in these fields.
I also want to congratulate two different groups from the district for their actions this past Friday. I had the opportunity to serve as a chaperone for the 7th and 8th grade model legislation day for the YMCA Youth in Government program. I worked with Liz Taylor, the Grady County 4-H Extension Educator, to prepare the students for the conference and they excelled in their presentation of bills and the questions and debate brought up on other pieces of legislation. Special congratulations go to Seth Hagler as he was selected as the outstanding delegate for the conference and I expect each of these students to have a productive future in this organization which teaches the legislative process.
The other initative I want to recognize is the effort made by General Mark McDonald and his team at Fort Sill to honor Viet Nam Veterans. They set up a ceremony and lunch to recognize these individuals, and it was emotional, moving and exactly what was owed to those who served our country in the armed forces during this era. I cannot express my appreciation enough for this endeavor and I wish my brother-in-law, who served during this time, was still with us so he could have also received the thanks he was due.