Friday, February 20, 2009

Hello again, everyone! The Legislature reached a major deadline this week as we passed the date by which bills had to be approved by committees in the house of origin.

That means Senate bills had to be approved by Senate committees and House bills had to be approved by House committees. Any measure not approved by a committee in the house of origin is dead for the session, in theory. That does not mean, however, we won’t see it again this year.

There is a line in the movie “The Princess Bride” that describes what can happen with bills. The movie’s hero is thought to be dead by the audience and many of the characters. A healer of sorts lifts the apparently dead hero’s arm, drops it and says, “I’ve seen worse.”

Later the healer explains, “It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.” Certainly, those bills that simply were not heard in committee are “only mostly dead”; few bills are all dead at this point.

A bill that is very alive is one I mentioned in last week’s column, Senate Bill 697. The bill, requested by Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, creates a Children’s Cabinet in Oklahoma and was given unanimous approval by the Senate Rules Committee; it now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

With this bill, we hope to streamline programs leading to better services for Oklahoma’s children. With no additional cost to the state, we will get more for every dollar we invest in our children.

Another bill I wrote, unanimously approved by a committee, also focuses on protecting Oklahoma’s children. We all have memories of ice cream trucks making their way through our neighborhoods when we were kids.

In a simpler, more innocent time, no one feared ice cream vendors. Even today, music coming from those trucks draw children like magnets attracts iron. In today’s world, we parents have to be more cautious than our parents ever imagined.

Recently, in two states – Florida and New York – ice cream truck vendors were convicted of crimes against children. Just last summer, an ice cream truck vendor in California was discovered to be a convicted sex offender.

Senate Bill 1147 would set up a licensing process for ice cream truck vendors in Oklahoma and require criminal background checks on them. The bill would prevent registered sex offenders from being ice cream truck vendors, providing serious penalties for sex offenders found operating ice cream trucks.

The measure would make more certain that individuals who come in close contact with our children are not predators we need to keep away from our children. This would mean one less thing about which parents have to worry. The bill next will be considered by the full Senate, and I’ll keep you updated.

Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

1 comment:

Wayne Rohde said...

It has been a very difficult session but one thing is consistent. One man whose mission is to protect the children of Oklahoma.

Sen Gumm has made it his mission to reach out and protect our children from the evils of our society.

And he will continue to keep advancing Nick's Law, autism insurance coverage.

In these uncertain economic and political times, we need more statesman like Sen Gumm to be beacons in this storm.