The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 16, 2014

Bills filed for 2014 session include term limits

Tim Talley
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Some of the bills filed before Thursday's deadline to be considered by the 2014 Oklahoma Legislature look to fund storm shelters in public schools and cutting legislative pay.

Rep. Joe Dorman, a Democratic candidate for governor who's from Rush Springs, submitted the storm shelter measure in the wake of two deadly tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area last year.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, has said he wants to extend a generous tax break for horizontal drilling. Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger has said the tax breaks cost the state about $321 million last year and should be re-examined. Shannon has also said he supports term limits for members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and state appellate courts.

Other bills propose to cut legislative pay in half, limit the governor to one term and make various changes to the Oklahoma Constitution.

The deadline to file legislation passed at 4 p.m. The exact number of pending bills won't be known until Friday.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is seeking a second four-year term this fall, said in a statement that she looks forward to working with lawmakers "on measures that are focused on creating jobs, improving the state economy and eliminating government waste."

Lawmakers convened a legislative study on judicial term limits last year after they expressed frustration with a state Supreme Court decision that struck down civil justice reform legislation passed in 2009. The Legislature convened a special session in September to re-enact the legislation.

The study was requested by Shannon, who said he wants to make sure the system of state government checks and balances in Oklahoma's Constitution is working.

Changes to public pension systems are also expected to be a priority during the 2014 legislative session. Lawmakers are expected to consider a plan to shift newly hired state workers from their current traditional pension system to a more 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

Republican leaders also are pushing to consolidate the administration of the state's seven different pension systems.