Bills on taxes, undercover work passed

Tuesday, October 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Lawmakers resumed a special session on Tuesday by passing bills to prevent Oklahomans from paying state taxes on federal income tax rebates and to aid undercover work linked to the terrorist bombings.

The Senate voted unanimously for a bill ensuring that the $300 and $600 federal tax rebate checks issued this year will not be subject to state income taxes.

The House, meanwhile, approved a bill that authorizes Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks to issue phony drivers' licenses to military and civilian intelligence personnel.

Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, House minority leader, offered the measure in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He said the fake drivers' licenses would go to civilian or military intelligence personnel involved in covert operations overseas, such as in Afghanistan or other areas in the Middle East.

Ricks said he asked for the law change in the event drivers' licenses are needed to ``give cover to people traveling oversees, primarily in hostile countries'' as part of President Bush's war on terrorism. He said he did not foresee the false ID's being used for domestic investigations.

A couple of year ago, Ricks said he had to turn down a request for covert identity from a non-law enforcement agency. He said he was only authorized by current law to issue phony ID's to law enforcement officers involved in criminal investigations.

In other action, the House and Senate unanimously adopted a pair of resolutions expressing condolences to those affected by the terrorist attacks and support for actions by the federal government to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.

The House convened at 9 a.m. Tuesday for what had been envisioned as a one-day session focusing on passing legislation to resolve the financial problems of a trust fund for disabled workers.

But House Speaker Larry Adair, D-Stilwell, announced Monday that the session will last at least through Wednesday because negotiators had failed to reach an agreement tying reforms in the workers' compensation system to the trust fund bill.

Gov. Frank Keating had proposed changes in the work comp system.

As negotiations continued on the trust fund bill, about 100 disabled workers, some in wheel chairs and on canes, gathered in the south plaza area of the Capitol to protest failure of lawmakers to fix the trust fund problem.

The workers are facing a cutoff of their October disability checks if the Legislature does not act this week, said Rep. Danny Hilliard, D-Sulphur, majority floor leader.

Adair said it may be necessary to act separately on the trust fund bill because he did not want to rush through ``complicated'' work comp reforms without adequate consideration.

Lawmakers also approved language exempting earnings from the College Savings Act from federal taxes and clarifying a law enacted during the regular session that raised from $50 to $500 the amount required for filing felony charges in bogus check and minor theft cases.

Prosecutors said the change was needed because the law did not clearly state that crimes involving amounts between $50 to $500 were misdemeanors.