More than 2,000 bills await Oklahoma legislators in 2005

Friday, January 21st 2005, 4:58 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Loud boats would be out and front license plates would be in under bills filed in advance of this year's session of the Oklahoma Legislature.

Impostors in military uniforms would face felony charges and people would be barred from using food stamps to buy soda pop and candy bars.

A record 1,052 bills were filed in the Senate by Thursday's deadline, while the House will deal with 1,089 separate pieces of legislation.

While special-interest requests and appropriations bills make up a large number of the measures, there are a few unusual bills among those filed this year and others that mark a significant change in public policy.

Oklahomans would be required to place both front and rear license plates on their vehicles under House Bill 1784, by Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa.

"Well, that will be another 2.8 million tags that we'll have to produce," said Paula Ross, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Tibbs' bill does not provide for any cost increase for the additional tag.

Oklahoma has required just one license plate -- affixed to the rear of the vehicle -- since 1944, when a steel shortage prompted a change from the two-plate system, Ross said.

Specialty license plates are the target of another bill -- Senate Bill 907, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman.

The bill targets the growing number of specialized tags recognizing everything from square dancers to agriculture awareness. It would require any specialty tag to have 250 recipients pay for the plate up front before it was produced.

"We've got to do something to rein in the proliferation of specialty license plates," Balkman said. "I know it's very difficult to say no when your folks back home ask you to carry a bill to recognize your local marching band or square dance club. This would remove the legislature's ability to pass license plates and make it a purely administrative function."

Ross said the Tax Commission currently manufactures nearly 100 specialty plates.

Balkman and Jolley take aim at recipients of food stamps with Senate Bill 900, which prohibits the use of food stamps to purchase candy bars and soda pop.

"I've got no quarrel with food stamps, I think it's a great program," Balkman said. "But there are few things more irritating to me than when I'm standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front of me is using food stamps to purchase candy bars and snack food. Those are taxpayer dollars."

It would be a felony for an imposter to wear a military uniform under Senate Bill 777 by freshman Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton. The measure also targets people sporting military medals they are not authorized to wear.

"These are people who show up at events and try to pass themselves off as ex-military, or who pose as military personnel to raise funds for an unworthy cause," Barrington said. "It's kind of a disgrace to the uniform."

Loud motorboats are the subject of another bill by a freshman lawmaker -- House Bill 1328 by Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. Under the bill, boats manufactured, sold, or used in Oklahoma could not exceed a specified decibel threshold.

"I can't imagine being at the lake, where most people go to relax and have some solitude, and having to deal with that," McDaniel said. "If it's something as simple as a muffler you can put on it, we thought we'd see what we can do."