The measures are among 1,934 bills and 71 joint resolutions filed by members of the House and Senate before Thursday’s deadline for filing legislation for consideration during the four-month legislative session that begins on Feb. 6.
House members filed 962 bills and 26 joint resolutions to debate and vote on during the legislative session, legislative staffers said Friday. That’s down from the 1,168 bills and 41 joint resolutions that were filed before the 2011 session.
In addition, 965 House bills and 63 House joint resolutions that remained pending when lawmakers adjourned the 2011 Legislature in May are still alive and eligible for consideration, officials said.
Members of the Senate filed 972 bills and 45 joint resolutions prior to this year’s filing deadline — nearly identical to what was filed last year in the Senate. Another 753 Senate bills and 41 Senate Joint Resolutions have been carried over from the 2011 session.
Lawmakers must adjourn the upcoming legislative session by May 25.
Anti-abortion lawmakers filed a measure that places new guidelines on abortion providers. Similar restrictions that have received wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate in recent years are being challenged in state court.
A measure filed by Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, would require abortion providers to use a fetal heart rate monitor on the fetus of a woman who is at least eight weeks pregnant and make the heartbeat of the unborn child audible before an abortion is performed.
The preface of the bill, titled the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, says the presence of a fetal heartbeat may be meaningful to women contemplating abortion.
In October, a state judge temporarily blocked a new state law designed to reduce the number of abortions by restricting the ways in which doctors can treat women with abortion-inducing drugs. In 2010, legislation that would require women seeking abortions to first have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus was also blocked. Both cases are still pending.
Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, filed abortion-related legislation regarding the disposal of aborted human fetuses. It reads: “No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.”
Shortey did not immediately return telephone calls to his office and home seeking comment on the legislation.
Four senators jointly filed a bill that would lower the Oklahoma income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 2.25 percent in 2013 and then gradually lower the rate to zero by 2022. The bill is based largely on a study conducted last year by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and econometrics firm co-founded by economist Arthur Laffer, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan.
Supporters maintain the initial income tax cut would be offset by cuts in nonessential spending and the elimination of most personal tax credits, exemptions, deductions and exclusions. The balance would be offset by revenue growth from increased economic activity.
Alex Weintz, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, said Fallin has said she supports reducing the income tax but that it is too early in the process to know if she will support the tax cut measure. Weintz said Fallin supports “responsible reductions” in the income tax rate until it is eventually eliminated.
Propping up the state’s underfunded pension systems will be a legislative priority in 2012 for the second straight year. They include a measure filed by Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, which would restructure the state’s three pension systems for firefighters and law enforcement personnel.
Last year, lawmakers targeted the $16 billion unfunded liability in the state’s public pensions with legislation that increased the normal retirement age for new state workers from 62 to 65 and mandated that any cost-of-living adjustments for retirees be fully funded. Officials say the bills reduced the pensions’ unfunded liability by $5 billion.
A related measure filed by Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, calls for a $165 million appropriation to the Teacher’s Retirement System to pay for a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers.