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A bill to restrict the public's access to police videos from dashboard and body cameras passed the Oklahoma state Senate and is headed to the governor's desk.

The Senate voted 44-2 on Thursday for the bill that adds dozens of new exemptions to the state's Open Records Act for law enforcement entities.

Under the bill, police and sheriffs will be allowed to withhold from the public videos that depict deaths or acts of violence, unless such acts were committed by a law enforcement officer.

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What Budget Drama’s End May Mean For Key State Services

May 23, 2015
State Reps. Elise Hall (far right) and Katie Henke (center) applaud as the state House adjourns sine die Friday afternoon.
M. Scott Carter / Oklahoma Watch

The 55th session of the Oklahoma Legislature adjourned for the year late Friday afternoon, quietly ending four months’ worth of fighting over money, morals and museums.

For most of the session, a shadow hung over everything: a $611 million budget hole. 

Lawmakers chose to adjourn the session a week early, just days after they wrapped up work on the state’s $7.2 billion budget.

The budget cut funding to career and technology education, higher education and transportation. At the same time, more funds were steered to mental health services, public safety and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Even with budget hikes, however, key agencies said they would likely have to cut spending.

In a move that surprised many, the Legislature approved a $25 million bond issue for the beleaguered American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City and a second $25 million bond issue for a museum of popular culture in Tulsa.

Lawmakers also debated issues such as same-sex marriage.

The shrinking pool of money available for appropriation quickly became the session’s central theme.

In February, after the Board of Equalization certified a funding estimate millions below the 2014 prediction, lawmakers went into damage-control mode. They warned agency heads little money would be available for next year.

“We’ve been telling them all session there would be cuts,” said Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Moorison, vice-chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

By May, agency directors were convinced.

The Senate worked late into the night Friday and early Saturday, but still failed to agree on extending government surveillance programs under the USA Patriot Act before the Memorial Day holiday.

Lawmakers blocked votes on both a House-passed bill and a short-term extension of the Patriot Act provisions that allow government surveillance programs.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says lawmakers will try again on May 31, the day before the provisions expire.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Chamber
http://www.oklegislature.gov/

The Oklahoma Legislature has adjourned the 2015 legislative session one week earlier than is required.

The presiding officer of the Senate dropped the gavel shortly after 3 p.m. Friday and two hours later the House also adjourned sine die, a Latin phrase that literally means "without day."

The Oklahoma Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn by the last Friday in May, but lawmakers rushed to complete their work this week to finish before the Memorial Day weekend.

Former state Rep. Randy Terrill
Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the bribery conviction of former state Rep. Randy Terrill and denied an appeal by former Sen. Debbe Leftwich.

Terrill — a Republican — was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison for offering Leftwich — a Democrat — an $80,000-a-year job at the state medical examiner's office if she would not run for re-election in 2010 so a Republican could seek the seat. Leftwich was convicted of accepting a thing of value to withdraw as a candidate and was given a one-year suspended sentence.

An artist's rendering of the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) in Tulsa.
Oklahoma Historical Society

One day after failing to pass a $25 million bond proposal to build a new museum in Tulsa, the Oklahoma House reversed course and narrowly passed a plan to build the facility dedicated to the state's icons of popular culture.

The House voted 51-40 Friday to approve the bond issue, one day after the same measure fell seven votes short of passing. A bill needs 51 votes to pass in the House.

It now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for consideration.

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