Two Sharp ideas? Shawnee Republican pushes for insurance mandate on DUIs, stronger budgeting

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Republican state senator has filed two measures for the 2015 session which could bring significant changes to state government.

Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, has filed legislation to address Oklahoma’s high number of uninsured motorists especially those with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions. 

Senate Bill 260 would require an individual convicted of DUI to have valid auto insurance on file with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for at least one year after their conviction.

“We have a problem with people convicted of DUIs having no auto insurance. They have found a loophole in our law whereby they can buy auto insurance to get their tag renewed and then cancel the policy after one month. Others simply go purchase a new car and auto insurance under another name,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Hopefully, this bill will prevent DUI offenders from sneaking around the law and ensure they get and maintain the auto insurance that they are legally required to have.”

Under S.B. 260, the offender’s insurance company would be responsible for keeping an SR 22 Form on file with DPS whether the individual was convicted in Oklahoma or elsewhere. If DPS is notified by the insurance company that the individual has canceled their policy, the agency would notify the person that he or she has 10 days to demonstrate proof of continuous vehicle insurance or request a hearing to demonstrate insurance coverage. If the individual cannot show proof of insurance, DPS would revoke their registration and suspend driving privileges. 

Suspension or revocation will continue until the individual provides satisfactory proof of insurance. 

The individual will also be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $100. 

If someone’s registration is revoked within one year of a prior revocation a $300 reinstatement fee must be paid.

The measure makes it unlawful for a vehicle that’s registration has been revoked for lack of insurance to be re-registered in the owner’s name, the spouse, parent or child, or any member of the same household until insurance is obtained.

If an owner of a vehicle, registered or required to be registered in Oklahoma, is found driving or allowing someone else to drive without insurance and makes a false certification concerning insurance then he or she would be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person, firm or corporation that gives false information to DPS concerning someone’s vehicle insurance will also be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Earlier this month, Sen. Sharp submitted Senate Bill 189. That measure is intended, according to a staff release, “to increase accountability and transparency of taxpayer dollars through strengthening Oklahoma’s Performance Informed Budgeting (P.I.B.) system” through removal of Zero-Based Budgeting.

Each year, House and Senate appropriations subcommittees are required by law to hold budget and performance review meetings with all state agencies that they oversee. This bill will place increased emphasis on the performance review aspect of the meetings, Sharp says.

“When agencies are forced to account for why and how they’re spending every dollar, they typically discover that there are areas where they can cut back or simply reallocate funds to a different department. This system has led to significant cost savings for other states and it’s beginning to help ours as well,” Sharp said in the Senate staff release.

Sharp worked with Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones in crafting the bill.

“Performance informed budgeting ties government spending to measurable goals and outcomes so government can be more effective in how it deploys taxpayer resources during the budgeting process. This legislation is one of many steps the state must take to improve how budgets are built and results are tracked,” said Doerflinger.

Jones said the P.I.B. system will help legislators better understand the actual financial needs of agencies.

The bill also has the support of state Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, who commented, “Reform is a continual process. Today Oklahoma has the technology as well as public servants with the integrity who can implement a process of reform such as proposed by Senator Sharp.”

Sharp concluded, “This new budget system should guarantee to the public accountability and transparency for every dollar spent by our state agencies as well as let them know exactly what has or has not been accomplished with those funds,” said Sharp. 

Agency budget and performance reviews are posted on the Senate website .