Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan and
members of the Senate Democratic Caucus today announced their
“Agenda for a Safer Oklahoma” at the Oklahoma
“We believe government should be accountable for the
safety of its citizens – those people who work hard
and play by the rules and ask only that they be allowed the
chance to raise their children in a secure community,”
Morgan said. “Our agenda will do that by making sure
our prisons are adequately staffed and that our state law
enforcement agencies and our rural fire departments have the
resources they need.
“Additionally, we will look to strengthen laws to protect
our innocent children and plan for the future by investing
in our state’s water infrastructure.”
Senator Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, is chairman of the Senate
Appropriations Sub-Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary.
He announced Senate Democrats plans to boost funding for the
Department of Corrections.
The Senate Democrats plan, he said, will allow DOC to hire
150 new corrections officers and provide a $3,200 a year raise
for corrections officers to help the department retain its
highly trained staff. The plan also calls for a raise for
other DOC employees.
Corn is recommending a $21 million supplemental appropriation
for the Department of Corrections and a $40.5 million increase
in the department’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007.
Additionally the Senate Democrats plan calls for:
• Additional agents for the Oklahoma State Bureau of
Investigation; the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs and the Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Agency;
• Additional personnel for the Medical Examiners Office;
• More investigators for the Pardon and Parole Board;
• A pay raise for the officers and agents in all state
law enforcement agencies;
• And additional funding for the Council of Law Enforcement
Education and Training.
Corn also said an Interoperable Communications System to allow
emergency personnel from different agencies to communicate
in a crisis is also among the priorities in the Senate Democrats
“Agenda for a Safer Oklahoma.”
Senator Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, unveiled the Senate Democrats
plan for beefing up rural fire departments.
“Across our state we have seen both the devastation
caused by wildfires and the heroic efforts of our mostly volunteer
firefighters. Rural fire departments are the first-responders
when natural disasters strike rural Oklahoma and we must make
sure they have the resources they need to adequately protect
our homes, our lives, our schools and our businesses,”
The plan unveiled by Rabon, chairman of the Senate Appropriations
Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services,
• Doubling the annual operational grants for the state’s
875 rural fire departments;
• An immediate appropriation from the Rainy Day Fund
to allow these departments to replace worn out equipment that
these fire departments are being forced to use in this time
• And create a tax credit to reimburse small business
owners who employ volunteer firefighters and continue to pay
them their regular wages while they are away from work fighting
Another plank in the Senate Democrats “Agenda for a
Safer Oklahoma” is Caitlin’s Law, a measure that
will strengthen bail laws by requiring persons charged with
a violent crime to prove they are not a public danger before
they may post bail and beef up victim protection order (VPO)
laws in Oklahoma to mirror federal VPO laws.
The measure, contained in SB 1037 by Senator Susan Paddack,
would also allow for an electronic notification system known
as VINE, which stands for Victims Identification Notification
Everyday, to be put into place statewide in order to notify
victims when offenders move throughout the criminal justice
“It takes courage to turn tragedy into triumph. The
family of Caitlin Wooten has shown great courage since this
innocent teenager was taken from them in August. This piece
of legislation will honor Caitlin’s memory and in the
process prevent other Oklahoma families from suffering a similar
loss,” Paddack said.
Senate Democrats also support protecting and further developing
Oklahoma’s water infrastructure. Morgan said the caucus
will favor replenishing the Statewide Water Development Revolving
Fund with a $25 million appropriation from the state legislature.
He explained that the fund was created with $25 million in
1982. Since that time, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board
has leveraged the state appropriations and federal grants
it has received into $1.4 billion in loans and grants for
water and wastewater needs in the state.
But, Morgan said, funds in the Statewide Water Development
Revolving Fund have been fully committed as security for bonds
issued to fund water and wastewater loans.
An additional $25 million appropriation to re-capitalize the
Statewide Water Development Revolving Fund will allow it to
continue to assist communities that will need an estimated
$5.4 billion for water and wastewater projects over the next
20 years, the Senate leader said.
Senate Democrats also support the $6.5 million statewide water
plan and funding for a $2.5 million for a study of the Arbuckle-Simpson
For more information contact:
President Pro Tem's Office - (405) 521-5605