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One year ago, the first case of COVID-19 hit Oklahoma and schools had to shut down to protect the safety of students and staff. While most schools have returned to full in-person learning, some are still utilizing virtual learning. While pay for teachers and administrators is protected and guaranteed under current state law during epidemics and state emergencies, it is not for school support staff. Sen. Chris Kidd, R-Waurika, authored Senate Bill 807 to ensure the pay of these important school staffers is protected.

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In order to save taxpayers millions of dollars on a special election in the event of a future mid-term U.S. Senate seat vacancy, the Senate passed legislation Tuesday night to allow the governor to fill the seat by appointment. Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, is the author of Senate Bill 959, which would move the special election for the U.S. Senate seat to the next regularly scheduled statewide general election.

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Late Tuesday night, the Senate passed legislation to protect the annual leave of state employees who are unable to use it during a governor-declared emergency. Senate Bill 282, Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, will allow such leave to be carried over until the end of the next fiscal year following the emergency.

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A bill requiring school districts to provide suicide awareness and prevention training to teachers and staff every two years won unanimous approval from the full Senate on Tuesday.  Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, is the principal author of Senate Bill 21.

Floyd said data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the problem of suicide in young people has only gotten worse in recent years.

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Hundreds of Oklahoma students complete their college degree each year thanks to the financial assistance provided them through the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), a scholarship program that provides free tuition to state colleges and universities for certain qualifying students. Currently, students must be an Oklahoma resident, have a federally adjusted annual gross family income of $55,000 or less, and enroll in OHLAP in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade. Sen.

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The Senate unanimously approved a measure on Monday that would modernize county clerk services. Senate Bill 569, authored by Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa, would allow certified copies of county land records to be signed, notarized and recorded electronically.

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The Senate gave approval to the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act on Tuesday, which would preempt the entire field of legislation by any agency or political subdivision of the state to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of Oklahoma citizens.  

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The Senate has given approval to a bill clarifying and strengthening penalties for people who commit crimes during riots. Senate Bill 806, creating the Oklahoma Citizens’ Protection Act, by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, was approved Monday.

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Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, has won unanimous Senate approval for legislation to give law enforcement another tool to fight child predators. Senate Bill 980 would amend state law for obtaining a court order for a wiretap to include crimes related to child sexual exploitation.

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The full Senate voted to prioritize child safety on Monday by passing Senate Bill 339, which would require any child 17 years old and younger riding in the back seat of a passenger vehicle to properly wear a seatbelt. The measure is authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington.

The bill was one of many approved by the Senate last year, but stalled in the House due to the shortened session caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pederson re-introduced the bill this legislative session.

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