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Press Releases

Showing: February, 2000

Governor Keating's story about a mystery CEO allegedly criticizing Oklahoma college graduates is more fiction than fact, according to a state lawmaker who first questioned the authenticity of the Governor's story last month.

Senator Kevin Easley said that a letter written by a state college president indicates that the CEO story is false and the Governor knows it.

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Senator Stratton Taylor's proposal for a state tobacco trust fund will soon be heard by the Oklahoma State Senate. The bill cleared its first legislative hurdle at the end of last week, earning a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"I think there's a lot of support for the idea of setting up a special trust fund to hold a substantial share of the state's tobacco settlement money. I still view this legislation as a work in progress, but the positive reaction it has received thus far is encouraging," said Senator Taylor, Senate President Pro Tempore.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Two state Senators are asking questions about the funding priorities at the State Department of Mental Health. That's after the board created a new position for their former commissioner, while laying off more than 100 state employees at Eastern State Hospital.

The downsizing was part of a plan to contain costs at Eastern State Hospital. Seventy state workers will be forced to leave their jobs March 1, while 43 others will follow in July.

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For the second time in as many months, Governor Keating is being called on the carpet for making inappropriate comments about the state of Oklahoma.

According to a State Senate leader, the chief executive stepped over the line again yesterday when he referred to current day Oklahoma as "stupid and backward" because it had not yet enacted a right to work law.

"There he goes again," said Senate Majority Whip Keith Leftwich, borrowing a phrase popularized by former President Ronald Reagan.

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With veterans groups set to rally at the State Capitol Tuesday, State Senator Sam Helton renewed his call for Governor Keating to rescind his proposed cut to veterans programs, saying the Governor's office hasn't been able to justify its recommended 8 percent reduction in state funding.

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Statement by Senator Lewis Long,
Chairman of the Senate Business and Labor Committee

"I think the right to work supporters failed to make a compelling case that this kind of change would really help Oklahoma's economic development efforts. If anything, the testimony and presentations reinforced the belief that right to work is just a bumper sticker slogan that is more of a political football than it is a legitimate economic development tool."

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As part of a plan to enhance the state's rail service that kicked off last summer with the Heartland Flyer, northern Oklahoma may soon be the newest link to the national railway system, according to State Senator Paul Muegge, D- Tonkawa.

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A State Senator is urging Governor Keating to test his cost-saving ideas for school administration in Tulsa, noting that two districts in the state's second largest metro area are the perfect candidates for a pilot project.

In a letter to the Governor, Senator Jeff Rabon suggested that the state chief executive consider consolidating the administrative functions of the Tulsa Public Schools with the Tulsa Union Public Schools.

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Existing laws to ensure Oklahoma kids aren't subjected to lewd or indecent proposals will get a boost this legislative session, thanks to a bill co-authored by State Representative Scott Adkins, R-Broken Arrow and State Senator Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo.

House Bill 2349 would prohibit the use of an electronic device or computer to make inappropriate proposals to a child. The law currently prohibits lewd or indecent spoken or written proposals to children, but makes no mention of such proposals made through a computer.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Senator Brad Henry's legislation which would let voters decide whether school bond issues should be decided by a simple majority has passed its first hurdle. SJR 39 was approved today by the Senate Finance Committee.

Currently, school bond issues can only be approved by a super majority, which is three-fifths of all votes cast.

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Republican Caucus Agenda 2000

Senate Republicans put forward their legislative goals today for the 2000 Legislative Session with six major areas highlighted. The Republicans indicated strong interest in economic growth, quality education, tax relief, crime prevention, sound fiscal policy and family issues.

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Governor Keating has singled out Oklahoma veterans programs for one of the largest cuts in his proposed executive budget, a move that has surprised and angered a State Senator who oversees veterans affairs issues.

"Our veterans deserve the very best services we can provide them, but it's difficult to deliver quality care when Governor Keating is cutting the programs that they rely on," said Senator Sam Helton, chairman of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee.

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Agriculture producers may soon have a way to level the playing field with large corporate entities under legislation authored by Senator Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa.

Senate Bill 1075 would create the Agriculture Production Fair Practices Act, which would provide legislative intent, definition and explanation to those associated with agriculture. In basic terms, it means producers would have more say in their dealings with corporate farming giants.

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Citing his handling of Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, State Senator Larry Dickerson is asking the commissioner of Major League Baseball for advice in dealing with Governor Frank Keating and the inappropriate comments that he often makes.

Commissioner Bud Selig recently suspended Rocker for making a variety of offensive statements in a recent news interview. He also ordered the baseball pitcher to undergo sensitivity training.

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Even though no agreement has been reached on the ultimate use of Oklahoma's $2.3 billion tobacco settlement, the state needs to begin the process of structuring a special tobacco trust fund, according to Senator Stratton Taylor, the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.

In an effort to get such discussions underway, the Senate President Pro Tempore today announced that he has authored draft legislation that could ultimately be used as a vehicle to address the trust fund question.

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