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Press Releases

Showing: March, 2001


OKLAHOMA CITY - Senate Appropriations Chairman Kelly Haney said although he agreed with Governor Frank Keating and others who argue a more thorough examination of agency budgets is needed during the appropriations process, there are agencies that continue to be under funded each year. Senator Haney said the Oklahoma Arts Council is one of those agencies.

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A controversial consultant to Governor Keating's state marriage initiative is under scrutiny again - this time for receiving $716,000 from state agencies headed by Health and Human Services Secretary Jerry Regier.

State records indicate that agencies controlled by Regier cut numerous checks to Mary Myrick's public relations firm over a 19-month period. The largest payment came from the Office of Juvenile Affairs last year when it shelled out $400,000 to Myrick over a span of just 11 days.

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The leader of the State Senate is applauding Governor Frank Keating for agreeing to support the Texas Plan - an initiative that would allow voters to decide whether Oklahoma should scrap its current tax code and replace it with an exact duplicate of the Texas tax system that levies no taxes on income or grocery purchases.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"I had hoped that Governor Keating would take a more open-minded approach to the Texas Plan instead of injecting partisan politics into the debate. That's one of the main problems with this building. Elected officials tend to criticize ideas, not because they don't like them, but because they were generated by someone from a different political party. I think we should ignore party labels and have an open and honest debate about the Texas Plan."

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The leader of the Oklahoma State Senate wants voters to decide whether Oklahoma should scrap its current tax system and replace it with the one used by Texas - a state that has no income tax or sales tax on groceries.

Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor has proposed drafting what he calls the "Texas Plan" - a series of constitutional amendments and statutes that would allow Oklahoma to adopt an identical replica of the Texas tax system.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"I'm pleased that Governor Keating signed the supplemental appropriations, but it is disappointing that it took him so long to recognize the importance of the emergencies. If he had just exercised some leadership in this process, the supplemental measures would have been approved two weeks ago. There would have been no need to send out cut-off letters to
thousands of health care recipients across the state or delay other emergency funding actions."

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OKLAHOMA CITY - With the Oklahoma State Senate, guests and members of the public looking on, another original painting depicting a key historic event in Oklahoma history was dedicated today during a ceremony in the Senate chamber.

The painting, which is seven-feet high and eleven-feet wide by award winning Oklahoma artist and illustrator Mike Wimmer, depicts the Osage Treaty of 1825, and will hang near the entrance of the State Senate chamber.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - When Oklahomans and visitors from other states come to the State Capitol, not only will they be able to enjoy numerous original works of art, they'll also be able learn something of the history of Oklahoma through those paintings and sculptures. That's according to Senator Charles Ford, President of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. The organization will dedicate another such work of art during a ceremony Monday, March 26, 1:45 p.m. in the State Senate Chamber.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - In the wake of more school shootings across the nation, the State Senate has approved legislation aimed at children who make violent threats against classmates and school employees, including kids who create so-called "hit-lists."

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Statement by Senator Cal Hobson,
Vice-chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee

"Governor Keating can't be a super legislature until he shows he can actually do the job of governor, and he hasn't done that yet. We've tried to meet with him for weeks and weeks to discuss budget needs and priorities, but for the most part, he's been absent without leave, just as he is almost every week of every legislative session."

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The State Senate has taken action to address a variety of emergency needs in Oklahoma, passing a general appropriations bill Tuesday that contains funding for heating assistance for the elderly, nursing home inspections, public education and health care, among other things.

Republican lawmakers blocked the emergency funding last week, but the latest action ensures that the money will be appropriated if and when Governor Keating signs the legislation.

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A consultant to Governor Keating's state marriage initiative is billing the taxpayers for reading books, watching videos and performing other questionable tasks, according to the invoices she has submitted to the Department of Human Services.

Senator Kevin Easley, a state lawmaker who has criticized the contract and called for its suspension, said the bills submitted by Mary Myrick's firm are outrageous.

"It's crazy to make taxpayers pay someone to sit down on the couch and read a book or watch a video. I'm surprised they didn't bill us for popcorn," said Sen. Easley.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation aimed at protecting students from inappropriate relationships with teachers or other school employees is awaiting House consideration after being approved by the full Senate.

Senate Bill 716, written by Senator Jonathan Nichols would raise the age of consent specifically for situations dealing with students and their teachers or other school personnel.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor,
Senate President Pro Tempore

"Unfortunately, what Governor Keating has done today will do nothing to stop program cuts at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Simply advancing next month's appropriation does not give the OHCA the legal authority to overspend its budget. The OHCA has confirmed that fact. It will still have to make cuts and those children and vulnerable Oklahomans that Governor Keating says he wants to defend will still suffer.

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Legislative Republicans should end their hypocrisy and support a supplemental appropriations bill that would deliver emergency funding to heating assistance, nursing home inspectors, health care for the elderly and a variety of other pressing needs, according to the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The full Senate has approved a measure to help put an end to unwanted sales calls. Senate author Keith Leftwich said he's pleased the legislation has cleared another hurdle.

"The response we've gotten since we first announced this measure has been overwhelming," explained Senator Leftwich. "People are tired of coming home from work only to have their meal and family time interrupted by phone sales calls."

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Senate today voted in favor of a $714,190 supplemental appropriation for the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur, but without enough support for an emergency clause. That clause was necessary to make the legislation effective immediately upon the Governor's signature. Otherwise, those schools would have to wait 90 days after adjournment before receiving the appropriation.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc., has dedicated four more original works of art for display at the State Capitol. Senator Charles Ford, President of the organization explains the four bronze roundels were originally planned decades ago.

"This was something that Solomon Layton, the architect who designed our state capitol had envisioned; four bronze roundels depicting the state's native people placed on each side of the main entrances to the House and Senate Chambers," explained Senator Ford.

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Instead of helping the state meet a number of emergency funding needs, Republican members of the State Senate have opted for the "politics of gridlock" by blocking efforts to beef up heating assistance for the elderly and make nursing homes safer through increased inspections.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. has completed yet another project at the State Capitol. At noon on Monday, March 12, a ceremony will be held for the dedication of four bronze roundels that will mark the entrances to the House and Senate chambers.

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