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Press Releases

Showing: March, 2005

If Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company doesn’t sign a new long-term contract to buy electricity from the AES Shady Point co-generation plant in Le Flore County soon, more than 2,000 Oklahoma coal miners and truck drivers could be forced into the ranks of the unemployed, State Senator Kenneth Corn said Wednesday morning

“We’re talking about real people with mortgages to pay and children to clothe and feed. We’re talking about wiping out an entire industry in our state,” said Corn, D-Poteau.
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Charles R. Ford announced the unveiling of a portrait of Amelia Elizabeth “Bessie” McColgin, as part of a series of paintings commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. The portrait of Oklahoma’s first female representative is by nationally- renowned artist Mike Wimmer of Norman, and was unveiled during a ceremony in the House Chamber this afternoon.
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Senate Judiciary Chairman Has Already Killed Henry’s Tort Bill This Session

State Capitol, Oklahoma City – Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee has written Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Laster to formally request a committee hearing for House Bill 2047, the landmark comprehensive lawsuit reform bill authored by Coffee and House Speaker Todd Hiett.

HB 2047 passed the House of Representatives three weeks ago on a bipartisan 62 to 38 vote, and is still awaiting action in the Senate.

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Gov. Henry Putting Families at Risk With Release of Violent Criminals from Prison

Senate Republicans leaders said Wednesday that Gov. Brad Henry is putting Oklahoma families at risk with his approval of the release of nearly 500 violent criminals from prison since he took office two years ago – almost a 100% increase compared to former Gov. Frank Keating’s final two years in office, according to data obtained from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board.

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Senate Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield said Tuesday that he’s fearful that the unwillingness of the House Republican leadership to compromise on any budget issue could be a signal of a potential GOP-led shutdown of state government.

“It could just be a sign of House leadership’s inexperience in writing a state budget, but I’m fearful that Representative Hiett plans to follow the example set a decade ago by the first Republican speaker of the U.S. House in a generation,” Crutchfield said.
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Democrat Leaders Suspected of Trying to Engineer Government Shutdown With ‘Unrealistic’ Budget Proposal

Senate Republican leaders Tuesday unveiled a compromise budget proposal in an effort to head off what appears to be an effort by Democrat leaders to engineer a shutdown of state government. Senate Republicans hope to repeat their efforts in 2003, when they helped broker a bipartisan budget agreement during the budget shortfall after proposing their own compromise budget.

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Charles R. Ford announced the unveiling of a portrait of Sam Walton, as part of a series of paintings commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. The portrait of Walton is by nationally- renowned artist Mike Wimmer of Norman, and was unveiled during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber this afternoon.

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Senator Cal Hobson said today that college students throughout Oklahoma will soon see the results of a $500 million dollar investment in their future when construction begins on projects included in the Higher Education Bond Issue that passed the Senate with bi-partisan support. Hobson, Senate author of the bill, said passage of House Bill 1191, marks the end of months of work on an issue that will go down in history as an important victory for higher education and a victory for all Oklahomans.
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Statement by Senate Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield

“The budget outline released by Senate Republicans today is just that – a very sketchy outline with no details. Senator Coffee couldn’t be more wrong than when he says that Senate Democrats are trying to engineer a shutdown of state government.

“Senate Republicans are the ones who voted as a block against funding for a multitude of state agencies two weeks ago.
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The Oklahoma State Senate has unveiled its next phase in the ongoing effort to create more openness in government through greater public access. Just weeks after unveiling its new webcast of the Senate Chamber, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan announced that starting Monday, the media and the public would be able to watch and listen to Senate committee action via an additional webcam.
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Senate Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield (D-Ardmore) said today, Speaker Hiett needs to take his own party’s advice and “Fund Education First” rather than point his finger at the State Senate.

“We passed an historic education appropriations bill more than two weeks ago, two days before the ‘Fund Education First’ deadline, while the Speaker played politics and refused to sign on to an agreement that passed unanimously by both parties in the Senate,” Crutchfield said.
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Gov. Brad Henry’ spokesperson is misrepresenting Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee’s position on Henry’s watered-down lawsuit reform bill.

Henry’s office erroneously claimed Thursday that Coffee had previously endorsed the legislative language contained in Senate Bill 914, which died in the Senate Thursday when Senate Democrat leaders did not bring it up for a vote because of bipartisan opposition to the bill.

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State Sen. Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, announced that a Republican workers’ compensation reform plan is estimated to reduce costs by three times as much as a competing proposal by Democrat Gov. Brad Henry.

Pruitt said that independent analyses released this week by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) estimates that the Henry plan would reduce costs by only
$20-$51 million. In comparison, NCCI estimates the GOP plan, authored by House Speaker Todd Hiett and Pruitt, would save three times as much – $70 to $158 million.

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Charlie Laster expressed disappointment Thursday that the Texas-plus tort reform measure proposed by Governor Henry last year was not considered by the full Senate this week.

He didn’t bring the bill up, he said, because it would not have passed.

“We couldn’t muster one Republican vote for the same bill they said last year was the answer to Oklahoma’s lawsuit reform needs,” Laster said. “We had almost every Democrat on board, but with a narrowly divided Senate, we needed at least a few Republican votes to pass the bill.

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Senator Kenneth Corn and Representative Terry Harrison say they are outraged at the reckless behavior of the Republican Leadership in the House who refused to give a bill a hearing in committee that would exempt all state income taxes paid on overtime wages.

“Oklahomans work countless hours of overtime each year only to see a huge chunk of those wages chipped away by taxes,” Corn said. “If Oklahomans are working longer hours away from their families they should be able to keep all wages they earn.”

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* Henry’s ‘My Way or Highway’ Approach Leads to Bill’s Demise

Senate Democrat leaders did not bring up Gov. Henry’s watered-down lawsuit reform package for a vote on the Senate floor Thursday after Henry and Democrat leaders could not produce enough Democrat senators to pass the partisan measure.

“The lack of a vote today on lawsuit reform is a failure of leadership on the part of Gov. Henry and the Senate Democrat leadership,” stated Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

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State Senator Frank Shurden has won full Senate approval for a measure to ensure the State Health Department has regulatory control over tattooing. Senate Bill 806 passed 30 to 15 on Wednesday.

“We are the only state that does not regulate tattooing. With Hepatitis C on the rise, we need to address this public health and safety issue and do what 49 other states are doing—make sure these businesses are not spreading disease,” said Shurden, D-Henryetta.
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Workers compensation reforms proposed by Governor Brad Henry passed through the Oklahoma State Senate Wednesday afternoon on a straight party-line vote.

With Democrats backing the Governor’s proposal and Republicans voting in opposition, Senate Bill 846 was approved on a 25-21 vote.

“This legislation will save money for Oklahoma businesses, protect the rights of injured workers and provide a boost to Oklahoma’s economy,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charlie Laster, author of the measure
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A measure to ensure that Oklahoma homeowners do not receive a cancellation notice of their insurance after filing a claim cleared yet another legislative hurdle today. Senator Mary Easley, author of Senate Bill 402, stated that the intent of the bill is to guarantee that Oklahoma’s homeowners do not receive a lapse in their insurance coverage.
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State Senators Wednesday approved a $3.798 billion general appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2006. Combined with the Common Education appropriation passed earlier in the week, Senate Bill 213 establishes a $5.95 billion framework for the FY 2006 state budget
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