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Press Releases

Showing: May, 2005

OKLAHOMA CITY-Republicans in the House are turning their heads to the problems that come with credit card debt and bankruptcy by killing a bill being backed by the State Chamber of Commerce. Senate Bill 378 would have required students who graduate from an Oklahoma school to take one semester of Personal Financial Economics but was killed when Republican House leaders refused to hear the bill before sine die adjournment last Friday.

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Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, called on Governor Brad Henry to expand the special session to include funding priorities for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).

“During the budget process my pleas to those at the negotiating table fell on deaf ears,” Corn said. “I am fearful that waiting any longer to address the issue of additional funding for DOC will seriously compromise the safety of Oklahoma communities and today I am asking the Governor for his help.”

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Statement from Senator Cal Hobson, Vice-chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee:

"Governor Keating is just looking for excuses to veto the higher education budget. He's made it clear time and time again that he's no friend of public education, especially when it comes to our state colleges and universities. Everyone remembers that one of his first official duties in office was to propose a $15 million cut to higher education.

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Oklahoma is a better place to live today because of the efforts of Senate Democrats in the First Session of the 0th Oklahoma Legislature, President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said moments after the session concluded at :22 p.m. Senate Democrats fought hard for working families and made sure any legislation passed out of this body that would help make tomorrow better for our children, said Morgan, DStillwater. Morgan said it would be easy to call 200 the Education Session but added the list of accomplishments is so long that such a characterization might be inadequate.

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Members of the State Senate Friday approved a pair of tax reduction bills that will save working families, veterans and retirees hundreds of dollars annually on their state income taxes.

Senate Bill 435 passed the Senate on a 40-7 vote. It contains provisions to raise the standard deduction – the single most effective method of lowering taxes on working families, said Senator Jay Paul Gumm, author of the measure.

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The State Senate has approved a bill to provide Oklahoma nursing homes with sex offender notifications. Principal Senate author of HB 1963, Sen. Debbe Leftwich said the measure will give greater peace of mind to nursing home residents and their families. In addition to providing nursing homes with notifications of individuals on the statewide sex offender registry, it also requires notification of those who are on the state’s violent offender registry.

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The Oklahoma Senate passed two measures earlier this week to encourage the manufacturing of alternative fuels in the state. House Bill 1556, by Representative Mike Jackson and Senators David Myers and Patrick Anderson, and HB 1398, by Rep. James Covey and Sen. Owen Laughlin, both received unanimous approval from the Senate and are now waiting for further consideration from the Governor.

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Session to Conclude with Record Funding for Education

Members of the State Senate voted Friday to fund an $11.4 million supplemental appropriation for public schools, Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield said.

House passage will allow the money to be used to help schools off-set costs that have arisen over the last five years as a result of a $3,000 pay raise for all state teachers which became effective in 2000.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said he is confident a special session on workers compensation reform will result in legislation to save millions for Oklahoma businesses while preserving the rights of workers injured on the job.

“We were just so close to passing meaningful workers’ compensation reform that struck the balance of protecting the rights of injured workers and lowering the cost of doing business,” Senator Morgan, (D-Stillwater) said. “The time constraints of the session just didn’t allow us to get it done today.”

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Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said important work for the 2005 legislative session is “to be continued” in a special session.

“This has the potential to be a pretty good legislative session if we can pass a meaningful workers’ compensation reform bill during the special session,” stated Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

“The biggest disappointment was the lack of action on lawsuit reform – one of the most important economic issues facing our state,” Coffee said.

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Senator Debbe Leftwich announced today that House Bill 1653, the Graduated Drivers License Act, cleared the full Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. The measure will provide teenage drivers with more time to develop their driving skills and learn in a low risk setting.

The Democrat from South Oklahoma City co-authored the legislation with Representative Danny Morgan, a Prague Democrat. Senator Leftwich stated that the measure follows in the footsteps of her late husband, Keith Leftwich, who brought the issue of a graduated driver’s license to the forefront.

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A measure to make the Employer Quality Jobs Act more sensitive to 21st century jobs, like the ones being created in the biotech industry, has received unanimous approval from the Senate.

Principal author of Senate Bill 407, Sen. Mike Mazzei said the measure will help draw new companies and businesses with high paying jobs to Oklahoma by offering special incentives.

"This legislation is very important for companies," said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. "It lets them know that Oklahoma is a hotbed for research and new technology start-ups."

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Senate Honors War Hero

With Memorial Day approaching, the State Senate honored an Oklahoma World War II veteran today at the Capitol with a resolution recognizing his years of service and sacrifice in the United State Air Force.

Senate Resolution 50, authored by Sen. Earl Garrison, was heard before the Senate this afternoon and recognized the outstanding war record and distinguished military career of Muskogee resident, Colonel Albert Eldon Hill who served his country for 41 years.

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State Senators today unanimously gave final approval to a plan to invest billions of dollars in road and bridge maintenance over the next decade.

House Bill 1078 passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote.

“Today we have made an historic investment in road and bridge maintenance in our state. Oklahomans will begin seeing the results of this bill before the end of this year. In the coming decade, hundreds of bridges will be replaced and repaired while thousands of miles of highways will be resurfaced,” said Senator Kenneth Corn, author of the measure.

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Special Session Could Be Needed on Workers Compensation

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan declared Thursday that Senate Democrats are unwilling to deny injured workers the right to choose their own physician.

Morgan said he is still hopeful that Republicans will agree to the latest Democratic proposal that protects physician choice and would save Oklahoma businesses $100 million.

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Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate Republican leaders said Thursday they were right when they predicted four weeks ago that Gov. Brad Henry would attempt to water down workers’ compensation reform if the issue went to a conference committee instead of receiving an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

Now it is too late in the legislative session for a good workers’ compensation reform bill to be produced – meaning the issue will have to be resolved in a special session of the Legislature this summer.

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A bill to enable consumers to get defects with their newly built home repaired at a swift rate did not make it over its final legislative hurdle and was vetoed by Governor Brad Henry this week. Senator Todd Lamb stated that Senate Bill 431, also known as the Homeowner Construction Defect Protection Act, would have provided those who hire a builder to construct their new home with a peace of mind so if problems did arise, they would be remedied quicker and less costly than current law allows.

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The State Senate has given overwhelming approval to a measure expanding the state’s DNA database to include samples from all convicted felons. Senate Bill 646, by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, was approved 42-3 on Wednesday.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said Wednesday there is still time for lawmakers to act on a measure that will infuse nearly $300 million into Oklahoma’s healthcare system – including $11 million that many rural hospitals say is necessary for their survival.

Morgan announced that he is ready to name conferees to the Senate-House Conference Committee on Senate Bill 944 but that Senate conferees can’t act until the House grants conference and Speaker of the House Todd Hiett names conferees.

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Senator Jeff Rabon stated today that the Oklahoma House of Representatives is grand-standing Oklahoma’s neediest and most vulnerable – our children who depend on Medicaid for their health coverage.

Yesterday the Senate passed a conference committee report to Senate Bill 944, which will implement a less than one percent fee on all of Oklahoma’s hospitals. Rabon stated the House needs to take action immediately to assign conferees to allow passage of SB 944, which will generate nearly $300 million in Medicaid revenue.

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