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Press Releases

Showing: June, 2005

Oklahoma is now the third state in the nation to have an official caucus to help develop and pass legislation dealing with cancer research, prevention and treatment. Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee and Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC are co-chairs of the newly formed caucus.

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Sen. Debbe Leftwich said she’s working to ensure Oklahoma families and individuals don’t lose their homes in government land grabs after a recent Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. The Oklahoma City Democrat said she has requested legislation to restrict government property seizures.

“Owning your own home is the American Dream. It is shocking to think that dream could be shattered because a big business has enough clout to take what you thought was yours,” Leftwich said.

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Sen. Brian Crain is planning to introduce legislation limiting the circumstances local governments can use for taking personal property. He said last week’s Supreme Court decision was a serious blow to the rights of individual property owners.

“I support the use of eminent domain for roads, bridges and other kinds of infrastructure projects that clearly benefit the public. But I do not support selling eminent domain powers to the highest bidder. That’s what I’m afraid this Supreme Court ruling could do,” said Crain, R-Tulsa.

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Saying he was alarmed by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding the use of eminent domain, Sen. Clark Jolley plans to introduce a legislation giving greater protection to private property owners in Oklahoma.

The court decision expands the right of local governments to seize private property not only for public projects, such as the construction of roads or schools, but also for private economic development.

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Senator Kenneth Corn and other members of the Senate stood outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) in McAlester this afternoon and vowed to continue fighting for adequate funding for Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) and promised to work diligently to bring a comprehensive solution to a funding problem that plagues the department year after year.

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Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, questioned today what exactly it was going to take to make Republican Speaker of the House Todd Hiett understand there is a crisis in prisons across Oklahoma.

“Just this weekend, a private prison in Holdenville had to be locked down to prevent a riot among prisoners, and the Speaker is still saying we should wait until next year to address the problem.” Corn said. “This is a slap in the face to the thousands of correctional officers who put their lives on the line every day.”

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced Wednesday that he has asked the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary to develop a Senate plan to increasing funding for the Department of Corrections.

Morgan said he contacted Sub-Committee Chairman Kenneth Corn by telephone Tuesday and asked the Poteau Democrat to have the plan prepared by Thursday, July 14.

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Two Republican state senators have written Attorney General Drew Edmondson seeking an official opinion regarding the elimination of Certificates of Non-Coverage (CNC) by the recently passed workers’ compensation reform bill – a provision that is placing an undue burden on thousands of small businesses.

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Senator Judy Eason McIntyre along with the a group of Buffalo Soldiers were in attendance with Governor Brad Henry for a ceremonial bill signing today that honors African American soldiers that served in the Civil War. Senate Bill 659 was signed into law on Wednesday, May 18, 2005.

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A pair of Republican state senators from the Tulsa area called on Gov. Brad Henry Tuesday to add tobacco tax parity legislation to the agenda for the Legislature’s special session.

News reports last weekend quoted State Treasurer Scott Meacham – the architect of Henry’s poorly-designed tobacco tax program – as saying the governor is “surveying” members of the legislature to determine whether there is support for parity legislation.

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Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, said today that comments made by Speaker of the House of Representatives Todd Hiett, after Monday’s meeting of the State Board of Equalization show a lack of commitment to keep the citizens of Oklahoma safe.

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Senators Fight to Save Pole Road

Two state senators are working together to ensure a Department of Transportation plan to reconstruct the I-240 and I-35 interchanges in two years doesn’t result in eliminating access to a road taken by nearly half of Crossroads Mall’s customers. Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC, and Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-OKC, said the proposal could take a terrible toll on businesses and their employees.

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(Oklahoma City) Governor Brad Henry turned his back on rural Oklahoma late Wednesday by vetoing a section of the Department of Commerce appropriation bill that directed $3.1 million to sub-state planning districts to fund local projects.

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(Oklahoma City) Senator Adelson announced a five-part plan to reduce healthcare costs in Oklahoma Thursday following the release of a national study that found that the privately insured in Oklahoma pay nearly double the national average in additional premiums to cover the cost of healthcare for the uninsured.

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Governor Signs Worksite Gun Bill

Senator Jay Paul Gumm today praised Governor Brad Henry for signing into a law a measure that strengthens the rights of gun owners and protects employers from lawsuits.


Among the dozens of bills signed by Henry late Wednesday was House Bill 1243 by Gumm and Rep. Greg Piatt.


The legislation, Gumm said, is supported by the National Rifle Association.

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Governor Brad Henry signed a bill into law this week that will consolidate and reorganize the duties and functions of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

"The Department is a conglomeration of various government entities and the current set up is not working efficiently," said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah. "This year, the Department received a 25-percent budget cut which caused the agency to have to restructure it divisions to streamline costs, personnel and activities.

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A bill to outlaw the impersonation of a veteran or member of the military has been signed into law. Gov. Brad Henry signed the measure on Monday. Sen. Don Barrington is principal author of Senate Bill 777 which includes fines and jail time for the crime.

“The idea that someone would even do this is a slap in the face to the men and women who really have risked their lives for our country. But when you have an emergency or disaster situation, these impersonators could wind up putting people in harm’s way,” said Barrington, R-Lawton.

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Two tax reduction bills signed into law Tuesday by Governor Brad Henry will mean that Oklahoma working families will soon be paying fewer state income taxes, Senate Finance Chairman Jay Paul Gumm said.

“The tax cuts signed into law by the governor today will strengthen families by putting money back in the pockets of every Oklahoma taxpayer and help us make a better tomorrow for our children,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant.

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Senator Kenneth Corn today called on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to adopt competitive bidding rules for utilities that would save Oklahomans thousands of dollars on their electric bills.

In testimony before the Commission Monday, Corn, D-Poteau, told commissioners that requiring utility companies to competitively bid electric power generation and fuel purchases will save money for rate payers.

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State Sen. Randy Brogdon said he had serious concerns that one item on the Governor’s expanded special session call could waste millions of taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the Owasso Republican questioned the second item of the amended call which asked lawmakers to consider funding for the Oklahoma Capitol Complex.

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