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Press Releases

Showing: August, 2005

“No” votes by Senate Republicans Wednesday may have doomed the celebration of Oklahoma’s Centennial in 2007, Senator Jeff Rabon said.

Senate Bill 5X, which would have provided $10 million in funding for projects across the state, failed on a 24-23 vote with all 22 Republican Senators voting against the measure.

“Because they defeated this bill, its unlikely now that there will be any state funds to finish centennial projects in towns like Ponca City, Choctaw, Owasso, Seminole and Tinker Air Force Base,” Rabon said.

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The State Senate has given unanimous approval to a resolution honoring the centennial of the Catholic Diocese of Oklahoma. Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, is author of the measure which was approved during Wednesday’s special session at the State Capitol.

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Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee made the following comments regarding today’s meeting of the Oklahoma State Senate in special session:

PUBLIC SAFETY

“Now that the Senate Democrats’ theatrics are over, the real work can begin on properly funding public safety,” stated Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

“Instead of putting on a political sideshow by forcing the Senate to meet in a meaningless special session, Senate Democrats would have better served the public by working with Republicans to develop a bipartisan agreement,” he said.

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Fate of Bill Now Lies With Republican Controlled House

In a 46-1 vote, the Senate passed a plan today to keep Oklahoma communities safe by giving DOC the funding they need to hire more correctional officers in Oklahoma prisons.

The plan must receive approval from the Republican controlled House before the bill can be signed into law by Governor Brad Henry. But Speaker Hiett and other Republicans in the Legislature have said the public safety crisis can wait until next year and have introduced their own plan that advocates deficit spending.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said today that after comparing the Republican plan which advocates deficit spending with the Senate Democrats’ comprehensive plan that will be taken up during a special session today and Wednesday, he is confident the only plan that keeps Oklahomans safe is the Senate Democratic plan.

“Their plan is based on a ‘promise now-pay later’ mentality,” Morgan, (D-Stillwater) said. “Our plan is based on an ‘act now to keep Oklahomans safe’ mentality.”

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Comments by a Senate Democrat leader that there is “no difference” between inmates at minimum and maximum security prisons shows just how out of touch Senate Democrats are on public safety issues.

Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, the Democrat’s point person on public safety funding, made the comment while criticizing a GOP prison funding proposal that would give correctional employees larger pay increases if they work at more dangerous facilities. Corn said no pay differential is necessary because there is “no difference” between inmates in different types of facilities.

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In addition to $11 million in funding for the Department of Corrections, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan and Majority Leader Ted Fisher announced today that they will ask Senators to approve a $10 million appropriation for the Oklahoma Centennial Commission when the Senate convenes in Special Session Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said today he is disappointed, but not surprised by the Republicans’ latest political stunt in response to the public safety crisis in Oklahoma created by a shortage of corrections officers in the state’s prisons.

“Their solution to this serious public safety crisis is to hold a press conference. Senate Democrats intend to return to work tomorrow and Wednesday and pass a funding plan that will once again make Oklahoma families safe,” Morgan said.

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Republican Senator Randy Brogdon of Owasso said today that the call for special session should include a fix for the tobacco tax.

“The Senate is coming back in a special session this week and Governor Henry needs to expand the call so that the legislature can fix the ever-growing problem that is the tobacco tax. It is the governor and Treasurer Meacham’s poorly drafted tobacco tax plan that has caused this mess; at the very least the governor should enable the legislature to clean up his mess.

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Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee made the following statement regarding Democrat Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan’s decision to bring the State Senate back into special session.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced today that members of the Oklahoma Senate will reconvene the First Extraordinary Session of the 50th Oklahoma Legislature next week.

“The Senate has a plan to address the public safety crisis created by a shortage of correctional officers in our state prisons. We have the money to fund the plan and we are going to act,” Morgan said.

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Senate leaders said Wednesday they are disappointed House Speaker Todd Hiett is focusing on tax cuts targeted for wealthy Oklahomans rather than addressing the safety of all of the state’s citizens.

“Our efforts should be focused on keeping Oklahomans safe,” President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said. “The Speaker has had more than enough time to review a comprehensive plan to fund corrections put forth by Senate Democrats six weeks ago.”

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Opposition by Senate Democrats to GOP proposals to eliminate the state’s death tax proves how out of touch the Senate’s century-old majority is with the people of Oklahoma.

Coffee said Senate Republicans plan to push for the elimination of the death tax during the 2006 legislative session. House Republicans announced similar plans today.

“The Senate Democrats’ knee-jerk reaction in opposition to eliminating the death tax shows how out of touch their party is with the people of Oklahoma,” stated Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

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Senator Randy Bass, Chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in the Oklahoma State Senate and member of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, said today’s announcement that Fort Sill will gain troops is a huge victory for Lawton/Fort Sill.

“The city of Lawton and the communities in southwest Oklahoma should be commended for their unwavering support of Fort Sill that without a doubt played an important role in bringing more troops to Fort Sill,” Bass, a Democrat from Lawton said.

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Republican Senator Randy Brogdon of Owasso said today that the state and Native American tribes should enter into arbitration to the fix tobacco tax problems.

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Statement from Senator Kenneth Corn

“After months of refusing to address the public safety crisis, I hope Speaker Hiett’s ‘major policy announcement’ tomorrow isn’t just another attempt to change the subject.

“I hope the Speaker will announce his support for a comprehensive plan announced by Senate Democrats more than a month ago that gives the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) the tools they so desperately need to help keep our communities safe.

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Saying working families suffer most when gas prices soar, Senator Kenneth Corn called on President George W. Bush and Congress to immediately use whatever powers necessary to thwart skyrocketing gas prices.

“Many working families, especially here in southeastern Oklahoma live pay check to pay check, and cannot afford to pay $50 dollars every time they go to the pump,” Corn said.

Corn added that during the past legislative session, a resolution was authored by Democratic Senator Daisy Lawler calling on Congress and President Bush to address fuel prices.

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Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said Tuesday that Senator Kenneth Corn has joined liberal national Democrats in an effort to politicize rising fuel prices – and said Corn tried using a make-believe Senate vote on the issue in an effort to score partisan political points.

Corn issued a partisan news release Tuesday calling on President George W. Bush and Congress to address rising fuel prices.

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The Senate Finance Committee chair said he was pleased House Republicans appear to have “finally begun to value rural Oklahoma” and the work of Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma (REI).

Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, said a proposal announced Monday by Speaker Todd Hiett to partner with REI on a rural economic initiative is in stark contrast to many policy positions historically held by House Republicans.

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With worsening drought conditions throughout the state raising concerns about grass and wild fires, Sen. Jeff Rabon has asked Gov. Brad Henry to expand the special session call to provide emergency funding for fire fighting for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division.

“This really is an emergency—especially in southeastern Oklahoma where the drought conditions are approaching historic levels. This is a potentially deadly situation that could result in the loss of lives and millions of dollars in damages,” said Rabon, D-Hugo.

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