Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Daisy Lawler said Wednesday that Oklahoma ranchers have lost thousands of acres of pasture lands and stored bales of hay in the recent rash of wildfires that have swept across the state.
The loss leaves ranchers with an immediate need to buy hay and some are being asked to pay extremely high prices in their local markets, the Senator said.
Republicans of the Oklahoma State Senate unveiled their legislative agenda for the 2006 legislative session Wednesday at news conferences in Lawton, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City.
“Today Senate Republicans are unveiling a positive plan for Oklahoma to make our state a better place to live, work, start a business, get a quality education, and raise a family in health, safety and security,” stated Senate Republican Floor Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.read more.
“I look forward to working with Republicans to learn the details of the agenda as presented by the minority party today. As always, their plan is big on promises and short on details and it looks like the same, tired old rhetoric we’ve heard from them for years.
“Oklahomans are looking for new ideas that promote personal and corporate responsibility. They want policies that actually help all Oklahomans, in particular working families and the middle class, rather than just a privileged few.
Members of the State Senate heard testimony Tuesday about the many benefits of a program known as Farm-to-School. Sen. Daisy Lawler, D-Comanche, requested the interim study on the program which helps local farmers sell fresh produce to area schools.
Lawler requested the study after learning about a pilot Farm-to-School program involving the sale of Oklahoma-grown watermelons to six state school districts.
State Sen. Jonathan Nichols announced he would file legislation to give Oklahomans greater protection against identity theft. Nichols, R-Norman, said his measure would allow consumers to freeze their credit files and give the State Attorney General jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute identity theft. Nichols said the bill would be called The Oklahoma Identity Theft Act, and noted it has the support of Attorney General Drew Edmondson.read more.
General Motors Steals Christmas from Working Families;
OKC Senator calls for special review of GM incentives
to ensure taxpayers dont lose money
Extremely poor leadership at the top of General Motors Corporation and out-of-control fuel costs have left thousands of central Oklahoma families out in the cold, a South Oklahoma City State Senator said today.read more.
General Motors decision to close its plant in southeast Oklahoma City is in no way a reflection on the business climate in our state or the outstanding workforce at the plant. Over the last 30 years, Oklahoma has provided millions of dollars in tax incentives to entice General Motors to locate here, encourage the company to retool its plant and then to rebuild it when a tornado struck the facility in 2003.
The result is that Oklahoma City is home to one of the most modern auto assembly plants and some of best-trained automakers in the country.read more.
“If you care about quality healthcare in Oklahoma then you can be sure the tobacco tax approved by voters in last year’s election is successfully lowering the number of smokers in our state and providing millions of new dollars to help small business owners provide health insurance for working families throughout Oklahoma.
“For those that care only about selling more cigarettes which will lead to an unhealthy Oklahoma, then I guess you could say the tobacco tax is indeed flawed and is hurting the deeply lined pockets of big tobacco.read more.
Constance N. Johnson Officially Takes Office November 26
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced Friday that the newest member of the Oklahoma State Senate, Senator-elect Constance N. Johnson, will serve as chairwoman of the Appropriations Sub-Committee for Select Agencies.
The Oklahoma City Democrat won a special election in September to succeed Senator Angela Monson, who is being forced from office by Oklahoma’s Constitutional term limits. Johnson will officially take office at midnight Saturday, November 26, when Monson’s term expires.read more.
Twenty-six survivors of the USS Oklahoma are returning to the Sooner State this week. State Sen. Jim Reynolds, who has been working with the group to secure a permanent memorial at Pearl Harbor, said the survivors held their reunion here in 2004 and voted unanimously to hold their 2005 gathering here as well.
Senator Kenneth Corn, (D-Poteau) Chairman of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, made the following comments in response to a statement by House Republicans John Trebilcock and Gus Blackwell concerning the public safety crisis in Oklahoma.
“Senate leaders are more than willing to meet anytime to work out a bi-partisan agreement with House leaders as soon as they are willing to address the emergency situation in a special session, and not simply talk about next year.
Veteran Senator Cal Hobson questioned Thursday why, if House Speaker Todd Hiett believes the Oklahoma prisons have been under-funded for 10 years, he is willing to wait until next year to address the critical staffing shortage in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
State Senator Daisy Lawler said plans are underway for a series of hearings on a program known as Farm-to-School. Lawler said President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan had approved her request for the interim study and said she would begin holding hearings later this month.
Senator Gilmer Capps, an Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate is calling on Republican Speaker Todd Hiett to bring members of the House of Representatives back to the Capitol for a special session to keep Oklahomans safe.
State Sen. Jim Wilson has filed legislation to allow Gov. Brad Henry to buy out tribal tobacco tax compacts that have given some smoke shops an unfair advantage over others.
Many smoke shops have been able to sell cigarettes using a 6-cent tax stamp, which is 80-cents less than the amount paid by most shops operating under new compacts. Some recent news reports have also alleged some tribes that are supposed to be using the higher tax stamp have illegally used the 6-cent per pack stamp. Either way, Sen. Wilson said the health of Oklahoma’s citizens suffers for it.read more.
Praising him for his support of both the oil and gas industry and royalty owners, the National Association of Royalty Owners honored Oklahoma Senator Richard Lerblance Friday as the organization’s National Legislator of the Year.
Lerblance accepted the honor at NARO’s annual convention at Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center. Royalty owners from more than 30 states attended the annual meeting.read more.
OKLAHOMA CITY- Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield said Tuesday that Senator David Myers needs to further explain his proposal to use across the board budget cuts to fund an increase for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The Senator explained that due to skyrocketing energy prices, LIHEAP will need additional revenue this year to help the neediest Oklahomans stay warm this winter.read more.
State Capitol, Oklahoma City – State Sen. David Myers said many seniors and the needy will need additional assistance from the state to help pay for higher-than-normal heating bills this winter. Today, Myers suggested that a small, across-the-board reduction in state spending could be used to pay for heating assistance.read more.