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Press Releases

Showing: February, 2007
Senate Honors Fallen Poteau Soldier

The State Senate on Tuesday afternoon honored Oklahoma soldier Buddy Hughie, who was killed last week on a mission in Afghanistan.

Senate Resolution 12, authored by Senator Kenneth Corn, was heard before the Senate and praised the heroism of Sergeant Buddy Hughie and mourned his loss.

“There is no way we can ever repay Sergeant Hughie for his sacrifice, and for his dedication to serve his country,” said Sen. Corn, D-Poteau. “This man gave his life to serve and we honor his sacrifice – I hope this resolution in a small way can express our appreciation.”

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In a fitting tribute to one of the state’s first civil rights leaders, the Oklahoma House of Representatives dedicated a portrait of Green I. Currin, an African American who served in the state’s first territorial legislature, as Black History Month came to an end Wednesday. The portrait, by Oklahoma native Timothy C. Tyler, was sponsored by local businessman Russell Perry and commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund.

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Two State Senators said they were stunned after their chamber voted to kill a measure aimed at keeping more teenagers in school until they get their diplomas. Senate Bill 519, co-authored by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, would have eliminated part of current state law that allows a student to drop out of school after turning 16.

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The State Senate has approved a measure to better educate students about the price of freedom and the sacrifices made by the nation’s military men and women. Senate Bill 17, by Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Ann Coody, would create “Celebrate Freedom Week,” which would take place during the week of Veteran's Day.

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Ensuring that winners of the Oklahoma lottery must first pay any delinquent taxes or child support liabilities was the focus of Senate Bill 513, which was approved Tuesday by the state Senate. Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson is the primary author of the bill.

Wilcoxson explained the need for the legislation arose last year when an anonymous trust claimed the prize for the Oklahoma Powerball lottery.

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Feral Swine Control Act Sent to House

One of Oklahoma's greatest animal nuisances may soon meet its match under a proposed bill that passed the State Senate Monday. Senator Roger Ballenger is author of Senate Bill 70 to create the Feral Swine Control Act.

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The full Senate has given approval to a measure giving Oklahomans greater protection against a new kind of fraud known as caller ID spoofing. Sen. James A. Williamson is the author of Senate Bill 712, the “Anti-Caller ID Spoofing Act.” The Tulsa Republican said criminals use this technology to trick people into giving out information that can be used for identity theft and other crimes. The measure would make ID spoofing a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

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Measure to Arm Judges Advances to House

The Senate approved a measure Monday to provide further protections for the state's courthouses by allowing judges to carry firearms while on the job. Senator Brian Crain is author of Senate Bill 145, which would allow for the carrying and use of weapons in courtrooms by district, associate district and special district judges.

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A bill designed to address the growing incidences of copper theft in Oklahoma has cleared its first legislative hurdle. Senate Bill 472, by Senator Cliff Branan, was approved by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee on Thursday.

“This crime can actually put people’s lives at risk, especially the elderly, because it can leave them without air conditioning and power at the worst possible times—when the temperatures are in the triple digits,” Branan said.

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State Sen. Debbe Leftwich said her measure to improve access to behavioral health care in Oklahoma is dead for two years after failing to receive passage from a Senate committee on Thursday. Leftwich said Senate Bill 452 would have closed a loophole that currently prevents thousands of Oklahomans from getting the treatment they need.

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Two bills aimed at shoring up the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma (TRS) are now headed to the full Senate for consideration. Sen. Mike Mazzei is the author of the measures, each of which would substantially reduce the 49 percent unfunded liability rate in the system within the next two decades. Combined, the bills would accomplish that feat in about half the time.

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The Senate Rules Committee passed a measure Wednesday declaring animal waste as nonhazardous. Sen. Ron Justice, author of Senate Bill 709, said the measure was necessary because not doing so would be detrimental to the agriculture industry.

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Senate Honors Oklahoma Musician

The Oklahoma State Senate honored the life, accomplishments and musical talent of Oklahoma native B.J. Thomas Wednesday.

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Senate Mourns Loss of Former Member

The State Senate adopted a resolution on Wednesday honoring the public career of former State Senator Bryce Baggett, who passed away on February 15. Baggett served in the State House of Representatives from 1958 through 1964, and in the State Senate from 1964 through 1972. State Sen. Clark Jolley is principal author of the resolution. Jolley represents District 41, the same district Baggett once represented.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee gave approval Wednesday to a key health care component of the Senate Democrats’ “Oklahoma Rising” agenda. Senate Bill 424 provides access to quality health care for more of Oklahoma’s uninsured children.

Named the “All Kids Act,” the measure would increase the number of children eligible to receive Medicaid benefits in the state by closing the gap between those children presently receiving Medicaid benefits and those covered under private insurance held by their parents.

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The State Senate on Wednesday paused for a moment of silence in honor of a Poteau, Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday.

Sgt. Buddy Hughie, 25, was killed while attempting to deliver medical supplies to fallen soldiers. Hughie and his unit were working in a joint mission with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and the Afghan National Army.

Sen. Kenneth Corn of Poteau praised Hughie for his heroism and devotion to his duty.

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Gov. Brad Henry’s controversial plan to create a state-funded pre-kindergarten program for three-year-olds is dead for the next two years following a tie vote in the Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill, SB 518, died on an 8 to 8 vote Wednesday. Under the Senate’s new power-sharing agreement, a bill receiving a tie vote on “final action” in a committee is dead for the next two years.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has given approval to a measure that would clarify how Oklahoma law defines child neglect. Senate Bill 790, by Senator Debbe Leftwich, was approved on Tuesday. Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, said the legislation is supported by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth and is designed to close a loophole in the statutes that can prevent neglect charges from being filed against parents, even when their lack of supervision is the cause of a child’s death.

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A significant reduction in the amount of revenue expected to flow into state coffers in Fiscal Year 2007 signals a need for a Constitutional amendment that will help stabilize the state budget, a veteran State Senator said Tuesday.

When the State Board of Equalization certified the final FY 2008 revenue projections Tuesday, the estimate of funds available for the coming fiscal year was about $270 million less than the amount the board initially certified in December.

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The authors of a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday bill say they are pleased the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the measure Tuesday.

Senate Bill 861 is sponsored by Republican Senator Don Barrington from Lawton and Democratic Senator Jay Paul Gumm of Durant. The measure would enact a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday on the same days as the Texas holiday.

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