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Press Releases

Showing: April, 2007
Henry Flip-Flops on Lawsuit Reform

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” – Groucho Marx

Gov. Brad Henry flip-flopped on the issue of lawsuit reform by vetoing Senate Bill 507, bipartisan legislation that contains most of the areas of lawsuit reform the governor himself called for in 2004.

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“I am pleased that Governor Henry has vetoed Senate Bill 507. The governor has shown great courage in vetoing this bill and proven once again he is the governor for all of the people of our state.

“Senate Bill 507 would have severely limited access to the courts for most Oklahomans, leaving civil justice as a commodity only the wealthy could afford. It would have tipped the scales heavily in favor of large corporations and against working families and royalty owners.

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The state Senate on Monday honored the accomplishments of the University of Oklahoma Women’s Basketball team and head coach Sherri Coale, passing a resolution commending the team on another championship season.

Sen. John Sparks authored Senate Resolution 34 to recognize Coale and the Sooner women, who in 2006-07 became the first Big XII program to win back-to-back regular season and post-season conference championships.

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A painting of one of the Oklahoma Panhandle’s historic sites will soon be dedicated at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The painting of “Robber’s Roost” by artist Wayne Cooper was commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund and is sponsored by Senator Owen and Charlette Laughlin.

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Legislation to address the growing crisis in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma (TRS) is now on its way to Gov. Brad Henry for his consideration. That’s after the full Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 357 on Monday. Sen. Mike Mazzei and Sen. Kenneth Corn co-authored the measure. They agreed passage of the bill was a critical move toward addressing the system’s $7 billion unfunded liability.

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At a time when Oklahoma is receiving criticism for student performance on the ACT as well as a failing grade from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in academic achievement, State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson said a push to weaken Gov. Brad Henry’s Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) program with alternative testing couldn’t come at a worse time. The majority of the ACE steering committee supported more than 270 examinations to offer students in place of proficiency tests in core subjects.

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State Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of appropriations bills for 5 state agencies.

“The budget numbers in these non-controversial bills exactly matched the funding levels contained in both the bipartisan general appropriations bill and Gov. Henry’s executive budget,” stated Coffee.

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House leaders killed a proposal to create a public umbilical cord blood bank only to reluctantly resurrect the language in a second bill.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm and Rep. Rebecca Hamilton introduced Senate Bill 139. The measure would have created the Oklahoma Public Cord Blood Bank at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

House Republican leaders refused to give the bill a hearing. Instead, House Republicans dropped almost identical language creating a public cord blood bank into a second bill that is sponsored by Republican lawmakers.

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It is estimated that up to 1.5 million Americans have some form of autism, and reports indicate autism is growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent each year. In an effort to help better educate the public about this neurological disorder, the State Senate voted on Thursday to declare April 2007 as Autism Awareness Month in Oklahoma. Sen. Mike Johnson was the principal author of the measure.

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The bipartisan leadership of the Oklahoma Senate praised the passage of Senate Bill 357 by the House of Representatives, part of a bipartisan legislative agreement that will pump more than $200 million over the next five years into the fiscally-troubled Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (TRS). When fully implemented in 2010, the plan will infuse $60 million a year into the TRS.

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SB 714 Author Disappointed by Senator Laster’s Flip-Flop on Abortion Issue

On Wednesday the evenly divided Oklahoma Senate fell one vote short of the 32 votes needed to override Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of a pro-life bill after Democrat Senator Charles Laster of Shawnee flip-flopped by voting against an override motion after voting 3 previous times in favor of the legislation this session – once in committee and twice on the Senate floor.

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Statement by Senator Charlie Laster

“I initially voted in favor of Senate Bill 714.

“However, in the days since that vote I have visited with Governor Henry and multiple medical professionals.

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Doctors should not pressure women into having abortions because medical tests indicate the baby may be born with disabilities. That was the message at a State Capitol Press Conference on Tuesday with Sen. James A. Williamson, principal author of Senate Bill 714, a measure to ban the use of state facilities or employees to perform abortions. That measure was recently vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry.

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The State Senate on Monday honored the distinguished life and career of the late Senator Robert M. Kerr with the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 32, dedicating the “Senator Robert M. “Bob” Kerr Memorial Highway” in Jackson County.

The soft-spoken Senator from Altus was first elected to the state Senate in 1986 and served through his passing in 2006.

Sen. Mike Schulz, author of SCR 32, said Kerr would always be remembered as a gentleman who had the respect and admiration of everyone at the State Capitol.

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Senate Mourns Loss of Infants

Each year, approximately one million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn baby and Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre has authored a concurrent resolution mourning these deaths. SCR 25, co-authored by Rep. Mike Shelton, also designates October 15, 2007 as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day" in Oklahoma.

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State Capitol, Oklahoma City - Oklahoma Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma, issued the following statement regarding Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode.

"Denise Bode is a faithful leader who has provided nearly a decade of service to the people of Oklahoma as a member of our Corporation Commission. Oklahomans appreciate her hard work and commitment to our state, and we will miss her. I wish my friend and colleague the best of luck in her new endeavors.

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The evenly divided Oklahoma Senate voted Thursday to send a bipartisan, comprehensive lawsuit reform bill to Gov. Brad Henrys desk. The Senate passed Senate Bill 0, authored by Sen. Cliff Branan, ROklahoma City, on a bipartisan 2 to 23 vote. The bills supporters praised the passage of the historic legislation. Four years ago Gov. Henry promised to bring Texas Plus tort reform to Oklahoma.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said Thursday that passage of extreme changes in the state’s civil justice system contained in Senate Bill 507 will severely cripple access to justice for everyday Oklahomans.

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A section of proposed law buried inside a tort reform bill could allow nursing homes and hospitals to hide information about what injured or killed a patient. Sen. Debbe Leftwich said most Oklahomans would be outraged if that were allowed to happen. She said the language, contained in sections 24 through 28 of the 119 page bill, should be removed.

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