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Press Releases

Showing: January, 2008

Sen. Kenneth Corn has filed three measures intended to curtail the influence of special interests in Oklahoma's electoral process and restore integrity to the system.

Corn said the proposals are a response to a growing concern that average Oklahomans have been priced out of the political process and their influence has become secondary to that of special interest groups.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A proposal by Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant to end the state’s grocery tax made the list of “100 Ideas” made by Oklahomans to improve the state.

Over the course of the past year, more than 3,500 ideas were submitted through a website and thousands more were collected at “Idea Raisers” held by communities across Oklahoma. The proposal to end the grocery tax was the “Number 25” idea.

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With President Bush and the U.S. Congress working to pass a bipartisan economic stimulus package, State Sen. Don Barrington wants to ensure that the federal tax rebates included in the package are exempt from state income taxes.

“If the State of Oklahoma taxes these federal rebates, it will diminish the impact of the stimulus package on our state’s economy,” Barrington said. “It is imperative that the Legislature takes action this session to make sure Oklahomans don’t have to fork over part of their federal rebate to the state government.”

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Common-sense measures to strengthen families and better utilize existing nutrition programs are among strategies to address hunger in Oklahoma identified by the Oklahoma Task Force on Hunger in its final report delivered today to the Governor and leaders from the Senate and the House.

The report includes recommendations for increased coordination among services organizations and ways to extend existing outreach to serve more people. The report also includes strategies to involve schools and improve students' access to sufficient and nutritious food.

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With state employees having received only two pay increases in the past seven years, Sen. Kenneth Corn on Monday said the Legislature must make state employees a priority and provide them with a pay raise this year.

Corn is the author of SB 1379, which authorizes a $2,700 pay raise for Oklahoma state employees. Corn said state employees provide valuable and indispensible work, and should be at the top of the list when state funds are dispersed.
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2008 Legislative Agenda Focuses on Opportunity and Responsibility

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Statement by Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City:

“My thoughts and prayers are with Speaker Cargill and his family. He made a difficult decision, and should be commended for putting his caucus, the House of Representatives, and the state ahead of himself.

“Lance Cargill has many legislative successes during his tenure as Speaker that have had a positive impact on our state. He and I have had a positive working relationship as legislative leaders, and I wish Lance the best in his future endeavors.”

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Statement by Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City:

"Republicans and Democrats have worked together over the past year in the evenly divided Senate to make sure the people's business gets done.

"While there will be disagreements on certain policy initiatives, I am confident that we can find common ground on some issues proposed by Senate Democrats today.

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“It has become apparent in recent weeks the Speaker has come under scrutiny for certain personal matters.

“If Rep. Cargill believes issues in his personal life are interfering with his ability to serve the people of this state, I believe he has made the best decision to step down from his duties as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“He has always treated me with respect and it has been a pleasure working with him on issues important to our state. I wish him well during this trying time, and will keep Lance and his family in my prayers.”

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State Senator Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, has filed legislation which would designate the first Monday of each month to honor veterans who are currently serving or were killed in the global war on terrorism.

Senate Bill 1134 asks all state agencies, interested organizations, civic groups and individuals to fly the U.S. flag at half-mast in remembrance of those Oklahomans who are serving or who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces furtherance of victory in the global war on terror, particularly those who have died or have been wounded as a result of such service.

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State Senator Andrew Rice (D-OKC) today introduced “Steffanie’s Law,” a bill to require health insurance providers in the State of Oklahoma to cover routine care costs for patients participating in a clinical trial.

Rice said “Steffanie’s Law,” or Senate Bill 1521, would relieve Oklahoma families of the risk of losing their health insurance coverage by participating in clinical trials, which are in some cases the best available treatment for their illness. Currently, most insurance companies deny coverage of routine health care costs once a patient joins a clinical trial.

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State Senator Bill Brown wants to reduce the number of alcohol- and other intoxicating substance-related deaths and accidents on Oklahoma’s lakes and rivers. He hopes to do this through Senate Bill 1140 which would require a conviction of boating while under the influence (BUI) to be made part of an individual’s driving record.

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“I sincerely appreciate the First Lady’s and Governor Henry’s continued commitment to public education, specifically their hard work towards getting Oklahoma teacher salaries to at least the regional average. However, I believe we should be even more aggressive because the regional average is a moving target. As soon as we pass the $1,200 pay raise proposed, that amount will be matched, if not surpassed by our neighboring states.”

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“Governor Henry is to be commended for his commitment to keeping the promise we made to Oklahoma teachers to raise their pay to the regional average.”

“Senate Democrats have always supported better pay for our teachers because we fundamentally understand greater opportunities for all Oklahomans begin with smart and bold investments in education.

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Members of the Oklahoma State Senate’s Republican Rural Caucus released today their policy agenda for the 2008 legislative session, which includes their “Vision for Improving the Quality of Life in Rural Oklahoma.”

The Republican Rural Caucus’ agenda calls for more funding for county roads and bridges, opposing forced school consolidation, attracting and keeping physicians in rural Oklahoma, among others.

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State Senator Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee, has filed legislation that would require property owners to clean up homes that were once methamphetamine lab sites before renting out the residences.

Senate Bill 1728 is the result of an interim study involving the Department of Environmental Equality concerning hazardous material remediation, said Ballenger, who serves as Democratic co-chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

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While the people of Oklahoma voted in favor of a statewide lottery in 2004, it has consistently failed to produce the amount of education revenue supporters had claimed it would. That’s why Sen. John Ford, who represents Craig, Nowata and Washington Counties, has filed legislation that could result in the privatization of the lottery.

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Final Figures for 2008 Senate Bills

When the State Senate convenes on Monday, February 4, for the 2008 legislative session, members will have 1,069 new Senate bills and 31 Senate joint resolutions to consider. The final measures were filed by about 8:45 p.m. Thursday, January 17, the final date for filing legislation this year.

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State Sen. Kenneth Corn has filed legislation to create Oklahoma’s “Second Century Promise.” The program will target students who currently do not qualify for Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program, formerly known as OHLAP.

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Thursday, January 17 marks the deadline for members of the Oklahoma State Senate to file legislation for the 2008 session, the second of the 51st Legislature. By 5 p.m., 969 bills and 22 joint resolutions had been filed, with staff members expected to work into the evening filing the final measures. There were also 806 Senate bills and joint resolutions carried over from the 2007 session. In 2007, the Senate considered 1,130 new Senate bills as well as 32 Senate Joint Resolutions.

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