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Press Releases

Showing: February, 2009

The State Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday to help save Oklahoma's counties and municipalities thousands of dollars that are lost each year through the vandalism of signs and other property. Senate Bill 348, by Sen. David Myers, would allow counties and municipalities to offer higher rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals for such crimes.

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The State Senate approved legislation Thursday to help prepare the state Capitol for its second century. The building will celebrate the centennial of its official opening in 2017, but Sen. Harry Coates is concerned that years of poor maintenance could keep the structure from being habitable in its second century.

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Tax relief could soon be on its way for Oklahoma military families following unanimous approval of legislation by the State Senate Thursday to provide an income tax exemption for serving military personnel. Sen Steve Russell, a retired Army infantryman and combat veteran, is author of Senate 881 and believes his bill would not only help military families, but the state’s economy.

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Legislation by Sen. Randy Brogdon calling for the end of federal mandates and programs that usurp states’ rights is gaining national attention. The Owasso Republican said Senate Joint Resolution 10 has struck a chord, not only with Oklahomans, but with people from around the country. The Washington Post, Washington Times, the Boston Globe and Reuters are among the many news organizations that have interviewed Brogdon about SJR 10. Brogdon said Congress has overstepped its powers as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and eroded the sovereignty of individual states.

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More Oklahoma students could qualify for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) under legislation approved Thursday by the Senate. SB 354, by Sen. David Myers, would modify the state tuition program by allowing the income requirement to be based on a family’s yearly salary or a three-year average.

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State Senator Steve Russell has won support in the Senate for a bill to create more uniformity in adoptions and ensure full disclosure of fees. Senate Bill 1029, by Sen. Steve Russell, was approved unanimously Thursday. Russell, R-Oklahoma City, is an adoptive parent, and said the measure could actually result in lower costs for private adoptions.

Russell noted that a grand jury investigation had exposed instances of financial exploitation of Oklahomans who were seeking private adoptions.

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Legislation that would create Oklahoma’s first-ever Children’s Cabinet moved one step closer to becoming law when the state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 697 on Wednesday.

The measure would streamline services for state agencies and organizations serving Oklahoma children. Gumm said the Cabinet would ensure state agencies are maximizing the resources at their disposal to provide improved services.

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Senators Constance N. Johnson, Judy Eason McIntyre and other members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus announced at the state Capitol on Wednesday that the group has filed a complaint of discrimination against the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The group’s letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation cites substantial evidence of past and continuing discrimination against racial and ethnic minority owned, and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses and contractors.

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State Sen. Randy Brogdon has received unanimous approval for a measure linking drug testing as a condition of eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. The measure was approved by the full Senate on Wednesday. Brogdon, R-Owasso, said the measure would ultimately strengthen families by getting those addicted to drugs into treatment.

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The federal stimulus package will soften the effects of the recession on Oklahoma's budget for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. That's according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Mike Johnson following a committee briefing for the full Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

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The number of Oklahoma students getting their education through the internet is growing, and Sen. Gary Stanislawski wants to ensure the education those students are receiving is the same quality as what can be obtained in the classroom. read more.

Two measures that would have provided assistance to Oklahoma veterans have failed to receive a hearing prior to the February 19 deadline for approval of legislation in Senate committees.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved legislation by Sen. Bill Brown that would lower the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for the offense of boating under the influence from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent. Also approved this week was Brown’s measure to prohibit alcohol on all public high school campuses in Oklahoma.

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Coffee Appoints Ethics Commissioner

President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee announced Thursday that he is appointing Bob McKinney as a new Ethics Commissioner.

McKinney and his wife Marguerite have been married for 21 years and have three sons. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Finance. McKinney has served as Senior Executive Vice President at RCB Bank in Claremore since 2002, with over 41 years of banking experience.

McKinney is a community leader in Claremore, including Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Claremore Regional Hospital.

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More of Oklahoma's students could have the opportunity to pursue a higher education thanks to a measure approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sen. Mary Easley is author of Senate Bill 471 which would increase the income eligibility level for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), also known as Oklahoma’s Promise.

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Child Endangerment Bill Heads to Senate

Sen. Mary Easley has authored legislation amending the definition of child endangerment to include parents or guardians knowingly letting their children ride in vehicles operated by people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 1138 Wednesday.

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State Senator Jerry Ellis called Wednesday’s ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a major victory for second amendment rights and the rights of Oklahomans. The federal panel’s ruling upheld state law that allowed workers to have legal firearms in their locked vehicles. Ellis, D-Valliant, filed the original legislation when he was a freshman member of the House of Representatives.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Wednesday to help make Oklahoma's prisons safer. Sen. Don Barrington is author of Senate Bill 1064 which would ban cell phones and any other electronic devices capable of sending or receiving any electronic communication in prisons.

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The full Senate is the next stop for legislation cracking down on unlicensed drivers who hurt or kill someone while behind the wheel. State Sen. Debbe Leftwich is the author of Senate Bill 1170, which increases the penalty for a person who causes the injury or death of a person while driving with a license that has been suspended, revoked, canceled or denied. The measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

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College and Career Tech Students Would Benefit

Senator John Sparks (D-Norman) has filed a measure intended to eliminate the state income taxes paid by full time Higher Education and Career Technology students.

“We need to do all we can for students who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Sparks. “Approval of this legislation would send a clear message that the Legislature wants Oklahomans to become better educated and we’re here to help.”

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