In light of a December ruling by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that will have a damaging affect on Oklahoma industries, Senator Ron Justice (R-Chickasha) and Senator Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) call on fellow legislators to join in the fight to protect the state’s economic stability.
The members and staff of the Oklahoma State Senate are mourning the passing of long-time Senate webmaster, Charles Israel. Israel, 48, had battled Muscular Dystrophy for years, yet diligently carried out his responsibilities managing the Senate website even as the illness progressed. He also was the point-man for Executive Nominations heard by the Senate, ensuring proper protocol was followed at all stages of the process. Israel passed away early Wednesday morning after suffering a massive stroke late Tuesday afternoon while at work.
The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan support today to Senate Bill 2330, authored by Senator John Ford, which gives local empowerment to education professionals, bringing them together to improve Oklahoma’s education system.
Senate Bill 2330 is a voluntary measure that gives an individual school or a group of schools the opportunity to opt out of programs or state unfunded mandates within their given districts. By opting out, this allows them to save money or maximize the education experience.read more.
Three resolutions, SJR 58, SJR 59 and SJR 64, expressing opposition to the health care legislation currently moving through Congress, including a resolution offering Oklahomans an opportunity to opt-out of the mandates imposed by Obamacare, passed the Senate today. Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee (R-OKC) offered two resolutions, and Senator Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) sponsored the opt-out resolution.
“This is an important debate to have in Oklahoma today,” said Coffee. “Washington has turned a deaf ear to the people this monstrosity would most directly effect.read more.
The full Senate has given approval to a bill designed to help more Oklahoma students complete high school. Senate Bill 2139 was approved unanimously on Tuesday. Sen. John Ford, author of the measure, said that currently of 100 students beginning as freshmen in Oklahoma, on average only 75 complete high school.read more.
The Senate welcomed Miss Oklahoma 2009 Taylor Treat to the Oklahoma State Senate Tuesday. Sen. Susan Paddack presented the University of Oklahoma senior with Senate Resolution 84 recognizing her many talents and accomplishments.
"This is a special day. The Treat family have been life-long friends. I’ve known the family since before there was a Taylor Treat,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “There are a lot of people who are beauty queens but Taylor Treat is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She is an amazing young woman who has made us so proud in Ada.”
With as many as 17,000 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States each year, those captives wind up in every state in the nation, including Oklahoma. That’s according to Sen. Clark Jolley who won approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday for a measure directed at human trafficking. A second measure, by Sen. Todd Lamb was approved by both chambers last session and is awaiting final consideration in the 2010 session.
The pieces of the puzzle are all there, but in order to create a more successful economic picture, Oklahoma needs to do a better job of putting those pieces together, according to Sen. Jay Paul Gumm.
The senator from Durant has won unanimous Senate Appropriations Committee approval for Senate Bill 1723. The measure, approved Wednesday, would create the Oklahoma Entrepreneurship Network and grant qualifying towns the title of Entrepreneur Ready Community.
A measure supporters say will reduce recidivism and help more Oklahomans pursue better employment opportunities is awaiting consideration by the full Senate. The legislation, Senate Bill 2070, is authored by Business and Labor Chairman Harry Coates. The Seminole Republican said the bill was suggested by an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization, The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM), which works to help former inmates reenter society. SB 2070 won committee approval on Monday.
The Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved two measures Wednesday to help discourage members of the Legislature from voting on bills that could personally or financially benefit them. Sen. Andrew Rice, author of SJR 53 and SB 1671, says his bills are an effort to keep members honest while at the same time helping increase public trust in the legislative process.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow Oklahoma law enforcement officials to monitor the state’s most dangerous sex offenders through electronic monitoring devices.read more.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation allowing for expungement of a person’s criminal record if the offense was a nonviolent felony, the person has not been convicted of subsequent crimes and ten years have passed since the initial conviction.
Sen. Joe Sweeden said his proposal would empower people to rebuild their lives after they have paid their debt to society.read more.
SB 1862, the charter school expansion bill authored by Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, passed out of the Appropriations Committee today.
The bill will give the mayors of Oklahoma’s two largest cities chartering authority, while removing the number of caps on allowed charter schools, a major education reform that will increase opportunity for students and parents in the state’s two largest cities.
Key points of SB 1862 include:
· Allow municipalities with a population of 300,000 or more to sponsor/authorize charter schools;read more.
The state Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution congratulating Rumble the Bison on his first birthday with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and declaring February 17, 2010, “Rumble the Bison Day”.
Sen. Constance N. Johnson is encouraging her legislative colleagues to consider legislation that would establish alternative placement programs for non-violent offenders in Oklahoma. Johnson said alternative placement could ultimately reduce some of the state’s funding obligations to the Department of Corrections.
Johnson has filed Senate Bill 2329, making persons convicted of non-violent and drug-related crimes eligible for the Non Violent Offender Alternative Placement program.read more.
Last week the Senate approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 41, by Majority Floor Leader Todd Lamb, which opposes federal cap and trade proposals that could be detrimental to Oklahoma’s economic growth.read more.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has given unanimous approval to legislation mandating a two year cooling off period before a former lawmaker could become a lobbyist. State Sen. Debbe Leftwich is the author of Senate Bill 847. She’s championed the bill since first becoming a member, introducing the legislation three separate times, but this is the first year the bill has been heard in committee.
The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved legislation Monday to stop tax fraud in the state when employers improperly misclassify workers as “independent contractors” to avoid paying unemployment and other taxes. Senate Bill 1384, by Sen. Andrew Rice, would allow the Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court and Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to share information and coordinate investigative and enforcement efforts in order to find employers who intentionally misclassify individuals as independent contractors rather than employees.