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Press Releases

Showing: March, 2011


State Senators John Ford, Clark Jolley and Dan Newberry said they were honored to author education reform initiatives championed by Gov. Mary Fallin and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.


Bush visited Oklahoma last August to outline reform policies that had made a dramatic difference in student achievement in his state. Wednesday he returned to Oklahoma to join Fallin, Sen. President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, House Speaker Kris Steele and Superintendent Janet Barresi at a State Capitol press conference promoting legislation aimed at improving public education.

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In a bipartisan vote of 41 to 6, the full Senate has approved a second measure to help boost Oklahomas aerospace industry. Like Senate Bill 3, House Bill 1008 will restore tax credits for the creation of new aerospace engineering positions in Oklahoma. Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, is principal Senate author for both pieces of legislation.

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Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Tom Ivester says his fellow caucus members stand with Gov. Mary Fallin in her efforts to hold state budget cuts between three and five percent. While Republican leaders have said agencies will likely have to face cuts of 7 to 10 percent when the 2012 fiscal year begins in July, Ivester said cuts of that size would be devastating to state services.

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The State House approved two lawsuit reform bills today authored by Senator Anthony Sykes, R-Moore. By votes of 64 to 32 and 65 to 30, SB 862 and SB 865 received broad support from the full House. The bills will now proceed to the Governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 862 will eliminate joint and several liability, while Senate Bill 865 will require that a jury be given information regarding the tax impact of awards.

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Calling it “horrific and tasteless,” State Sen. David Holt said the AFL-CIO and IAFF labor unions should stop airing a television commercial that uses images of the Oklahoma City Bombing to encourage opposition to legislation reforming how cities negotiate with employees.

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Today the Senate Rules Committee passed a lawsuit reform measure critical to the Senate Republican Jobs agenda. The Rules Committee approved HB 2128 by a vote of 11 to 5.

“I am pleased by the efforts of my colleagues who chose to make this critical issue a priority,” said Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, who is the Senate author of the bill. “This is a vital piece of our economic development and jobs agenda, and I appreciate the compromise that we were able to garner on the issue between the Senate and the House.”

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“The approval of this legislation sends a clear message to the people of our state: Oklahoma Republicans do not trust you to be fair and make good decisions in the jury box.

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Rural Water Districts would no longer have to pay to use water controlled by the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) under legislation unanimously approved recently in the Senate. Sen. Kim David, author of Senate Bill 248, said the legislation has been needed for some time to even the playing field between the Rural Water Districts and local municipalities.

“Certain municipalities have already been allowed to take water from the Grand River for free so it only seems right that all municipalities and Oklahoma Rural Water Districts receive equal treatment,” said David, R-Wagoner.

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The full Senate has given its support to a bill that would make it illegal to text while driving. State Sen. Jerry Ellis is the author of Senate Bill 146 which was approved on a vote of 32 to 9 on Wednesday.

This isnt a new problem, but it is a growing problem, and the public is seeing first-hand how texting while driving increases the chance of being in an accident, said Ellis, D-Valliant.

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Today the Oklahoma Senate approved a bill that will give businesses and individuals the opportunity to play a role in providing quality education for Oklahoma children. Known as the “Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act,” Senate Bill 969 by Senator Dan Newberry, R-Sand Springs, passed with bi-partisan support by a vote of 30 to 14.

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The Oklahoma State Senate concluded official business Wednesday, one day before the required deadline to hear all Senate bills that had passed committee. Constitutionally, the Senate or House must receive approval from the opposite chamber in order to adjourn from legislative business early.

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Senate approves pension reform

The full Senate has taken a major step toward addressing Oklahoma’s $16 billion unfunded pension liability with unanimous approval Wednesday of a major reform measure.

State Sen. Mike Mazzei is the author of Senate Bill 891 and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Pensions. He said the biggest part of that $16 billion in unfunded liability is in the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS), with $10 billion in unfunded liability.

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The full Senate has given approval to a measure letting voters decide whether to cut the growth of annual property tax valuations. Senate Joint Resolution 5, by Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, would give voters the option of lowering the current property valuation cap from a maximum of five percent to three percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

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Sen. Ralph Shortey has won full Senate approval for Senate Bill 908, which would establish criminal forfeiture provisions for crimes related to illegal immigration.

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The Senate unanimously approved a measure Wednesday to send to a vote of the people a constitutional amendment to remove the Governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders. Sen. Josh Brecheen, author of Senate Joint Resolution 25, said the measure would help speed up the parole process as well as save the state millions.

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Sen. Ralph Shortey on Monday successfully amended a measure to require that presidential primary candidates provide proof of natural-born United States citizenship upon filing with the state election board.

Shortey added the provision to Senate Bill 91, which would require candidates for public office to provide photo ID and proof of eligibility to hold office.

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A bill to reduce Oklahoma’s drunk driving fatalities has cleared the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives. Dixie and Keith Swezey, of Edmond, and other family members watched from the Senate Gallery as lawmakers voted unanimously for Senate Bill 529, the Erin Elizabeth Swezey Act. The bill is named for the Swezeys’ 20-year-old daughter, Erin, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2009.

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The full Senate gave approval to a bill that will allow the Senate President Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House to adjust per diem rates given to legislative members.

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The Senate gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 251 Monday, which would make college more affordable for members of Oklahoma’s National Guard and Oklahoma Reserves who live in surrounding states. The measure, by Sen. Steve Russell, creates the “Armed Services Tuition Fairness Act”.

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The Senate unanimously approved legislation last week to better protect citizens from domestic violence. Senate Bill 447 would require a court to schedule a full hearing on a protective order petition within 14 days of the filing rather than twenty, which is current law.

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