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Press Releases

Showing: May, 2011

The Senate Republican Rural Caucus said the 2011 legislative session was extremely successful. On Friday, Rural Republicans announced their agenda accomplishments and expressed enthusiasm for the productive year that will expand their vision for improving the quality of life in rural Oklahoma.

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Gov. Mary Fallin has signed The Erin Swezey Act into law. Thursday, the governor approved Senate Bill 529 which is named for the 20-year-old Oklahoma State University student from Edmond who was killed in 2009 by a drunk driver with numerous DUI arrests and convictions.

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Today the Oklahoma Senate passed House Bill 2140, authored by President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa and House Speaker Kris Steele. The measure will consolidate administrative processes and help to eliminate duplication of services.

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Pro Tem happy about the direction of Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Senate adjourned today capping off a year of legislative victories that will mark the most successful session for government reform and conservative goals in the history of the state. Leading an ambitious caucus that aggressively delivered on goals that have been on Republicans’ agenda for decades, President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he was proud of the accomplishments.

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State Sen. Jim Reynolds has submitted his resignation from the State Legislature, effective July 1. Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, will begin his first term as Cleveland County Treasurer the first week of July after winning the post in the November 2010 election. Reynolds has represented the people of Cleveland and Oklahoma counties in Senate District 43 since 2000.

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The Erin Swezey Act is on its way to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk. Thursday both the House and Senate gave overwhelming support to Senate Bill 529, a measure named for a 20-year-old Oklahoma State University student from Edmond who was killed by a drunk driver in 2009.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, is principal author of SB 529. He authored the bill at the request of Erin’s parents, Keith and Dixie Swezey, who sought the greater use of mandatory interlock devices as a way to keep more drunk drivers off the road and reduce fatalities.

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In response to confusion surrounding the debate on a bond proposal for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM), Sen. Greg Treat today said it was time to include some important facts in the public dialogue. Senate leadership this week announced a proposed $40 million bond issue for the project would not be heard in the 2011 legislative session.

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Aubry Weatherly is a freshman at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee. Last week, she had the opportunity to spend four days at the State Capitol serving as a Senate page – the first student from her school to do so. She paged for Sen. Earl Garrison who represents Muskogee County where the school is located.

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Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice on Wednesday challenged Senate Republican leaders to allow a floor vote on a proposed $40 million state bond issue to complete construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

Rice said, "all 16 members of the Democratic caucus are ready to pass this important measure, and I challenge the Republicans to do the right thing and allow this measure to be heard on the floor of the state Senate."

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The study will focus on bonding priorities

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, announced plans to conduct an interim study for proposed bond issues. The senate leader opted for an interim study because various bond proposals were suggested this session and more information is needed about the bond packages before lawmakers consider the issues.

“We have a lot of capital needs in additional to existing bond obligations that need to be prioritized before we make decisions about additional bonding,” said Bingman.

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Senator Patrick Anderson today applauded Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman for his decision not to consider a $40 million bond issue this year for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Anderson recently requested that the State Auditor and Inspector conduct an audit regarding the use of state dollars for the construction of the facility.

To date, the state has issued over $63 million in bonds for the project.

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On Tuesday, the Governor signed Senate Bill 239, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, which will add more transparency to the petition process when any tax increase is being proposed.

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Following the Senate passage of House Bill 1953 on Tuesday, Sen. John Sparks said his successful amendment of the proposal marked a victory for transparency in state government. The bill establishes the Oklahoma Quick-Action Closing Fund, an economic development tool that would enable the Governor to use public funds to provide companies with a financial incentive to relocate to Oklahoma or expand existing facilities.

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The full Senate has given unanimous approval to legislation reforming Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system. State Senators Anthony Sykes and Patrick Anderson authored Senate Bill 878. Sykes presented the measure to the full Senate on Wednesday and said it was the result of several months of intensive work representing all entities with a stake in the system.

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The full Senate has given final approval to legislation to make the state more competitive when trying to attract major economic development projects. Sen. Mike Mazzei is principal Senate author of House Bill 1953.

“As we work to create jobs and grow Oklahoma’s economy, we need to make sure we take advantage of every tool available,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “This program has generated 3,000 new jobs and $100 million in capital investment in Arkansas.”

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With thirty years of legislative experience, first as a Senate staff person and then as a state legislator, Sen. Constance N. Johnson is looking forward to a new challenge. She was named by her peers last month as Chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus. Sen. Johnson assumed the chair position at the close of the 10th Biennial A.C. Hamlin Awards Banquet, their crowning event that is sponsored by the Black Caucus Foundation.

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Senate approves balanced budget

The full Senate has given its approval to a 2012 General Appropriations (GA) bill that will result in a balanced budget with minimal cuts to core services like education and public safety in the face of a $500 million shortfall.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman praised Appropriations Chair David Myers, R-Ponca City, for his leadership in a challenging budget year. He also praised Senate Republicans for supporting a fiscally conservative plan that will ultimately strengthen Oklahoma.

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"This is a sad day for Oklahoma. Despite bipartisan opposition to the 2012 budget, the measure was narrowly approved by the Senate on a vote of 26 to 17 on Tuesday. Republicans, who for the first time control both the executive and legislative branches of government, claim they had no choice but to slash the budget by $500 million. These are budgets that had already been cut to the bone in three previous rounds of cuts.

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Sen. Patrick Anderson has requested that the State Auditor and Inspector conduct an audit regarding the use of state dollars for the construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Anderson’s request follows Thursday’s Senate and House committee approval of legislation authorizing $40 million in state bond money for the ongoing construction project.

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“I am deeply concerned about the way the Senate Redistricting process was carried out this session. As the Senator for one of the state’s two minority districts and a member of the minority party, I feel that many opinions and requests on how districts should have been drawn have been ignored. The Senate passed the bill today and it now goes to the House for a vote.

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