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Press Releases

Showing: January, 2012

Sen. Harry Coates is frustrated by recent suggestions that the legislature have the citizens of Oklahoma vote to pass a bond issue to fix the State Capitol building. Coates, who has been fighting for Capitol repairs for years, believes this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the legislature and quickly, not by the people in November.

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“I applaud Insurance Commissioner Doak and state legislative leaders who have worked diligently over the last year to address this gap and ensure access to health coverage for our youngest citizens.

As a father and grandfather, I know how important it is for infants to have proper medical care. The care they receive in their first year will impact them the rest of their lives. This is why it’s so imperative that we make sure all of Oklahoma’s babies have access to high quality medical care and that can only be possible through having proper health coverage.

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Senator David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 75, which proposes an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would give local taxpayers or their elected representatives the final approval before any local tax dollars are spent. If approved by the Legislature, the amendment would appear on the November, 2012 ballot for consideration by the voters of Oklahoma. The proposal is dubbed the “Lincoln Amendment” after the President who declared that the American government was “by the people” and “for the people.”

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Unsafe at any speed

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Transportation Division 7, which includes Caddo, Grady, Comanche, Cotton, Stephens, Jefferson, Murray, Carter, and Love counties, has identified the twenty-five most dangerous highways in that district.

Number nine on the list of the twenty-five most dangerous highways is State Highway 53 in Carter County between Fox and Interstate 35.  In seven years, there have been 56 accidents on this stretch of SH-53.

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Sen. Sean Burrage, Democratic Leader of the State Senate, issued the following statement after Department of Human Services Director Howard Hendrick announced he would retire from that position at the end of February.

“Howard Hendrick has spent a quarter of a century of his life in public service, first as a member of the State Senate for 12 years and then as DHS Director for the past 13 years. I want to thank him for that service and dedication and wish Howard and his family the very best as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

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Each year, thousands of Oklahoma school students take their end-of-instruction tests in order to be able to graduate. In an effort to help more students get their high school diploma and provide educators with more classroom time for teaching, Sen. Harry Coates has filed Senate Bill 1093.

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The deadline for members of the Oklahoma State Senate to file legislation for the second session of the 53rd Legislature was 4 p.m. Thursday, January 19. A total of 972 bills and 45 joint resolutions were filed with 753 Senate Bills and 41 Senate Joint Resolutions carried over from the 2011 session.

Under Senate rules, appropriations bills are not subject to the deadlines pertaining to substantive (policy) bills. Last year, 976 substantive bills and 45 joint resolutions were filed by the 2011 deadline.

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On Wednesday, Sen. Jim Wilson filed legislation to ensure access to individual health insurance for Oklahoma children. The Tahlequah Democrat said his bill is in response to the new rule allowing insurance companies writing policies in Oklahoma to avoid the Affordable Care Act requirement to offer health insurance for all children without regard to the child’s health status or condition.

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Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars are doled out to help Oklahoma families in need through public assistance programs. Some of these funds are given to individuals through fraudulent means who do not qualify for them. Sen. Josh Brecheen plans to help address some of the waste through two bills filed this week.

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Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, has filed Senate Bill 1312. The measure makes it a crime if a person witnesses the sexual assault of child but fails to report the incident to police.

“In Oklahoma, if you witness a child being molested, you are required to report it to the Department of Human Services,” Marlatt said. “That simply isn’t enough. Until the perpetrator is arrested, there’s nothing to stop him from abusing that child or seeking out other victims. My legislation would require the person witnessing such a crime to call the police or local sheriff.”

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A bill filed Thursday could help public housing authorities collect debts owed to them by tenants. Senate Bill 1019, by Sen. Earl Garrison and Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, would allow public housing authorities to file claims with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to deduct debts owed to them from tenants’ personal income tax refunds.

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Four first-term Senators have jointly filed a bill to implement the plan proposed by legendary economist Dr. Arthur Laffer to phase out the Oklahoma income tax.
SB 1587 is authored by Senators David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, Greg Treat R-Oklahoma City, Rob Johnson, R-Oklahoma City, and Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate. It would lower the Oklahoma income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 2.25 percent in 2013, and then gradually lower it until the rate is zero in 2022.

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Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today filed legislation that would allow Oklahoma voters to decide whether the state should take on an additional $40 million in debt to fund the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) in Oklahoma City.

AICCM, a state agency, last year requested a $40 million bond to complete construction of the facility. If approved, the bond would have brought the state’s total investment in the project to $107 million, all of which has been funded through bond issues.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Gary Stanislawski is reminding citizens to take advantage of his legislation expanding Oklahoma’s Do-Not-Call registry.  The registry, first created in 2003, was originally created to give Oklahomans relief from seemingly endless telemarketing calls.

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Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to make the Oklahoma Legislature subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. Those two statutes have long provided transparency to all levels of government, but not the Legislature, which exempted itself.

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“Media reports of the president's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline confirms what Oklahomans already know: Obama cares more about his re-election prospects than our nation's energy independence and the hundreds of thousands of jobs this project would create.

“Pandering to far-left environmentalists might please the president's friends at MoveOn.org, but it won't help relieve the glut of crude oil in Cushing,
won't create jobs for Oklahomans, and certainly won't make America's energy future secure."

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Newberry files debt reduction proposal

Sen. Dan Newberry has filed legislation aimed at reducing Oklahoma’s long term fiscal burden by guaranteeing a percentage of spillover funding is dedicated toward paying the state’s pension liability debt.

Senate Bill 1264 would take effect after the state’s Rainy Day Fund is full. The measure would then ensure that 33 percent of any spillover funding is applied toward the reduction of pension liability debt. Once pension liability is funded at 80 percent, the same percentage of spillover funding would be dedicated to reducing the state’s bonded indebtedness.

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Sen. Ralph Shortey today issued the following statement in response to criticism of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak by Oklahoma Senate Democrats.

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Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, announced Thursday that he cannot accept the emergency rules handed down from Commissioner Doak and Governor Fallin as Oklahoma’s best effort to fix the problems surrounding the child-only insurance market. A pair of bills being filed offer a path forward without leaving newborns out in the cold. Burrage said that as many as 17 other states have faced a similar problem.

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After a Mississippi judge this week blocked the release of 21 inmates pardoned by former Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Harry Coates on Thursday pointed to the resulting controversy as a textbook example of why Oklahoma should remove the governor from the parole process. Barbour issued more than 200 pardons just days before leaving office.

Four of those pardoned and released were convicted murderers, all of whom had worked at the governor’s mansion while serving their sentences in minimum security prisons.

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