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Press Releases

Showing: February, 2012

After an emotional debate in the State Senate on Tuesday, members voted to disapprove a plan critics say could cause the deaths of some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. House Concurrent Resolution 1030, by Rep. Lisa Billy and Sen. Susan Paddack, was an effort to block a Department of Human Services (DHS) proposal the lawmakers said would ultimately force the closure of SORC, the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, in Pauls Valley.

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Senate members of the Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee have approved a $92.5 million supplemental funding bill for education and public safety, including $5,000 bonuses for National Board Certified (NBC) teachers. Senate Appropriations Chair Clark Jolley thanked committee members for their support of the legislation.

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Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage said funding National Board Certification bonuses for teachers and other critical needs in state government is the right thing to do. His comments followed Tuesday’s vote by Senate members of the Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee in favor of Senate Bill 1959. The $92.5 million funding bill will provide additional dollars needed to meet obligations in a variety of areas, including education and public safety.

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State Capitol, Oklahoma City –Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement Monday following TransCanada’s announcement of reapplication for a Presidential Permit application to complete the Keystone XL pipeline project as well as TransCanada’s intent to proceed with construction of a pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This section of pipeline is projected to create more than one thousand direct jobs in Oklahoma alone.

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The voting rights of convicted felons in Oklahoma will continue to be suspended for the length of time prescribed in the judgment and sentence, including time on probation or parole. Senate Bill 1307, by Sen. Constance N. Johnson, was defeated earlier this week by the Senate Rules Committee. The bill would have restored felons’ voting rights when they are no longer in prison. Also known as the Oklahoma Restoration of Voting Rights Act, the bill mirrors legislation, S. 2017, introduced by Democrat Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

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Inmate cremation bill heads to House

A measure to save the state Department of Corrections (DOC) thousands of dollars each year was unanimously approved in the Senate Thursday. Senate Bill 1069, by Sen. Don Barrington, would authorize the DOC to deduct the cost of inmate cremations from the individuals’ acquired funds.

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Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, won approval from his colleagues in the Republican caucus on Wednesday to fill the position of Assistant Majority Floor Leader. The role was vacated when Sen. Clark Jolley was appointed to head the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee.

“I am honored that my fellow Republican Senators trusted me with this position, and I look forward to serving,” said Johnson. “Being a part of the Senate leadership team is a great responsibility, and I am grateful to my colleagues for their support.”

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Former State Rep. Al McAffrey is officially the newest member of the Oklahoma State Senate. McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, won the District 46 seat in a special election held February 14. The State Election Board certified the results on Tuesday, February 21, clearing the way for McAffrey to take the Oath of Office.

“When I looked at all the committee votes that were scheduled, I wanted the citizens of my district to have a voice as soon as possible. Supreme Court Justice

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Senate committee advances Caylee’s Law

The state Senate today approved legislation requiring parents or guardians to report that a child has gone missing within a 48-hour period. Authored by Sen. Ralph Shortey, “Caylee’s Law” was motivated by the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony, who was convicted of lying to police regarding the disappearance of her daughter.

Senate Bill 1721 would create a felony for failing to report a child’s disappearance to law enforcement.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would arm law enforcement officials with additional tools to fight meth manufacturers while protecting citizens’ access to the medicines they need.

Senate Bill 1634, authored by Sen. Rick Brinkley, would limit over-the-counter purchases of pseudoephedrine, without making the substance available by prescription only. Under Brinkley’s proposal, pseudoephedrine purchases would be limited to 3.6 grams in a single day, and 7.2 grams per month - the recommended therapeutic dosage.

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On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved a measure which would encourage more public facilities to open their doors to the public during natural disasters. Senate Bill 1316, by Sen. Ron Justice, would modify the Governmental Tort Claims Act by adding an exemption from liability for cities, towns, counties or other entities that open public buildings up to citizens during emergencies like tornadoes.

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The Joint Committee on Federal Health Care Law delivered its final report to legislative leadership today after spending the legislative interim studying the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the effect it will have on Oklahoma.

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“If we further decrease or eliminate the state income tax, it will require offsets in order to continue meeting current levels of funding for core services, such as education, transportation, public safety and health and mental health. Those pushing for reductions claim eliminating tax breaks and credits will do it. The math just doesn’t add up.

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Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement after Tuesday’s State Equalization Board meeting. According to the final certification, $6.5 billion in revenue will be available for state budgeting in fiscal year 2013, which represents an increase of $47.2 million.

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“Senate Republicans believe lowering the income tax toward elimination over time will make Oklahoma the destination for business and economic growth,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “We simply cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity. I applaud Senators Mazzei and Jolley for their conservative leadership on the issue of meaningful tax reform. I look forward to continued discussion of these important pro-growth, pro-jobs proposals.”

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The Senate Finance Committee has approved two measures reforming Oklahoma’s income tax laws. Legislation approved by the committee on Tuesday includes Senate Bill 1623, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and Senate Bill 1571, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond.

SB 1623 lowers the state income tax over a two-year period and eliminates most special interest tax preferences. Mazzei said the bill is the result of the Legislature’s Task Force on Comprehensive Tax Reform.

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State Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, principal author of SB 1433, issued the following statement after the full Senate approved the measure on Wednesday.

“With this bill, Oklahoma law will follow what Missouri has done for the last 23 years. It will not stop stem cell research. It will not prohibit birth control. It does make a very simple, yet profound statement that life begins at conception.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a measure to simplify the criteria required for students to be eligible for in-state tuition at Oklahoma colleges and universities.

Sen. John Sparks, author of Senate Bill 1624, said the proposal would make it easier for students to attend the Oklahoma college or university of their choice. Under his proposal, Sparks said, if a student is a United States citizen and graduates from an Oklahoma high school, they will be eligible for in-state tuition rates.

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"With this vote the Senate made a loud and clear statement—we believe life begins at conception. We believe in protecting the unborn," said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. "Oklahoma is a conservative pro-life state—we are proud to stand up for what we know is right. This bill is one of many Senate Republicans have advanced which affirms the right to life and I am proud to support it."

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Sen. Patrick Anderson is predicting that the $26 million bond issue that was approved by the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight is headed to the courthouse.

“Thursday’s action by the Council of Bond Oversight to rescind its prior decision to consult the Oklahoma legislature regarding the issuance of this bond issue opens the door to litigation on this matter,” said Anderson, R-Enid.

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