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Press Releases

Showing: February, 2013

A trio of bills were unanimously approved Thursday by the full Senate in an effort to improve services at the state’s seven veterans centers. Sen. Frank Simpson, the measures’ author and chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, said the bills are in response to issues brought forth during the Senate Veterans Committee interim study of ODVA this fall.

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The “Parent Empowerment Act,” has passed its first hurdle in the Legislature. The bipartisan bill, SB 1001, authored by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa, will give Oklahoma parents a new tool to accomplish dramatic and positive change in their child’s underperforming school. The bill was approved 7-3 by the Senate Education Committee on Monday.

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Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement Wednesday following the passage of Senate Bill 1062, the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act, in the full Senate. The legislation, authored by Pro Tem Bingman, was passed by a vote of 34-12 and now heads to the House of Representatives.

Currently, 17 members of the state Senate have signed on as co-authors of the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a measure that would create the Oklahoma Office of Privatization. Senate Bill 1008 creates the office under the regulatory authority of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES).

Sen. Greg Treat, author of the proposal, explained that the Office of Privatization will serve as a repository for privatization and surplus asset sales practices. Additionally, the Office will evaluate and respond to privatization proposals and oversee contracting for such opportunities.

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A measure that would have helped ease the pain and suffering of thousands of Oklahomans by providing them access to alternative medicine was killed Monday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Senate Bill 710 would have legalized the use of medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor in the state. The bill’s author, Sen. Constance N. Johnson has been advocating for this issue for the past seven years and was pleased that it was finally given a hearing by the committee.

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Sen. Patrick Anderson today praised the efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), and Director Gary Ridley, to clear roads following Monday’s blizzard. The storm has made travel difficult in North and Northwestern Oklahoma, but ODOT crews are plowing and treating roads to make them passable.

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State Sen. Earl Garrison says a bill approved in the Senate Education Committee will abolish due process rights for public school support staff. Currently, those working in support positions are “at will” employees for their first year of employment—after that they have limited due process rights. Senate Bill 230, which was approved on Monday, would completely eliminate those rights.

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Sen. Constance N. Johnson has filed bills to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana in Oklahoma since 2006 and none of those measures were ever given a hearing in a Senate committee until this year. The Oklahoma County democrat is pleased that the Senate Health and Human Services Committee has finally agreed to give the issue a hearing. Senate Bill 710, creating the “Compassionate Use Act of 2013”, will be heard Monday afternoon in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee following session.

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The state Senate today approved legislation that would bar the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts. Senate Bill 1015 states that courts shall not enforce any foreign law as a means of mitigating punishment or providing justification for the commission of a crime.

Sen. Dan Newberry, author of the measure, said the bill was written to preserve constitutional rights and guarantees for those who enter Oklahoma courts.

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The Senate Committee on General Government has approved legislation that would send to a vote of the people a proposal to make the offices of state superintendent, labor commissioner and insurance commissioner gubernatorial appointments.

Sen. Greg Treat, author of Senate Bill 598, said the reforms would broaden accountability by allowing the governor to be more fully responsible for the functions of the executive branch.

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The Senate General Government Committee has given unanimous approval to a measure allowing cities and counties to ban smoking on government property. Senator Frank Simpson, R-Springer is the author of Senate Bill 501, which was approved on Monday—just a week after that same committee voted overwhelmingly against a bill which would have given local government the authority to ban smoking in private businesses as well as government owned properties.

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The full Senate is the next stop for a bill creating two pilot programs to help Oklahoma National Guardsmen returning from duty with either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Sen. Brian Crain, Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee won passage for Senate Bill 527 in Senate Appropriations on Wednesday. He said the University of Oklahoma would administer the programs.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Connie Johnson has been appointed to serve as Chair of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL) Health Committee for 2013-2014. Sen. Johnson was appointed by NBCSL President Joe Armstrong of Tennessee because of her extensive work in the area of health care at the annual conferences where she regularly introduces resolutions addressing issues important to American’s health. Over the years, Sen.

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Senate approves Safe Compounding Act

The state Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that will require out-of-state compounding pharmacies that deliver, dispense, or distribute prescription drugs in Oklahoma to submit an affidavit and pharmacy site inspection form to receive a license.

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The Senate Appropriations Committees approved Senate Bill 576 Wednesday to change how school district funding is calculated. Currently, school districts can use the highest weighted average daily membership (ADM) of either of the previous two years, or the first nine weeks.

Under SB 576, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, school districts could only use the previous year or first nine weeks’ weighted ADM for the purposes of calculating the State Aid formula.

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In a year where almost 2,500 bills were introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature, one bill, Senate Bill 310, aims to shrink the Oklahoma statute books. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee passed SB 310 by a 15-4 vote, taking the first step toward creating a “Spring Cleaning Commission” for the state of Oklahoma.

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As Oklahoma struggles with one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, Sen. Ron Justice has filed legislation to provide the agriculture community with financial assistance in emergency drought conditions. Senate Bill 996, which was approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee, would create the Emergency Drought Protection Special Fund.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has given unanimous approval to a bill restoring Oklahoma State Department of Health inspections at state-run veterans’ centers. Sen. Frank Simpson is principal author of Senate Bill 629, which was approved Wednesday on a vote of 18-0.

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9/11 G.I. Bill approved in committee

Oklahoma currently has over 100 one-hundred-percent disabled veterans who have been injured while serving in the line of duty and over 100 veterans who have been killed-in-action since September 11, 2001. In order to provide some financial assistance to these brave individuals and their families as well as to those surviving spouses and children of those killed-in-action, Sen. Frank Simpson filed Senate Bill 486 this year creating the 9/11 G.I. Bill.

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In order to ensure Oklahoma’s veterans are receiving the best possible care at state veterans centers, Sen. Frank Simpson filed Senate Bill 228 this year. The bill, which creates the Quality Workforce for Oklahoma’s Heroes Act, received unanimous approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday. SB 228 authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to establish education and training programs for positions critical to the quality care of veterans residing within Department institutions.

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