With the Legislature not having approved a general pay increase for state employees since 2006, Sen. Ralph Shortey and Rep. Leslie Osborn on Friday called upon the governor and legislative leaders to make state employees a priority and give them a raise.
Senate Caucus Chair Tom Ivester announced Thursday that he has decided not to seek another term in the Oklahoma State Senate. Sen. Ivester, D-Sayre, issued the following comments on his decision:
My wife and I have decided that it is time to pass the torch off to someone else to serve the people of Senate District 26. After prayerful consideration over the holidays we made the decision that I will not run for reelection. My time in the Oklahoma State Senate has been a tremendous experience. It is an honor to represent the great people of southwest Oklahoma.
On January 14th of this year, we filed legislation that would prevent the sale of e-cigarettes and vapor products to anyone under the age of eighteen. E-cigarettes and vapor products will be added to the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Act as a nicotine delivery device.read more.
State Senator Connie Johnson has introduced a bill which would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 2116 would make the personal use, possession, and limited home-cultivation of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
National polls have shown a steady increase in support for taxing and regulating adult use of marijuana in recent years, with a majority of Americans now consistently supporting an end to its prohibition.
Sen. Rob Standridge recently spoke to the Norman chapter of Parents Helping Parents, an organization that provides support and resources for parents whose children are struggling with addiction. Standridge, also a pharmacist, last year authored legislation strengthening the state’s prescription monitoring program.
The Norman Republican said organizations like Parents Helping Parents are building invaluable support networks to combat the spread of addiction.
Oklahoma’s schools would be safer under legislation filed by Sen. Jabar Shumate. Senate Bill 1753 would prohibit anyone from bringing a concealed handgun onto school property regardless if they have a valid handgun license. Currently, those individuals with a valid handgun license who are just picking up or dropping off a student and not leaving their vehicle are allowed to bring a gun onto school property.
Although pulling people over for speeding and other traffic violations is a routine part of the job, former police officer Sen. Al McAffrey is all too familiar with how quickly a traffic stop can turn dangerous. For this reason, he has authored Senate Bill 1872, which would allow law enforcement officers to issue electronic citations for traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations as well as other law enforcement data.
Sen. Roger Ballenger announced Wednesday he will not seek another term in the Oklahoma State Senate. Although the Okmulgee Democrat would not have been term limited until 2018, Ballenger said at this point in his life, he has decided to devote his time and attention to his family, his ranch, and his local community.read more.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm has filed legislation to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms without a license. Dahm, R-Tulsa, explained Senate Bill 1473 is an effort to reaffirm Oklahomans’ Second Amendment rights.
In an effort to address growing discipline problems in public schools, Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation offering schools an alternative to suspending or expelling students for bad behavior. Senate Bill 1345 would allow school districts to voluntarily issue fines or community service to students who misbehave as punishment rather that giving them in-school or out-of-school suspension.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and the House Committee on Public Health will hold a joint hearing on Wednesday, January 22, to study the benefits of electronic cigarettes and vapor devices as aides in tobacco harm reduction. The committees, chaired by Sen. Brain Crain, R-Tulsa, and Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, worked closely together to schedule the hearing so key expert witnesses from around the country would be available to testify about the safety of these products.read more.
State Sen. Randy Bass has filed legislation giving Oklahomans control over whether to allow horse slaughter plants in their communities. Senate Joint Resolution 66 would require proposed equine slaughter facilities to be approved by a majority of qualified voters in the county where the facility is to be located.
A group of Republican lawmakers from the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a tax cut plan for consideration in the 2014 legislative session that will lower Oklahoma’s individual income tax rate to four percent within four years.
“Today, I learned along with many Oklahomans that Senator Tom Coburn will resign at the end of 2014. Although Senator Coburn and I did not always see eye to eye on every issue, I believe that he is a man of honor and integrity and he has had a distinguished career in Congress. He brought to the attention of the American people the waste and reckless spending that happens in government; and I believe that no matter the political party, we can all agree that wasteful spending hurts all Americans.read more.
The deadline for members of the Oklahoma State Senate to file legislation for the second session of the 54th Legislature was 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 16. By that deadline, 976 bills and 35 joint resolutions were filed. Last year at this time, a total of 1,119 bills and 34 joint resolutions were filed; 915 Senate Bills and 31 Senate Joint Resolutions still alive from the 2013 session will carry over into the 2014 session.
State Sens. Greg Treat and Josh Brecheen, who both served in the office of Sen. Tom Coburn, today commended their mentor for his accomplished record of service to his country and the state of Oklahoma. Coburn yesterday announced his intention to retire from the U.S. Senate after the current session of Congress.
Despite enthusiastic support for three upcoming passenger railroad trips between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in February, the Eastern Flyer could already be looking at the end of the line. Tulsa Republican Brian Crain was the Senate author of legislation passed in 2011 creating a task force examining restoration of passenger rail service between the two metros. Crain said he was extremely disappointed to learn that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), which owns the tracks, has set a January 30 deadline for bids to sell the rail line that will carry the Eastern Flyer.
Under current Oklahoma law in order for a veteran to be eligible for state veterans’ benefits, including admission to an Oklahoma Veterans Center, they must meet the definition of a war veteran. Oklahoma statutes define these as veterans who served in a branch of the U.S. military during a period of war including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars.
Sen. Patrick Anderson has authored legislation that would enable the state to sell the campuses of the Southern Oklahoma Resources Center (SORC) in Pauls Valley, and the Northern Oklahoma Resources Center (NORCE) in Enid. Both facilities, which are slated to be closed by the state, provide care for the severely mentally disabled. SORC is set to close this April and NORCE in August, 2015.
Anderson said that after the 2012 decision to close the facilities, residents are now being forced to relocate to for-profit group homes.
A measure filed Wednesday in the Senate will help ensure that the visitation rights of law-abiding noncustodial parents are protected. Sen. Ron Sharp filed Senate Bill 1612 after visiting with attorneys and community leaders from around the state and learning about the growing problem of noncustodial parents being denied their visitation rights by bitter custodial parents.