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Press Releases

Showing: April, 2014

After earning unanimous approval in the Senate on Tuesday, two proposals authored by Sen. Dan Newberry to combat the crime of human trafficking will now advance to the governor.

Senate Bill 1433 would guarantee that persons convicted of human trafficking serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Under Senate Bill 1431, the provisions of the Sex Offender Registration Act will apply to people convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Both measures are sponsored by Rep. Pam Peterson.

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With a plan to build a new State Medical Examiner’s Office in Edmond facing uncertainty, Sen. Patrick Anderson is proposing that the state use one-time money from the Unclaimed Property Fund to construct the facility.

The State Supreme Court last year issued a ruling that would allow the state to proceed with the sale of $38.5 million in bonds to fund the project. However, the bonds have yet to be sold due to concerns from University of Central Oklahoma officials that the Legislature will not provide funding for the bond payments.

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Oklahoma could see its incarceration rates, especially those among nonviolent female offenders, decrease in the coming years thanks to a new innovative alternative-to-incarceration pilot program approved by the governor Tuesday. Senate Bill 1278, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Leslie Osborn, will create a “Pay-for-Success” contract pilot program to help nonviolent female offenders get the substance abuse treatment, counseling and other services they need to become self-sufficient, productive citizens.

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Governor signs STEM legislation

On Monday, the governor signed into law legislation to address Oklahoma’s shortage of qualified workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Senate Bill 1181, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Rep. Justin Wood, provides criteria for designation as a STEM community or region. This was one of the recommendations made last year by the governor’s Science and Technology Council, a group focused on enhancing workforce development through the strengthening of STEM education programs at K-12 and college levels.

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Currently, 100-percent disabled veterans in Oklahoma are provided with an ad valorem tax exemption for their primary residence as long as they lived there on Jan. 1st and apply for the exemption by March 15th. Last week, the Senate approved legislation ensuring disabled veterans continue to get the exemption if they move mid-year as well as extending the tax break to the surviving spouses of veterans killed in the line of duty.

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Sen. Patrick Anderson today said he was shocked that the State Department of Education spent $33,268.00 on its annual report. The report, which is 60 pages in length and includes 50 glossy color photos and charts, was delivered to legislators Wednesday.

According to the document, the Department of Education printed 2,000 copies, meaning each copy of the report cost taxpayers $16.63.

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The state Senate has approved legislation to ensure that students in Oklahoma high schools receive instruction in life-saving Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) prior to graduation. Under House Bill 1378, authored by Rep. Emily Virgin and Sen. John Sparks, students will receive hands-on training to learn skills that can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival after sudden cardiac arrest.

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The 6th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day will be held at the state Capitol on Tuesday, April 29. The educational event is free to the public and provides information on prevention, treatment, support groups and other important topics.

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The full Senate has approved legislation that will ultimately increase public school funding by $600 million annually. Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, and Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, are Senate authors of House Bill 2642, the Securing Educational Excellence Fund (SEEF). The measure was approved unanimously on Wednesday.

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Sen. Ralph Shortey is urging the Oklahoma House of Representatives to take up articles of impeachment filed by Rep. Mike Christian against the five Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court who voted this week to stay the executions of two death row inmates.

Shortey said the justices have abdicated their role as impartial interpreters of the law, allowing the Court to be successfully manipulated by death penalty activists.

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President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement after the House voted to approve SB 1246. Bingman is principal author of the income tax cut legislation, which now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

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The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a plan aimed at countering the impact of proposed federal legislation taxing Internet sales. The federal Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 would require Internet sales tax collections on businesses that don’t have a substantial physical presence in the state.

Sen. Clark Jolley is the author of the measure creating the Marketplace Equalization Fund, which was approved Wednesday as an amendment to HB 2720. The act would only become effective if Congress approves the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013.

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The state Senate has unanimously approved House Bill 2526, legislation intended to address Oklahoma’s domestic violence crisis. Authored by Sen. David Holt and Rep. Kay Floyd, the proposal creates a series of research-based questions that will be asked to domestic violence victims by responding law enforcement officers.

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Sen. Cliff Aldridge today applauded statements by House Speaker Jeff Hickman regarding Senate Bill 1651, which would allocate $40 million from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund to the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Aldridge said the House Speaker has remained consistent in his requirement that 51 members of the House Republican Caucus support the proposal before it is given a hearing in the House chamber.

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Senate authors of a plan to increase public school funding by $600 million annually expect the bill to come up for a floor vote on Wednesday, one day before the deadline for consideration of House Bills. Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, and Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, have been working on changes to House Bill 2642, the Securing Educational Excellence Fund (SEEF).

Halligan, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, said concerns over slowing a program to address aging state roads and bridges resulted in the development of a new funding plan.

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“For the second year in a row, mandatory testing for thousands of Oklahoma students has come to a complete halt because of ‘computer glitches.’ You’d think after going through this last year, the Superintendent would have made certain we didn’t see a repeat. To have this happen two years in a row is inexcusable.

“This is a failure of leadership. Oklahoma students, teachers and schools are under a lot of pressure with these high stakes tests. Once again, those in charge have failed them.” --Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Sayre

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The full Senate has given its approval to legislation that would reduce Oklahoma’s top income tax rate by .25 and the corporate income tax rate by 1 full percentage point. House Bill 2508, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, was approved Tuesday. A Senate bill aimed at reducing income taxes is awaiting action by the full House.

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The state Senate this week approved legislation designed to combat the sale of dangerous synthetic drugs. House Bill 2666, by Rep. David Derby and Sen. Rob Standridge, would bring a number of synthetic drugs under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.

Standridge explained that the sale of such drugs, particularly synthetic marijuana, has emerged as a health and public safety problem for which there is little regulation.

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The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a bill prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring current or prospective employees to give them access to their personal social media accounts. Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. John Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow, are the authors of House Bill 2372. The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday with a vote of 41 to 0.

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The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would help the children of public servants killed in the line of duty attend any Oklahoma career technology center tuition free. House Bill 3350 pertains to the children of any Oklahoma firefighter or emergency medical technician, both volunteer and salaried, peace officer or member of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System who has been killed in the line of duty.

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