Lost for decades, two of the original lighting sconces that once adorned the Senate Gallery have been restored and were installed Thursday just outside the entrance to the Chamber.
Trait Thompson, Project Manager for the restoration of the state Capitol, said it was exciting that nearly a hundred years after they had first been installed in the building, two of the sconces now light the Senate foyer.
Sen. Corey Brooks has filed legislation to allow the State Regents for Higher Education to review cases for students who apply for the state’s tuition reimbursement program whose families have unique financial situations that make their children ineligible for the program. Senate Bill 137 would update the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) qualifications to remove disability compensation from being considered when determining financial need and would also direct the State Regents to develop an appeals process for students denied OHLAP.
Under Oklahoma law, sheriffs and other law enforcement officers are responsible for transporting individuals who require mental health services under Emergency Orders of Detention (EOD). This is an expensive and time consuming process for the agencies but Sen. Ron Sharp has filed Senate Bill 252 to help by allowing them to contract with third parties to provide such services.
In response to October’s Supreme Court’s decision to allow lower court rulings against Oklahoma’s ban on same sex marriage to stand, Sen. Corey Brooks has filed legislation to protect the rights of individuals and religious entities who provide marital services within the state. Senate Bill 478 would create the Protection of Religious Freedom in the Sanctity of Marriage Act of 2015.
In response to growing concerns about revenue shortfalls in the State’s Ad Valorem Reimbursement Fund and the impact these shortfalls have on Oklahoma’s schools, Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, has filed a package of bills to address this issue.read more.
The deadline for members of the Oklahoma State Senate to file legislation for the first session of the 55th Legislature was 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 22. A total of 815 Senate bills were filed, along with 32 joint resolutions. The total number is down compared to the first session of the 54th Legislature in 2013 when 1,119 bills and 34 joint resolutions were filed.
Sen. Mike Mazzei and Rep. Earl Sears filed legislation Thursday for the 2015 session to reform existing state subsidies for all new Oklahoma industrial wind facilities. The legislation, which would take effect January 1, 2016, would establish sensible laws to regulate industrial wind companies and oversee future development in Oklahoma.read more.
Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation to address Oklahoma’s high number of uninsured motorists especially those with DUI convictions. Senate Bill 260 would require an individual convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to have valid auto insurance on file with the Department of Public Safety for at least one year after their conviction.
State Sen. Stephanie Bice has filed legislation that would allow retail liquor stores to sell refrigerated high-point beer in Oklahoma. Bice said this change is something Oklahomans have increasingly been asking for.
“I’ve heard from scores of Oklahomans from all parts of the state who are really supportive of this effort to modernize state law to enable the sale of cold high-point beer in liquor stores,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City. “The response I’ve received has been overwhelmingly in favor of this legislation.”
Sen. David Holt, R Oklahoma City, has introduced a comprehensive election reform package of nine bills and one joint resolution, all intended to increase Oklahoma’s rapidly declining voter turnout. The concepts proposed by Holt include
transitioning Oklahoma to mail elections and adoption of a “top two” electoral system.
As a physician, Dr. Ervin Yen has seen first-hand the deadly consequences of texting while driving. As a new member of the Legislature, Sen. Yen has filed legislation to try and stop it. Yen, R-Oklahoma City, has authored Senate Bill 304 which would make it a misdemeanor crime with a fine of at least $100 to text while driving a vehicle.
A cardiac anesthesiologist, Yen said what he’s seen in the operating room has convinced him that Oklahoma legislators need to act, just as 44 other states have already done.
Sen. Ron Sharp filed legislation Thursday to strengthen Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act to ensure more Oklahoma students have the reading skills necessary to be promoted to the fourth grade. Senate Bill 221 will make Student Reading Proficiency Teams a permanent component in third grade retention and promotion decisions as well as provide more guidance for public schools about summer reading academies.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Sharp filed legislation to increase accountability and transparency of taxpayer dollars through strengthening Oklahoma’s Performance Informed Budgeting (P.I.B.) system. Senate Bill 189 would remove Zero-Based Budgeting from Oklahoma statutes as the state no longer uses the system and would refocus legislators’ attention to the importance of the state’s Performance Informed Budgeting System.
Joel McCoy Reimer received a Citation this week at the local Rotary meeting from Senator Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, recognizing his most recent FFA achievement. Reimer received the FFA’s prestigious American Degree at the 87th Annual FFA Convention in Louisville, KY, an award given to less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s 579,678 FFA members and only 137 Oklahomans this year.read more.
Hoping to help Oklahoma motor carriers avoid a hefty fine, Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, is reminding all carriers to ensure UCR registrations are current and up to date. This registration applies to the operations of passenger and property in interstate commerce, motor carrier, motor private carrier, freight forwarder, broker and leasing companies.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Jason Smalley will be hosting Lt. Governor Todd Lamb next week as he crosses the state visiting all 77 counties to talk to local business owners, educators, county agencies and citizens.
Lamb will be speaking at Territory Cellars in Stroud from 8:00-9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 13. The public is welcome to attend to discuss state and legislative issues with the state officials.read more.
Sen. Brian Bingman released the following statement after being formally re-elected to serve a third term as President Pro Tempore during the state Senate’s organizational day on Tuesday.
Senate Democratic Leader Randy Bass unveiled caucus leadership positions and committee appointments Tuesday for the 55th Legislature. Bass said his members would use those roles to ensure all Oklahomans have a voice at the state Capitol.