OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Several agricultural leaders were present this week at the state Capitol to discuss the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth, including US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Oklahoma USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen. State Senator Darcy Jech, State Representative David Perryman, and Caddo County leadership representatives were also in attendance.read more.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Members of the robotics team from Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center in Fort Cobb were cheered on by State Senator Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, as they competed at the annual Oklahoma FIRST regional event in Oklahoma City. Teams from across the country compete in the robotics competition designed to pair professionals with young people to solve an engineering design problem and compete.read more.
State Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Mustang) has requested a legal opinion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt on whether school districts can compel attendance at the education rally planned for Monday at the State Capitol.
“I respect and admire teachers and educators all across our state and welcome them to their state Capitol; however, it has come to my attention that at least one school district is making the rally attendance mandatory for their staff,” Loveless said.read more.
Legislation aimed at eliminating payroll deductions for state teachers passed in the Senate today by a vote of 28-16, essentially blocking educators from paying their dues to the organizations that collectively bargains on their behalf directly out of their paychecks. Senator Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, voted no on HB 1749, calling the measure unfair to teachers.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The State Election Board has reappointed Diana Knight to continue her service as secretary of the Pottawatomie County Election Board until her retirement on June 1, 2015, according to State Senator Ron Sharp.
Knight has worked at the Pottawatomie County Election Board for nearly 38 years. She began as the Assistant Secretary on November 1, 1977, and was appointed as the Secretary on November 1, 1991.read more.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The State Election Board has appointed Cathy Harrison of Stilwell to become the next secretary of the Adair County Election Board, according to State Senator Wayne Shaw.
Harrison will be replacing Marilyn Hill-Russell, who has served as Adair County Election Board Secretary for eight years.
“I am pleased with the experience Ms. Harrison brings to this position,” said Sen. Shaw, R-Grove. “I am confident she will do an excellent job as Adair County Election Board Secretary.”read more.
Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) continued his call Wednesday for an evaluation of school administrative costs.
“During her comments to the Senate Appropriations Committee, State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister agreed with what I have been saying for years ? Oklahoma has too many school districts,” Loveless said. “I hope the Superintendent will support my legislation to create a task force to study this issue and submit recommendations to the legislature.”read more.
The full Senate has easily passed three of the proposals introduced by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, to modernize Oklahoma’s election system and increase rapidly declining voter participation.
“The three proposals received overwhelming votes of support, and as a result we are well on our way to modernizing our state’s election laws,” Holt said. “In particular, I believe the strong vote for a secure online registration system represents a landmark for election reform in this state.”read more.
The Senate voted to protect Oklahoma’s students by preventing school employees who have committed sexual crimes against minors from seeking employment in other school districts. Sen. Kyle Loveless is the author of Senate Bill 301, which will stop districts from unknowingly hiring sexual predators, and keeping predators from moving around the state to avoid detection.
The Senate has taken a giant step forward by promoting further discussions by all stakeholders on legislation to modernize Oklahoma’s archaic and uncompetitive laws regulating alcohol sales. Senate Bill 383, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, began as an effort to give liquor stores the option of selling refrigerated beer. Bice, R-Oklahoma City, said since that time, the focus of the legislation has changed.
Sen. Clark Jolley announced Wednesday that he would hold Senate Bill 609 over until the 2016 session enabling supporters to work throughout the interim to address questions about the benefits of the school choice plan. SB 609, authored by Jolley in the Senate and Rep. Jason Nelson in the House, creates Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), giving parents more options for their child’s education. Sen. Jolley and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statements.
Statement from Sen. Clark Jolley:read more.
A bill that would protect clergy members and others who are authorized to perform marriage ceremonies from being required to perform those duties if it conflicts with the officiant’s religious beliefs passed the full Senate today by a vote of 39-6.
SB 788, authored by Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, would not only protect officiants who are authorized by law to solemnize a marriage, it would also shield churches from being required to participate in ceremonies that might conflict for religious reasons.
The full Senate on Wednesday advanced legislation that could result in state spending receiving greater scrutiny than ever before. Authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Senate Joint Resolution 30 would send to a vote of the people a proposal to dedicate every other legislative year to crafting the states budget.
Bingman said that in light of the $611 million shortfall currently faced by the state, the time has come for reform that will enable the Legislature to examine state expenditures from top to bottom.read more.
Sen. Rob Standridge is the Senate author of Senate Joint Resolution 4, which is an application to Congress calling for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office of its officials and for members of Congress. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday 26-20 and it will now go to the House for further consideration.
A measure making it illegal to text and drive is now one step closer to becoming law. Senate Bill 821, authored by the Senate Public Safety Committee, would make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while using a hand-held electronic device to compose, send or read electronic messages while driving. The measure received overwhelming approval, with members voting 42 to 3 in favor of the legislation.read more.
Two measures reforming tax incentives for future wind farms in Oklahoma have cleared another legislative hurdle. The full Senate on Tuesday gave approval to Senate Bill 498 and Senate Bill 501. Sen. Mike Mazzei is principal author of the measures, which would take effect beginning January 1, 2016.
The Senate passed a bill Tuesday to provide the State Regents of Higher Education more flexibility when deciding students’ eligibility for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP). Sen. Corey Brooks is the author of Senate Bill 137, which would direct the Regents to create an appeals process for students denied OHLAP because of their families’ special financial situations.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed two bills to provide more services for Oklahoma veterans and their families. Senate Bills 398 and 713 seek to help veterans both living and deceased. Sen. Frank Simpson, a retired Navy veteran and chairman of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, is the author of the measures.
Members of the Oklahoma Black Caucus responded Monday afternoon to a video that depicts members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chanting a song laced with racial slurs.
On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman appointed Senator Jason Smalley to serve as a member of the Education Commission of the States (ECS). The nonpartisan organization that works with policymakers, researchers and practitioners at all levels of education, from pre-K to postsecondary, tracking state policy trends, translating academic research, providing unbiased advice and creating opportunities for state leaders to learn from one another.