Continuing his efforts to make Oklahoma’s roads safer, Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation to once again try to outlaw the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving unless it is with hands-free technology. Senate Bill 1088 would expand the Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015 to try to decrease the number of distracted drivers on Oklahoma roads.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education honored Sen. Dewayne Pemberton last week with the 2019 Distinguished Service Award for Higher Education. The Muskogee Republican and retired educator thanked the Regents for the great honor.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, released the following statement on the passing of former Senator Roger Ballenger:
“I had the privilege of serving alongside Roger Ballenger early in my career in the Senate. He had a great intellect and was a skilled lawmaker. He served the people of his district and the state with pride, and I always respected Roger. My family sends our prayers and condolences to Roger’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
State Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, issued the following statement on Monday following the news that former Sen. Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee, had passed away. Thompson was elected to the District 8 seat in 2014 after Ballenger announced his retirement from the Senate after eight years of service.
“Roger Ballenger was the epitome of a dedicated public servant. He represented the citizens of District 8 with integrity and was extremely gracious and helpful to me when I was elected to the Senate.
Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, released the following statement on the death of former Sen. Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee.
“Senator Ballenger was liked and respected by members on both sides of the aisle—in fact he was appointed Vice Chair of the Senate General Government Committee in 2012, the only Democrat named to a committee leadership post. He also served as Assistant Minority Floor Leader.read more.
The Oklahoma State Election Board unanimously voted Tuesday to appoint Sherron Manning as Secretary of the Beckham County Election Board. Sen. Darcy Jech congratulated Manning on her appointment and thanked Alex Joseph for his service.
Oklahoma citizens will be able to pre-register to vote when they turn 17.5 years old thanks to a new law going into effect on November 1. Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, and Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, authored Senate Bill 496 this past session to make it easier for young voters to remember to get registered to vote before they turn 18.
A dangerous five-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 59 (State Highway 9) in LeFlore County was finally advanced on the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s $6.5 billion 2020-2027 Eight-Year Construction Work Plan. Local officials and citizens have been eagerly awaiting the road repairs for several years. According to ODOT, the section of four-lane highway has been delayed in the plan since 2005 because of alignment issues, increased costs and state and federal budget cuts.
Sen. Julia Kirt will be holding a community forum next month to discuss legislative issues with citizens in Senate District 30. The public event will take place Tuesday, November 5 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany. Kirt will be sharing information about interim studies, the upcoming bill request deadline, legislative issues from the 2019 session as well as what issues will be tackled next session.
In September, Oklahoma prisons went on lockdown. It began with a gang-related fight in the Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center in Vinita before spreading to prisons throughout the state. A coordinated uprising, which resulted in injuries to correctional officers, the hospitalization of 36 inmates and the death of one inmate. All coordinated with cellphones.
In an effort to deter future hate crimes and ensure criminals are held accountable, Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation strengthening Oklahoma’s hate crime law. Senate Bill 1083 would allow districts attorney to choose whether to charge hate crime offenders with a misdemeanor or felony.
The Senate Health and Human Services committee recently conducted a study to learn more about state services provided for children with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). The study was requested by Sen. Frank Simpson, who serves as Chair of both the Legislative Diabetes Caucus and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Simpson’s granddaughter passed away from complications related to diabetes and glucose monitoring.
A Senate interim study on workplace violence and medical professionals will meet on Monday, October 21 at 1:30 p.m. in room 419C of the state Capitol. The study was requested by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.
State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has been appointed to serve on the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, a 21-member panel that will help plan the state’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of “The Mother Road.”read more.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Friday announced his appointment of Rick Nagel of Norman to the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).
The JNC selects judicial candidates that the governor then considers for appointment to state courts. The Senate President Pro Tempore is responsible for appointing an at-large, non-attorney member of the JNC.
Nagel’s term as an at-large member begins immediately. He will serve a two-year term which expires in October 2021.
State Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, has been appointed to serve on the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, a 21-member panel that will help plan the state’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the highway known as “The Mother Road.”read more.
Businesses located in Oklahoma and owned by Oklahomans have a major impact on the state in a variety of areas. That’s according to Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, who has requested an interim study to highlight the positive role those businesses play in not only the state’s economy, but in charitable giving as well.
That study will be held this Thursday, October 10 at 9 a.m. in room 535 of the state Capitol.
Standridge said the informational meeting is a part of his “Oklahoma First!” initiative.
Sen. Paul Scott recently joined First Lady Sarah Stitt, other state officials and school administrators to discuss efforts to treat and prevent stress caused from childhood trauma. Guests viewed the documentary, “Resilience”, which sheds light on this growing problem among Oklahoma students.
On Monday afternoon, members of the Senate Rules Committee learned about the importance of census participation and the negative impact that can occur from under reporting. Presentations were made by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, requested the interim study to learn how census counts impact Oklahoma.
“Constituents have let me know for months that they are tired of the excessive robocalls that have gone from just being annoying to disrupting their daily lives. One constituent recently felt forced to change his cell phone number that he had for 40 years. Feeling forced to change your phone number should never be the solution.