A bill aimed at helping the more than 700,000 Oklahomans who are without health insurance cleared another legislative hurdle today as it passed off the Senate floor. Senate author of the bill, Tom Adelson, (D-Tulsa) said the measure requires hospitals to extend discounts for certain income eligible patients. Senate Bill 848 now goes to the House where it is authored by State Representative Thad Balkman (R-Norman).
The Oklahoma State Senate has announced another technological innovation to open up the legislative process to the public. Beginning Monday, February 28, anyone with Internet access will be able to see and hear the proceedings live from the Senate Chamber, via webcast.
“Last year we began offering live streaming audio. Now anyone who is interested will be able to see live video from the chamber as well,” Hobson said. “I think this is going to be exciting for students, educators and any one in the public who would like to learn more about their government.”
A bill to require an alphanumeric sequence rather than computer-generated numbers for Oklahoma driver licenses or identification cards has won Senate approval. Sen. Clark Jolley is principal author of the measure.
“If you look at an Oklahoma driver’s license and a Social Security number, you can’t distinguish the two. Since numerous businesses now require your driver license number for financial transactions, I believe it is imperative that we are able to simply glance at the number and be able to distinguish it from a Social Security number,” explained Jolley, R-Edmond read more.
The State Senate approved a resolution this week to bypass the review period of recent rules proposed by the Agriculture Department to restrict the sale of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
House Concurrent Resolution 1001, authored by Sen. Ron Justice (R-Chickasha) and Rep. John Wright (R-Broken Arrow) waives the 30-day legislative review period that is usually required for proposed rules.
A bill aimed at providing working families with a tax rebate cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee today by receiving a majority vote that will now send the proposal to a vote on the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 918, authored by Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, creates the Helping Oklahomans Prosper Economically (HOPE) Fund. The bill is part of Gov. Brad Henry’s tax package.
Lack of Senate Action Does Not Bode Well for House Bills
Senate Republican leaders said Thursday that Senate Democrats seem intent on keeping the Senate’s reputation as the Legislature’s “graveyard for good legislation” by refusing to schedule committee hearings for dozens of good public policy legislation authored by Republicans. A Senate bill that did not receive a committee hearing by Thursday is dead for the session.read more.
State Senator Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC, and House Speaker Pro Tempore Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, are calling the first meeting of the Oklahoma Women’s Caucus a tremendous success. Women lawmakers from the House and Senate gathered at the State Capitol for a session which included a presentation on similar organizations throughout the nation as well as a demonstration on women’s health issues.
As the Senate Finance Committee completed its work on Senate bills assigned to it, the panel’s chair said the panel’s work is responsible and shows a deep respect for Oklahoma working families.
Senator Jay Paul Gumm said the committee considered and approved upwards of $300 million in tax cuts, almost all of which are targeted to working families or to grow Oklahoma’s economy.
State Senator Jonathan Nichols said he was outraged that members on the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated legislation that would have banned inmates from using cell phones in prison. The former prosecutor said he was stunned by the Wednesday morning vote which killed Senate Bill 654. The measure would have categorized cell phones as illegal contraband in Oklahoma prisons.
Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson Wednesday offered to rescue the Higher Education bond issue from a sea of unnecessary partisan politics by announcing he would consider each of the other unrelated issues included in Speaker Todd Hiett’s bond proposal on their own merits.
Republican members of the Senate General Government Committee killed a measure Monday that would have allowed added fire protection for Oklahomans who live in rural sections of incorporated municipalities.read more.
Senator Debbe Leftwich announced today that a measure to extend the Oklahoma Quality Investment Act that was signed by the Governor during the last legislative session, has cleared its first legislative hurdle. Senate Bill 755 also renames the Act that was specifically geared toward keeping Dayton Tire Company from uprooting its multi-million dollar industry and moving to another state to the Oklahoma Specialized Quality Investment Act.
Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee made the following statement following the Senate’s bipartisan vote to pass the higher education bond issue.
“Senate Republicans are strong supporters of higher education, and we proudly provided bipartisan support for the higher education bond proposal today,” Coffee stated.read more.
State Senators celebrated “Higher Education Day” at the State Capitol Tuesday by sending Governor Brad Henry’s $500 million bond issue proposal for the state’s colleges and universities to the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a third straight unanimous vote.
Senators voted 47-0 in favor of Senate Bill 745, which contains the governor’s higher education bond proposal. The measure now goes to the House for consideration.
Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson praised Tuesday’s bi-partisan passage of the measure.
The Governor’s Workers Compensation Reform measure passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today with a 5-4 vote. Republican committee members James Williamson, Todd Lamb, Brian Crain and Scott Pruitt all voted against the measure that when enacted, will reduce costs for businesses that operate in Oklahoma.
Judiciary Chairman, Senator Charlie Laster, (D-Shawnee) said passage of the bill out of committee puts the measure one step closer to bringing a comprehensive workers compensation reform package to Oklahoma businesses.read more.
Gov. Brad Henry’s watered-down workers’ compensation reform bill was passed 5 to 4 on a party-line vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
“Senate Bill 846 does nothing to address the out-of-control legal costs or the dueling doctors problem that are driving up workers’ comp insurance rates in Oklahoma,” stated Judiciary Committee member Sen. Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow.
State Senator Robert M. Kerr said he felt optimistic after beginning chemotherapy last week. In a statement read to fellow members, the Altus Democrat disclosed that after beating cancer into remission 11 years ago, he has again been diagnosed with the disease.
“My doctors told me another round of chemotherapy can put this back into remission. I had my first treatment last Friday morning and will continue to receive chemotherapy at three week intervals,” Kerr said.
State Senator Debbe Leftwich announced on Friday that she will be principal Senate author of a bill to allow Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties to operate under home rule. Leftwich and House principal author
Mike Shelton, DOKC, said House Bill 9 was the result of citizen outrage over the move by two of Oklahoma Countys three commissioners to disband the county budget board. read more.
Dem Freshmen Adelson, Bass, Garrison and Wyrick vote in favor of bill
This week, the six Republican members of the Senate Committee on General Government – joined by just a single Democrat senator – defeated Senate Bill 662, by Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, that would have legalized voting in Oklahoma for convicted felons who are on parole or probation.
The measure was defeated on a 7 to 4 vote.read more.
“Governor Henry and his bi-partisan task force spent months developing a comprehensive package of workers compensation reform. In the end this diverse group unanimously approved a progressive plan which will reduce costs for business without compromising the rights of injured workers.