Democratic leaders Tuesday won approval by the full State Senate of an important middleclass expansion of the states successful meritbased scholarship program. read more.
State Senators gave approval Tuesday to a $339.1 million boost in public school funding, including the largest teacher pay raise in seven years. By a 41-5 vote the Senate sent Senate Bill 1644 by Senators Susan Paddack and Stratton Taylor to the House for consideration.
Under a proposal approved by the State Senate, victims and family members would be able to give their impact statement in person, without fear of further trauma. Senate Bill 1503, by Senator Glenn Coffee, would prevent the cross-examination of victims or their family members after presenting an oral impact statement during the sentencing phase of a trial.
The full Senate has approved a measure which would identify registered sex offenders on their state driver’s license. Under Senate Bill 1426, by Sen. Brian Crain, convicted sex offenders would be given 180 days after being notified by the Department of Corrections to get a new license reflecting their status as a sex offender or face cancellation of their license for one year.
Another original painting commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. was dedicated at the State Capitol today. The painting, entitled “Fort Smith Council - 1865” by nationally renowned artist Mike Wimmer of Norman, was unveiled during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber this afternoon.read more.
Two Republican senators are pleased that their provisions were included in SB 1644, a teacher pay raise bill passed by the State Senate Tuesday. A provision authored by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, provided larger pay hikes for teachers with masters and doctoral degrees.
A provision authored by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, extended pay increases to school support personnel.
Both provisions were adopted as amendments to the teacher pay raise when the bill was considered by the Senate Education Committee earlier this year.
The full Senate has given its approval to a measure creating a world-class diabetes research and treatment center in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 1056, co-authored by Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, and Sen. Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, would help fund the start-up cost for creating the center, which would have locations at the University of Oklahoma campuses in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, with outreach programs serving the entire state.read more.
The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit pawn shops, payday lenders and check-cashing institutions from selling lottery tickets. Senate Bill 1089, by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, passed by a vote of 41-0.
“The people who visit pawn shops and payday lenders are likely facing financial hardship,” said Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City. “For the state to sell lottery tickets in such establishments is inappropriate and exploitative.”read more.
State Senator James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, attempted today to amend a bill to expand the OHLAP Scholarship Program. Senate Democrats rejected the amendment on a party line vote. Williamson’s amendment would require students whose families earn $50,000-$75,000 to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and remain in Oklahoma to qualify for the OHLAP Scholarship.
The bill would expand eligibility for the OHLAP Scholarship Program to families making $50,000 to$75,000, adding $66 million to the State’s annual budget when fully implemented.
- Democrat leaders refuse to give bill a committee hearing
An Edmond state senator said he is disappointed that the State Senate’s Democrat majority killed a bill aimed at helping more people go to college in Oklahoma.
Senate Bill 1658, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, was not given a hearing by Senate Democrats before Monday’s committee deadline, killing the measure for the year. The bill would have provided tax credits to Oklahoma companies that pay for their employees’ higher education or helped to fund the OHLAP program.read more.
Hundreds of international high school and college students are expected to descend on the State Capitol March 28 for International Student Awareness Day.
State Senator Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), who serves as the co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on International Development, said the event has been occurring for over a decade. He said in 2004 over 500 international high school and college students attended the event.
A measure by Senator Jay Paul Gumm aimed at protecting rural Oklahoma from forced consolidation of public schools received a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Education Committee.
Senate Joint Resolution 35 contains an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would end forever the concept of forced school consolidation. If approved by the Legislature and voters, the amendment would prevent the consolidation of rural school districts unless the proposal is approved by voters in the affected school districts.read more.
The Oklahoma State Senate voted Monday to appropriate $125 million to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to fund the repair and replacement of the worst bridges on state highways and county roads.
Senate Bill 1288, authored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Johnnie Crutchfield, dedicates $100 million for state bridges and sets aside an additional $25 million for county bridges.
The Oklahoma State Senate honored two special Oklahomans today in the Senate Chamber. The Senate presented resolutions recognizing the accomplishments and talents of Jenks High School graduate Jennifer Berry, Miss America 2006 and Edmond resident Jennifer Warren, Miss Oklahoma 2005 read more.
A measure that would let Oklahoma voters decide if they want to increase the state’s minimum wage was approved by the Senate Business and Labor Committee today.
“This measure will help those working Oklahomans across the state who struggle to provide for their families instead of relying on government services,” said Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, who chairs the committee. “I believe the people of Oklahoma would overwhelmingly vote to support this common-sense measure to reduce poverty and provide Oklahomans with fair pay for a fair days work.”
State Senator James A. Williamson said his bill to protect Oklahomans from uninsured motorists is dead for the session after it failed to get a committee hearing this session. Williamson, R-Tulsa called it a blow to law-abiding citizens.
“Over a quarter of all drivers on the road are uninsured,” said Williamson, R-Tulsa. “Far too often, those drivers are only discovered once they’ve already caused damage and injury. My bill could have helped catch them before they victimized anyone,” Williamson said.
Senator Susan Paddack, a Democrat from Ada, said she is pleased a measure that will bring more accountability to Oklahoma classrooms won the approval of a Senate panel earlier today.
“If we want Oklahoma to be even more successful, we must offer our children the best education possible,” Paddack said. “And that means making Oklahoma classrooms more accountable through end of instruction testing and through additional support for students to achieve their maximum potential.”read more.
- House-passed pro-life legislation also faces tough road in Democrat-controlled Senate
The State Senate’s Democrat majority renewed its annual tradition and once again killed a number of Republican-authored pro-life measures this week by refusing to give the bills a committee hearing before this week’s committee deadline.
And a member of the Senate’s Republican leadership team predicted that Senate Democrats will also kill the pro-life bills passed this week by the House of Representatives.read more.
“Senate Republicans are so focused on the next election that they have completely forgotten about the most significant pro-life legislation that was written and passed by Senate Democrats under the direction of the Democratic Leadership in the State Senate and signed into law by Democratic Governor Brad Henry last legislative session. read more.
Oklahoma State Legislature
For Immediate Release: February 23, 200
Senate and House leaders announced agreements on supplemental appropriations Thursday at the Capitol.
LR: Sen. Frank Shurden, Rep. Mark Liotta, Sen. Kenneth Corn, Rep. Jim Newport, Rep. John Trebilcock, Rep. Curt Roggow and Sen. Jeff Rabon. read more.