Statement by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan
“Each of the measures that grew out of House Republicans brief sojourn into rural Oklahoma last year has been assigned to the appropriate committee and each will be given due consideration. Every bill will be weighed on its own merits.
In an effort to boost economies in rural Oklahoma, two rural democrats have teamed up to push for passage of Senate Bill 1587. The measure’s authors, Senator Susan Paddack of Ada and State Rep. Wes Hilliard of Sulphur are pleased the measure unanimously won the approval of a House panel Wednesday.
Hilliard said the measure modifies the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act by providing protection for communities and gives incentives to corporations who want to set up in areas after a negative economic event occurs.
Members of the State Senate’s Rural Republican Caucus said they are pleased that Senate Democrats have reversed course and will now allow a vote on a bill providing much-needed funding to rural volunteer fire departments.
On Tuesday Senate Democrat leaders had indicated they would not allow the $9 million bill to come up for a vote unless their demands were met for additional changes to the proposal. SB 1190 passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote Tuesday.read more.
Senator Jeff Rabon said today that he plans to move for acceptance of House amendments to Senate Bill 1190 when the Senate convenes today at 1 p.m. The measure will provide $9 million for rural fire departments whose budgets of have been strapped through five months of fighting wildfires in Oklahoma.
“This is beginning and not the end. I made it clear yesterday that I believe rural fire departments need more money and I have had very fruitful talks this morning with my counterpart in the House,” Rabon said.read more.
Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Jeff Rabon said he’s pleased that the Republican leadership of the House has decided to do something meaningful to boost funding for rural fire departments in Oklahoma, but said the funding proposals in the measure passed off the House floor Tuesday fall short of the needs of Oklahoma’s first responders.read more.
A record $2.4 billion public schools appropriation bill was approved in the State Senate Wednesday on a bi-partisan 43-2 vote. The amended version of House Bill 2165 includes a $3,000 across the board raise for state teachers and an increase in incentive pay for teachers who achieve National Board Certification.
Passage of the amended version of House Bill 2165 comes ahead of Saturday’s statutory “Fund Education First” deadline. It includes $204.3 million in new funding for Oklahoma’s public schools.
Legislation cracking down on underage drinking has cleared another hurdle after winning approval Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary. House Bill 3056, by Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, and Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, creates the Prevention of Youth to Access to Alcohol (3.2 Beer) Act.read more.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill today that will immediately restore funds to cash-strapped rural fire departments across the state.
“It is truly a great day in Oklahoma,” Rabon said. “Senate Bill 1190 is a great step forward to give our heroic volunteer rural firefighters the funding they need to continue to keep our families and communities safe.”
Oklahomans needing free or reduced-cost medications got one-on-one assistance Tuesday when the “Help is Here Express” bus made a stop at the State Capitol. The bus is a traveling education center making stops throughout the country to raise awareness about how to take advantage of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance program.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a measure that would reform how the state Department of Human Services and the courts handle child abuse cases in Oklahoma. The measure, House Bill 2840, is known as the Kelsey Smith-Briggs Child Protection Reform Act, named for a two-year-old victim of child abuse.
Senate and House leaders announced today an agreement on a $3.7 million supplemental appropriation which will keep the Department of Public Safety from furloughing Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers.
The announcement was made by State Representative John Trebilcock and Senator Kenneth Corn.
Two rural state senators called on Senate leaders to swiftly act to pass the funding plan for rural firefighters that unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Senate Bill 1190 passed the House on a 96 to 0 vote.
“With swift action by the Senate, we can put this plan on the governor’s desk by early next week and provide some much-needed help to our rural firefighters,” stated Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, the chairman of the State Senate’s Rural Republican Caucus.read more.
State Sen. J. Berry Harrison (D-Fairfax) was honored by his fellow members of the Oklahoma State Senate on Tuesday. Harrison, who is completing his sixteenth year in the Senate, will be leaving the district 10 post due to term limits.read more.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced today that the Senate will consider a nearly $2.4 billion public schools appropriation on Wednesday. The measure includes a record $204.3 million in new funding for common education, including a $3,000 across-the-board pay raise for state teachers and an increase in the incentive pay for teachers who achieve National Board Certification.
Over 500 international high school and college students descended Tuesday on the State Capitol 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 57 countries were represented at the event.
The event was sponsored by the Special Joint Committee on International Development, the Governor’s International Team and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Rep. Shane Jett, (R-Tecumseh) was the event’s House co-chair.read more.
Calling the measure “exceedingly harsh” and saying it goes “way too far,” the Senate author of a bill that criminalizes offering humanitarian assistance to undocumented immigrants said Monday that he will not seek a hearing on the measure in committee.
Senator Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, sent a letter Monday afternoon to Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Bernest Cain, explaining that he would not be requesting a hearing for House Bill 3119.
State Sen. Scott Pruitt said he was elated after a House committee joined the full Senate in approving his legislation to lower the state income tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.9 percent. If signed into law, Pruitt’s measure, Senate Bill 2022, would be the largest tax cut in the history of the state.
“Within just a few short years, Oklahoma families would save literally thousands of dollars on their state income taxes,” said Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow. “That’s money they can save, invest or spend, all of which is going to help Oklahomans and our economy.”
Using pension obligation bonds to fulfill the unfunded liability in state pension system is a risky venture that lawmakers should avoid, State Senator Kenneth Corn said Friday.
Pension obligation bonds are, at best, politically-motivated and risky short-term fixes for long-term problems. It would be like borrowing money from the bank to pay off your credit card debt, Corn said. You just trade one debt for another and in all likelihood youre going to go out and charge up your credit cards again.
Senator Jeff Rabon, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, noted the recent wildfires that have swept across this state has prompted the Senate to boldly step forward with a plan that will help create a safer Oklahoma.
“The Senate felt like we had to step in, and put forth a plan that will give these rural fire departments the ability to continue to be the first line of defense against wildfires that threaten our homes, our churches, our businesses and our farm and ranchland.” Rabon said.
The Senate Finance Committee passed a measure Tuesday that will provide an income tax deduction for volunteer fire fighters, reserve police officers and reserve sheriff's deputies. House Bill 2073 is principally authored by Senator Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah) and Representative Glen Smithson (D-Sallisaw).