Press Releases

Showing: February, 2011

The state Senate on Monday approved legislation designed to ensure more Oklahoma high school students earn their diplomas.

“If we’re serious about growing our economy, we have to find a way to keep more of our students in school and on track for graduation,” said Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville. “I don’t believe we can expect improved results without raising expectations. This is a vital part of our effort to strengthen our schools and give our students a better chance for success.”

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Soldier had Oklahoma Roots

Oklahoma City – The last surviving United States Veteran of World War I passed away Sunday in his West Virginia home. Frank Buckles, who lived in Charles Town, W.V., died of natural causes, at the age of 110. Buckles grew up in Oklahoma and joined the Army at age 16.

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The Oklahoma Senate continued to work on lawsuit reform legislation Monday. Senate Bill 862, by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, received bi-partisan approval by a vote of 32-15.

If signed into law, the bill will eliminate joint and several liability. The measure will protect defendants from judgments that exceed their liability. SB 862 will ensure that defendants remain responsible for the portion of damages to which they are at fault.

“No one should have to pay for the wrongs of others,” said Sykes.

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The Senate supported legislation Thursday to make “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Oklahoma’s official gospel song. Sen. Eason McIntyre is the author of Senate Bill 73 recognizing the song written and composed by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory, sometime before 1862.
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Legislative leaders today commended officials with the Office of Juvenile Affairs for considering a review of the contract for a new juvenile facility during the agency’s coming board meeting, scheduled for Friday, February 25, at 10 a.m. at 3817 North Santa Fe in Oklahoma City.

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The Senate Public Safety Committee gave unanimous approval to a measure that could save lives by strengthening the state’s DUI laws. Senate Bill 529, the “Erin Elizabeth Swezey Act” is authored by Sen. Clark Jolley.
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Senate Honors Sooner Football Team

The state Senate on Wednesday honored the Oklahoma University football team and Head Coach Bob Stoops for their 2010 Big XII championship season and Fiesta Bowl victory.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, authored by Sens. John Sparks and Jonathan Nichols, commends the Sooners on their accomplishments on and off the field.

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The full Senate has given approval to one of the lawsuit reform measures recently passed out of committee. Supporters said the bill will help end Oklahoma’s reputation as a lawsuit destination state while preserving the right to a fair trial. The measure received bi-partisan support Wednesday afternoon with a vote of 29-18.
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An Edmond couple is hoping stronger DUI laws can help prevent other families from enduring their heartbreak. Keith and Dixie Swezey shared their story at a State Capitol press conference Wednesday. read more.

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 42 Wednesday, by Sen. Earl Garrison, prohibiting the use of children in the advertising and promotion of the Oklahoma Education Lottery.

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Senate bill will return the board to an original constitutional membership

The Senate has given its approval to legislation that will restructure membership of the State Board of Education and enhance checks and balances between the board and the superintendent. Senate Bill 435, by President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Sen. John Ford, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, passed Monday with the emergency clause on a party-line vote of 32 to 15.

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Beware of Feds Bearing Gifts

The future of education in Oklahoma has been hotly debated over the beginning weeks of our legislative session.  I think that debate is good and healthy.  The future of our state will be impacted directly by the decisions we make that effect the education of our children.

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A measure to make college degrees more affordable for those serving in Oklahoma’s National Guard or Oklahoma Reserves was approved in two Senate committees Wednesday. Senate Bill 251, by Sen. Steve Russell, creating the “Armed Services Tuition Fairness Act” was first heard in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee before moving on to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety.
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Senator Mike Mazzei said he was encouraged by Thursdays meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Pensions, the first for the panel. Mazzei, who chairs the committee, said Oklahoma currently faces an unfunded liability of $16 billion in the states six public retirement systems.

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The Senate Public Safety Committee has given approval to legislation to ban texting while driving. State Sen. Jerry Ellis is the author of Senate Bill 146 which was approved by the committee on Thursday.

“Many people I’ve talked to have seen a near miss or accident that involved someone not paying attention to the road because they were texting while driving,” said Ellis, D-Valliant. “Just since filing this bill I’ve heard from people who’ve been involved in wrecks because of texting and driving.”
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"My caucus and I are concerned with the possible impropriety of the State Department of Education being directed by senior staff who apparently are being paid by a private foundation, rather that state appropriated dollars. Today I submitted a request to Attorney General Pruitt asking his office to look into the possible constitutional and ethics problems that may exist with privately funded personnel supervising and managing state employees, and using state resources and property. read more.

A Senate Committee on Wednesday approved legislation requiring the display of the Honor and Remember Flag at the state Capitol to recognize fallen Oklahoma soldiers. Senate Bill 395 was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs on Wednesday.

Sen. Bill Brown, author of the measure, said the flag was a unifying symbol of gratitude to fallen servicepersons.

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The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee has given approval to help ensure veterans’ remains do not go unclaimed. Senate Bill 396, by Sen. Steve Russell, would also enable the Turnpike Authority to wave tolls for special escorts for military funerals.

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The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee approved legislation Wednesday to extend a portion of the sales tax exemption provided to 100% disabled veterans to their surviving spouses.
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Six public hearings have been scheduled by the Senate Committee on Redistricting—the panel tasked with redrawing district boundaries utilizing the latest U.S. Census data. Senators Clark Jolley and Bryce Marlatt are co-chairs of the committee, and said the public hearings would give Oklahomans from every part of the state the opportunity to attend one of the hearings.

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