Although the 2017 session has not yet begun, freshman Sen. Joe Newhouse has already determined his focus for the next four years—helping address the need to revisit specific tax preferences in order to better manage public resources. Last month, the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission released a lengthy report focusing on 11 tax incentives. Newhouse has filed a slate of bills for the 2017 session largely based on the findings of that report.
President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and the Senate Republican Caucus on Thursday unveiled a 2017 legislative agenda with a focus on long-term solutions to build a more prosperous Oklahoma.read more.
Every year, state agency heads and their staff come to the Capitol for annual budget hearings—it gives them an opportunity to explain to lawmakers how the dollars they receive are used as well as giving legislators a chance to ask about funding priorities and other related issues. Those hearings are now underway in the Senate.
Senate Appropriations Chair Kim David said this year some of those hearings will take place in state agencies headquarters and facilities, rather than in committee rooms at the Capitol.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Senator Roland Pederson filed two bills this week as the filing deadline for the 2017 legislative session came to a close.read more.
The Senate has completed filing bills for the first session of the 56th Legislature. A total of 831 Senate Bills were filed, along with 46 senate joint resolutions and one senate concurrent resolution. In 2015, a total of 815 Senate bills were filed, along with 32 senate joint resolutions.
Legislation was filed Thursday to strengthen Oklahoma’s Heartbeat Informed Consent Act by providing a scientific definition of when life begins, with the first heartbeat. Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, filed Senate Bill 710 to prohibit abortions if the embryonic or fetal heartbeat of the unborn child is audible.
Sen. Paul Scott filed legislation Thursday to charge individuals a fee on international wire transactions who do not present valid personal identification. The Duncan Republican said he hopes the bill will cut down on the number of undocumented immigrants sending untaxed dollars out of the state as well as address drug money being funneled to other countries.read more.
Sen. David Holt has introduced Senate Bill 316, which would provide a $10,000 raise to all Oklahoma classroom teachers over a four-year period beginning this fall. Holt has further introduced 12 separate measures to provide funding options for the raise.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey announced that they will be holding a town hall meeting on Tuesday, January 24, to share information regarding a possible veterans’ cemetery in the community. The legislators will be joined by officials from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs’ (ODVA). The meeting will take place at 7:00 PM in the Ardmore Convention Center.
State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom has filed a bill that would cap tax credits at $25 million statewide for electricity generated by zero emission facilities, including wind energy, and another that could use the savings to provide a graduated teacher pay raise over the next three years.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Senator Micheal Bergstrom filed a bill this week to move the existing sunset date for the film industry tax credit program from July 1, 2024 to January 1, 2018. Citing the anticipated continuing budget hole this year, Bergstrom, R- Adair, said accelerating the expiration of the program will save money that can be used in other crucial core areas like education.read more.
Sen. Greg McCortney has filed his first three bills for consideration in the upcoming legislative session. McCortney, R-Ada, said all three are aimed at either modernizing or unifying statutes concerning the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET).
“CLEET is a vital part of Oklahoma’s overall public safety efforts, and the center in Ada is vital to District 13. The center and its mission are both priorities for me, and I look forward to working with CLEET and our law enforcement community in the State Senate,” McCortney said.read more.
Sen. Ron Sharp filed legislation Wednesday to ensure more Oklahoma teachers and other school employees who volunteer at school functions are protected from student violence and threats. Senate Bill 81 will add third, fourth and fifth grade students to the list of those who will be subject to out-of-school suspension if they are violent towards school personnel.
Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks has announced his appointments to the caucus leadership team for the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. Sparks, D-Norman, released the assignments on Thursday. read more.
Oklahoma State Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, reiterated his opposition to a planned tribal casino near Guymon, saying it’s time to reevaluate the framework of casino gambling in Oklahoma if the federal government is going to allow tribal gaming in areas of the state with no historical tribal connections.read more.
The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday convened for an organizational day and, on a unanimous vote officially, elected Sen. Mike Schulz of Altus as President Pro Tempore. Schulz is the first senator from western Oklahoma to lead the Senate in more than 50 years. Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, made the motion nominating Schulz as President Pro Tempore and, in a show of bipartisan support, the motion was seconded by Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman.
Sen. J.J. Dossett was recently appointed by his fellow legislators to serve as Co-Chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (OLSC). The Sperry Democrat replaces Sen. John Sparks of Norman who completed his chairmanship last month.
“Hunting and fishing is an important part of our state’s heritage and plays a strong role in our tourism industry and economy,” said Dossett. “This caucus works to protect and promote the sportsmen’s traditions in Oklahoma and I’m honored to have been chosen to serve in this role.”