The Leader of the Senate today said while there is still unfinished business to attend to during a special session, he believes the Senate Democrats accomplished great things for the people of Oklahoma during the Second Session of the 50th Oklahoma Legislature.
“At the beginning of the this legislative session Senate Democrats unveiled an aggressive agenda to ‘Empower the Middle Class,’ ‘Strengthen Small Business,’ ‘Create a Safer Oklahoma,’ and to ‘Make a More Accountable Oklahoma,’” Morgan said. “We have made great strides in those four areas and I am proud of Senate Democrats for working hard to make tomorrow better for future generations of Oklahomans.”
Morgan said a key victory for Senate Democrats came early in the session when an agreement was reached with House Republicans to hire additional correctional officers in Oklahoma state prisons.
“Senate Democrats pushed this issue until finally House Republicans could no longer turn their backs on the safety of our citizens,” Morgan said. “Because of our efforts, we were able to reach an agreement that ensures a safer Oklahoma for our families, our children and our communities.”
Morgan said Senate Democrats were also able to double the operational grants for rural fire departments that were crippled from the months of wildfires that ravaged through the state.
“Again, we pushed this issue until House Republicans had no choice but to join us in our fight to help these heroes that are the first line of defense against the wildfires that threatened our homes, our churches, our farm and ranchland and our businesses,” he said.
Morgan said other key victories for Senate Democrats during this session include the following legislation:
· Legislation that invests in centennial projects throughout the state in order for Oklahoma to proudly celebrate our first 100 years;
· The Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) bill by Senator Susan Paddack that makes Oklahoma classrooms more accountable through high-stakes testing for high school graduates;
· A bill by Senator Susan Paddack called “Caitlin’s Law” that strengthens bail requirements ensuring criminals remain locked up behind bars away from our children;
· A pair of bills by Senators Jay Paul Gumm and Charlie Wyrick that crack down on the importation of Meth from Mexico by increasing penalties for drug trafficking and restricting wire transfers of money used to buy and sell Meth to Oklahomans;
· A pair of identity theft measures by Senator Randy Bass that protect our senior citizens from the financial devastation this new crime brings, included in the bills are provisions that outlaw the sale of cell phone records and allows Oklahomans to freeze their credit;
· A bill by Senator Mary Easley that honors our fallen soldiers by restricting access of protestors from military funerals;
· A bill by Senators Frank Shurden and Daisy Lawler that protects the rights of rural property owners—a major legislative priority for members of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau;
· A bill by Senator Jay Paul Gumm that expands the rights of gun owners by removing the power of the Governor to take away weapons during a declared state of emergency;
· Legislation by Senator Jay Paul Gumm that protects Oklahoma children from child molesters by giving juries the option of sentencing repeat predators to the death penalty;
· Legislation by Senator Jim Wilson that protects Oklahoma children from internet predators;
· Legislation by Senators Earl Garrison and Jeff Rabon aimed at cracking down on underage drinking and power hours;
· And legislation by Cal Hobson that creates a diabetes research center and invests money into the world-class cancer research center.
“As you can see from this lengthy list of accomplishments that Senate Democrats have been busy this session focusing on Oklahoma’s next generation, rather than wasting time focusing on the next elections like some in this building have chosen to do,” Morgan said. “That was our goal and our pledge to the people of this great state and our word is our honor.”
Morgan said he is disappointed that Republicans said “No” to middle class families by stalling on legislation that would have expanding the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP).
“The OHLAP expansion bill would have given more children from middle class families the opportunity to realize their dream of going to college,” Morgan said. “Senate Democrats firmly believe a child’s chance at a higher education should be based on that child’s ability to learn and not on mom and dad’s ability to pay. It is disappointing that Republicans killed a great opportunity to invest in the dreams of our future generation of leaders.”
Morgan said it was also disheartening to see Republicans turn their backs on small businesses throughout Oklahoma by saying “No” to the expansion of the Premium Assistance Program that would have given more small business owners the opportunity to offer affordable health insurance for their employees.
“These two common-sense measures embodied the value Senate Democrats place on personal responsibility and accountability and it’s just a shame that we couldn’t get the Republicans to join us in our fight to invest in the future of Oklahoma.”