Week 12 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

VIDEO: Veteran of the Week

House Committed to Funding Teacher Pay Raise Plan

House Speaker Charles McCall and House Common Education Committee Chairman Michael Rogers reiterated today that the House Republican Caucus is committed to funding the teacher pay raise plan passed by both the House and the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee this session. The plan – one of the House Republican Caucus’ highest priorities this session – would phase in a $6,000 teacher pay raise over three years and boost Oklahoma teachers to some of the highest paid in the region.

 

Beginning last week and continuing this week, House Republicans are running a package of bills aimed at reforming numerous tax credits, exemptions and incentives. Speaker McCall said the first $52.6 million in savings from those reforms would be directed toward funding the teacher pay raise.

House Bill 1114, by state Rep. Michael Rogers, chair of the House Common Education Committee, would include a $1,000 pay raise for teachers during the 2017-18 school year, another $2,000 raise during the 2018-19 school year and a final $3,000 raise during the 2019-20 school year.

Rogers said the phased-in approach would allow the Legislature to manage the current revenue downturn while keeping its promise to boost pay for teachers. Every $1,000 increase in teacher pay would cost approximately $52.6 million, said Rogers.

Oklahoma already has the third-highest statutory starting minimum teacher pay in the region. Rogers’ plan would raise Oklahoma teacher pay from 48th in the nation to 27th based on recent data from the National Education Association (NEA). When paired with the state’s low cost of living, the plan would move Oklahoma to 13th in the nation for average annual teacher pay at $56,804 (adjusted for cost of living). Oklahoma’s cost of living ranks behind only Mississippi for the lowest in the nation.

House Bill 1114 is currently awaiting consideration on the Senate floor.

 

House Commemorates Honor Denim Day at the Capitol

Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives proclaimed today Honor Denim Day recognizing the importance of promoting awareness about sexual violence.

State Rep. Tess Teague authored House Concurrent Resolution 1001, which officially recognizes the day in Oklahoma.

For the past 17 years, the Honor Denim Day campaign has been held in April in support of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. The campaign began in response to a 1998 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.

Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence, developed the Honor Denim Day campaign in response to the Italian Supreme Court case.

Wearing jeans on Honor Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and disparaging attitudes about sexual assault.

The Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault worked closely with Rep. Tess Teague for the implementation of Honor Denim Day in Oklahoma.

 

Bill increasing court safety heads to the governor

Legislation allowing permitted elected officials to carry firearms inside a courthouse passed Tuesday out of the Oklahoma Senate with a vote of 38 to 6.

House Bill 1104 would allow elected officials of a county, who are in possession of a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self Defense Act, when acting in the performance of their duties as an elected official to carry a concealed firearm within the courthouses of the county in which he or she was elected.

The National Rifle Association has endorsed the measure.

House Bill 1104 now proceeds to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration.

 

Modernization Chairman Asks Legislators to Avoid Failed Massachusetts Tax Hike Mistake

House Government Modernization Chairman Jason Murphey today expressed his strongest opposition to the impending introduction of a legislative plan to put a new tax on the use of information technology services.

Murphey said the tax plan has failed in other states where it has been tried.

In 2013, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a tax only to have to backtrack and repeal the tax just a few weeks later after it became clear that the new tax would potentially apply to many industries and put that state at a great disadvantage.

In 2007, Maryland also approved the new tax only to repeal it just a year later.

Murphey explained that the Oklahoma proposal appears to be even more aggressive than the Massachusetts tax plan.

Murphey said because so many services now utilize computer-based processes the implications of the new Oklahoma tax could reach far beyond the expected audience.

 

Biggs Praises Senate for Passing Criminal Justice Legislation

Two pieces of legislation designed to protect victims of sexual assault crimes have passed the Senate today with unanimous bipartisan support.

House Bill 1005 elevates the crime of rape by instrumentation to rape in the first degree. State law currently views rape by instrumentation as rape in the second degree.

House Bill 1127 requires that a court must instruct the jury on the definition of “consent” in any criminal jury trial that involves “sexual assault.” Although juries are currently requires to follow the legal definition of “consent,” the understanding of the definition can change from jury member to jury member.

Both measures were authored by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha.

The legislation will now move to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk to be signed into law.

 

Sen. Floyd applauds task force on rape kits

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, more than 1,900 rapes were reported in the state in 2015 alone. Sexual assault forensic evidence kits help collect and preserve evidence following an assault, but there is no law in Oklahoma requiring these kits to be tracked or tested, and national data suggests some kits may never be tested. It’s an issue Sen. Kay Floyd has been working to address this session.

Floyd had originally sought the creation of a task force through legislation filed for the 2017 session, and has met with the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office, police, prosecutors and advocates about the issue of untested rape kits. On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin announced she had issued an Executive Order to create the task force.

Executive Order 2017-11 forms the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence. It designates the make-up of the task force, its goals, and the timeline for law enforcement agencies throughout the state to submit their audits of untested kits and the deadline for submitting the final task force report to the governor and legislative leaders. The task force will:

• Examine the process for gathering and analyzing rape kits; identify the number of untested kits through audits done by all law enforcement agencies in the state;

• Identify how to improve law enforcement training on responding and investigating sexual assaults;

• Identify improvements for victims access to evidence other than sexual assault forensic evidence kits, including but not limited to police reports and other physical evidence;

• Identify possible procedures for the testing of anonymous sexual assault evidence kits;

• Identify additional rights of victims about the evidence kit testing process; and

• Identify and pursue grants and other funding sources to eliminate the backlog of untested kits, reduce testing wait times, provide victim notification and improve efficiencies in the kit testing process.

Local police and sheriffs’ departments will have until December 30, 2017, to file a written report with the Attorney General and the Task Force stating the audit results, including the number of untested kits they have. Those agencies must preserve the kits until the Task Force notifies them in writing that they may be disposed of. The final report by the Task Force must be completed and submitted to the governor and legislative leaders by July 1, 2018.

 

Governor signs bill improving online insurance verification system

Gov. Fallin signed legislation Monday to help further reduce the number of uninsured drivers in Oklahoma. Sen. Ron Sharp is the principal Senate author of Senate Bill 115 to transfer oversight of the Compulsory Insurance Online Verification System (OCIVS) for motor vehicle liability policies from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID).

According to DPS, around 600,000 or 26 percent of Oklahomans are driving uninsured. The Oklahoma Compulsory Insurance Verification System was created by DPS to help law enforcement officers, tag agents, and court clerks quickly verify if a driver has auto insurance.

SB 115 requires that the system and the Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Program be transferred by January 1, 2018. It requires the Tax Commission and DPS to cooperate with OID in ongoing improvement and maintenance of the system. Under the new law, the Insurance Commissioner will be authorized to initiate an administrative proceeding against an insurance company that is not providing vehicle insurance policy information to the online verification system. The bill also allows a motor license agent or other registering agency to accept security verification from a licensed insurance producer or customer service representative if the online verification system is not online or the information is otherwise unavailable.

SB 115, which is coauthored by Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia), will become effective November 1, 2017.

 

Bill signed to better protect underage victims of human trafficking

A bill to strengthen Oklahoma’s human trafficking laws and better protect underage victims was signed into law Monday. Senate Bill 34, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Scott Biggs, provides that lack of knowledge of the age of the victim does not constitute a defense for the human trafficking of a minor.

There are different types of human trafficking including sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude and it occurs through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Human trafficking is a common crime in Oklahoma because of its location along the I-40 and I-35 corridor as well as the prominence of various social problems.

In the last fiscal year, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated nationwide 1,034 investigations of human trafficking and recorded 1,437 arrests, 751 indictments, and 587 convictions; 384 victims were identified and assisted.

SB 34 will go into effect November 1, 2017.

 

Senate approves creation of independent commission to conduct performance audits of state agencies

The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday in a bipartisan vote approved a bill creating an independent commission to conduct comprehensive performance audits of state agencies. House Bill 2311 is authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka.

The bill creates the Agency Performance and Accountability Commission which is directed to conduct a comprehensive performance audit of state agencies, as well as conduct a diagnostic analysis of the state’s budget to identify spending trends. The commission would then make recommendations to the Legislature on how to implement best practices from both the private and public sector to ensure state government services are run in the most cost-effective manner.

The measure now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments to the bill.

 

Gov. Fallin Announces Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence

Governor Mary Fallin today announced the formation of the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence to address the backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits, commonly known as rape kits, in the criminal justice system in Oklahoma. The task force will conduct an audit of sexual assault forensic evidence kits in the state, pinpointing the number of untested kits, and then identify possible improvements in law enforcement training, victims’ rights and access, and the process for gathering and analyzing rape kits.

Currently, Oklahoma does not have a statewide tracking system for rape kits nor a mandate to test all rape kits. It is estimated that only a quarter of rape kits are tested, leaving thousands of untested kits in police department warehouses across the state. In addition, current regulations are not very clear regarding when and how to destroy untested kits. The legislation that inspired this task force is Senate Bill 654.

Task Force members shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor, according to the governor’s executive order. Members are:

·         Lesley March, the chief of the attorney general’s victim services unit, or her designee;

·         Danielle Tudor, a survivor of sexual assault with experience with sexual assault forensic evidence kit collection;

·         Kathy Bell, a sexual assault nurse examiner;

·         Andrea Swiech, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation director of forensic science services, a person designated by the director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation who has expertise in the analysis of sexual assault forensic evidence kits;

·         Jan Peery, chief executive officer of YWCA of Oklahoma City, a person with experience seeking and applying for grants and other private funding;

·         Phil Cotton, the executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriff and Peace Officers Association, or his designee;

·         Bill Citty, chief of the Oklahoma City Police Department, or his designee;

·         Chuck Jordan, chief of the Tulsa Police Department, or his designee;

·         Ray McNair, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, or his designee;

·         Bob Ravitz, an attorney from a public defenders office with criminal defense experience;

·         Karla Doctor, senior director of sexual violence prevention response, a sexual assault victims’ advocate from a community-based organization;

·         Trent Baggett, executive coordinator of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council, or his designee;

·         Dawn Stover, executive director of the Native Alliance Against Violence, or her designee;

·         Two nonvoting members from among the members of the Senate, of which may not be from the same political party; and

·         Two nonvoting members from among the members of the House of Representatives, of which may not be from the same political party.

 

Computer Science, Coding Skills in High Demand by Businesses across Our State

April is science and technology month in Oklahoma. What a great time to highlight the emerging computer science scene that is shaping our economy and driving our future.

In Oklahoma, our emerging software community has taken on a life of its own.  These are coding professionals who know programming languages with names like C++, Perl, Ruby, Elixir, Python or Javascript.

Colleges, universities and technology centers across the state offer classes and postsecondary degree programs in computer science; software development is part of the curriculum.  Students who graduate with computer science postsecondary degrees and credentials are ready to join the workforce and shape our future with innovative software.  Degrees in programming, coding and computer science skills are in high demand by Oklahoma’s businesses. Numerous high-paying jobs are available throughout the state.

In addition to formal software education, there are flourishing grassroots efforts to grow the coding community across Oklahoma.  One of the most impactful is the vibrant community of coders nurtured by an Oklahoma City and Tulsa not-for-profit foundation known as Techlahoma.

Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Jesse and Amanda Harlin along with Vance Lucas, Techlahoma says its goal is to help Oklahomans become workforce ready by creating free training each week. It provides meeting space for user groups and boasts an online community of more than 3,000.

With accommodations provided by StarSpace46 in Oklahoma City and 36° North in Tulsa, Techlahoma is home to at least two dozen coding user groups that regularly meet in its space. Groups hosted by Techlahoma include Code for OKC, Code for Tulsa, Nerdy Girls OKC Code Club, OKC Python and OKC.js, one of several programming-focused groups that meet there.

Both StarSpace46 and 36° North are community-focused co-working and collaboration spaces that serve as startup incubators.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently invited two other governors and me to take part in the Girls Who Code 2017 Female Governors’ Summit at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.  I was able to speak to our state’s thriving initiatives to connect Oklahoma children in the K-12 age group with computer science education and all things STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Rep. Elise Hall earns NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award

The Oklahoma office of the National Federation of Independent Business has presented its coveted Guardian of Small Business Award to state Rep. Elise Hall (Oklahoma City). 

The Guardian of Small Business award is the most prestigious honor that NFIB bestows on legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business issues. The NFIB Oklahoma Leadership Council, an advisory board comprised of NFIB members, voted to present the award to Hall.

“Representative Hall has a 100-percent lifetime NFIB voting record but earned this award for her work as chair of the House Business, Commerce, and Tourism Committee,” Shouse said. “Representative Hall has consistently opposed job-killing mandates and other measures that would have undermined small business in Oklahoma. Time and again, despite intense pressure from the opposition, she supported the small-business position on issues ranging from workers’ comp to taxes.

“Entrepreneurs across the state appreciate Representative Hall’s efforts to create a level playing field for small businesses,” Shouse said. “She truly is a Guardian of Small Business.”

NFIB is Oklahoma’s leading small-business association. To learn more, visitwww.NFIB.com/OK and follow @NFIB_OK on Twitter.

 

Week 11 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

Legislative Session Update | April 17-20, 2017

A Tribute to Rep. David Brumbaugh

Ardmore Man Donates $50,000 to Save State Science Fair

When James Young from Ardmore read that the State Science Fair was being cut from the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s budget this year, he decided to do something about it.

The constituent from state Rep. Pat Ownbey’s district called his representative to find out where he could send a check to save the event, which is held annually at East Central University in Ada.

Young said his check for $50,000 is already in the mail, earmarked for the State Science Fair.

Ownbey worked with the Oklahoma State Department of Education to find out where Young’s contribution could be sent and to ensure it would be used to hold the state’s science fair.

The department said that funding for the science fair was eliminated last year as part of $38.2 million in cuts to the Public School Activities Fund.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that over the past 10 years, growth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs was three times greater than non-STEM jobs, and that trend is expected to continue.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister praised Young for his generous contribution.

Young said he earned a science degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and taught for a number of years before going back to school to earn his DDS. He practiced dentistry in Ardmore before retiring.

Young said he worked with students in science fairs in the past and knows what this participation can mean for them. His oldest daughter participated in the International Science Fair in the 1980s, and he witnessed what that event meant to her. That led to his gift, he said.

 

Oklahoma Senate approves earlier sunset of wind tax credit

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz released the following statement after the Senate approved HB 2298, which moves up the sunset date of the zero-emissions tax credit to July 1, 2017.

HB 2298, authored by Schulz, R-Altus, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, passed the Senate by a vote of 40-3. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.

 

Gov. Fallin Announces Oklahoma's First-ever Pay for Success Contract Addressing Female Incarceration

Governor Mary Fallin today announced that the state of Oklahoma and Tulsa-based Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) have entered into a groundbreaking Pay for Success (PFS) contract aimed at reducing Oklahoma’s nation-leading female incarceration rate by securing public-private investment in the successful Women in Recovery (WIR) prison diversion program. This project will enable WIR to expand its services, admitting up to 125 women into the program annually for up to five years.

Pay for Success is an innovative funding model that combines nonprofit expertise, private funding, and independent evaluation to transform how government leaders respond to chronic social issues. Through PFS, funders provide the upfront capital to scale effective service providers. Government agrees to repay funders if and when the project achieves its desired impact. Through this PFS contract, the state will repay only if WIR program participants are not incarcerated in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).

The first PFS project was launched in Peterborough, United Kingdom, in 2010 and was aimed at reducing prisoner recidivism. Today there are more than 70 projects in 18 countries, with 16 projects in the U.S.  The model has attracted strong bipartisan support due to its focus on evidence-based policymaking and the achievement of outcomes. The contract between the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and F&CS is the 17th PFS contract in the U.S. and the first PFS contract focused on female incarceration.

The state requires F&CS to secure at least $2 million in capital to fund the program each year before the contract can be renewed. To reduce financial risk for the state and to assure continued financial solvency of WIR, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) will also continue to provide its current commitment of $1.8 million a year to services to address female incarceration in Tulsa County, including WIR. The use of philanthropic funding from GKFF allows for payments from the state to be re-invested directly back into a successful program, as outcomes are achieved.

The adoption of the Pay for Success model transfers risk from the state to the private sector, in pursuit of preventive programs that hold promise for long-term cost savings and social benefits.

Social Finance, a nonprofit organization with deep experience designing and managing PFS projects, served as project advisor.

The PFS project was made possible by Senate Bill 1278, which Fallin signed into law in 2014. The bill, authored by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, and Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, gave the state the ability to take new approaches to criminal justice programming by authorizing OMES to enter into PFS contracts with qualified criminal justice service providers.

The contract presents no financial risk to the state, which was particularly appealing to state officials at a time of budget challenges. Payments are only made for successful program outcomes.  Additionally, the total payments made for a successful program outcome are considerably less than the direct costs of incarceration and the costs of all of the documented negative future impacts of incarceration on employment, health, family stability and social assistance.

 

Gov. Fallin Statement upon Signing Wind Tax Legislation

Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement after signing House Bill 2298, which was authored by Speaker Charles McCall (R-22), and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-38) and passed the Senate 40-3 last Monday. This legislation would sunset the tax credits for the wind industry on July 1, 2017.

 

Gov. Fallin, DHS Announce Statewide Foster Care Call to Action Day

Governor Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that today is Statewide Foster Care Call to Action Day. It is intended to promote community awareness of the need for Oklahoma foster families, foster care and overall support for foster families throughout the state of Oklahoma.

More than 80 events have been planned throughout today with at least one informational meeting in each of the state’s 77 counties. The meetings will provide an opportunity to learn about foster care as well as talk and share experiences with foster parents.

Oklahomans may see where the meetings are and who is hosting them by clicking on a map of counties here: or going to the Oklahoma Fosters Facebook page and clicking on events.

Sponsors who are working to reach this year’s foster recruitment goal and supporting foster parents include Anna’s House, Bair Foundation, Circle of Care, DCCCA, Eastern Oklahoma Youth Services, Eckerd, Homebased Services, Kehila Park, Lilyfield, Oklahoma Association of Youth Services, Oklahoma Families First, St. Francis, Sunbeam, Tallgrass Family Services, Wesleyan and Youth Care of Oklahoma.

 

Gov. Fallin, Kodak Officials Announce Company Bringing New Jobs to Weatherford Facility

Governor Mary Fallin today joined Kodak and community officials in Weatherford to announce that the company is adding new jobs at its facility in Weatherford.

Kodak hosted customers and community leaders at a groundbreaking ceremony at its manufacturing facility in Weatherford to celebrate its expansion. The expansion will accommodate a new flexo plate line.

The event’s theme centered on the revitalization and investment of the Weatherford plant in its 50th anniversary year. Kodak officials said the Weatherford plant was chosen because of its strong technical capabilities and existing skilled, tenured workforce.

The $15 million investment represents one of the company’s largest capital investments since 2000 and underscores the ongoing growth and adoption of Kodak Flexcel NX plates that grew 16 percent in 2016 compared with the previous year.

The new flexo plate line is expected to be in full production by early 2019 and will initially focus on supply of Flexcel NX plates to customers in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Week 8 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

House and Senate commemorate Tinker’s 75th Anniversary

The House of Representatives hosted Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander at Tinker Air Force Base and the senior ranking military member in the state, to mark the 75th anniversary of Tinker Air Force Base on Thursday.

Tinker Air Force Base was officially activated on March 1, 1942, with the name “Oklahoma City Air Depot.” Later that year, the War Department named the depot installation Tinker Field in memory of Oklahoma native, Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker.

The Air Force Sustainment Center is headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base and generates millions of dollars in contracts with small businesses in Oklahoma. It is the supply chain for all parts and equipment for the Air Force, supporting 5,000 aircraft, 14,000 engines, helicopters, missiles, support equipment and 65 foreign militaries.

In his current position, Lt. Gen. Levy ensures the center provides operational planning and execution for the Air Force supply chain management and depot maintenance for a wide range of aircraft, engines, missiles and component items in support of United States Air Force missions.

 

Roberts Honored Second Time by Oklahoma Veterans Council

Oklahoma Veterans Council Chairman Col. Pete Peterson bestowed the Legislator of the Year Award on state Rep. Dustin Roberts on Monday in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The award was given largely for Roberts’ authorship of and support of bills that increase services and support of the state’s nearly 336,000 veterans.

Each year, the Oklahoma Veterans Council issues this award to a state representative and a state Senator who go above and beyond in their duties for veterans.

The House and Senate held a joint session Monday in observance of veterans’ awareness.

Roberts is a veteran himself, serving in the United States Navy for five years. He completed three tours during the War on Terrorism. He was awarded two Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals for his efforts in the Horn of Africa situation and again in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was also awarded as the Blue Jacket of the Year and Junior Sailor of the Year.

In his acceptance speech, Roberts thanked the veterans in attendance on the House floor and in the gallery, as well as the families of veterans for their sacrifice and support while their family member is deployed. In addition, he thanked the Oklahoma Veterans Council on their guidance in helping to navigate the legislative process and for their willingness to be a voice for the veterans unable to come to the Capitol.

Roberts also thanked his wife, Lindsay Roberts, for allowing him to give countless hours of time away from his family to fight for veterans’ rights and care.

 

Sen. Standridge praises parents and other supporters after State Board of Education approves Norman charter school

State Sen. Rob Standridge applauded the State Board of Education’s decision Thursday to approve a proposed French immersion charter school in Norman. The concept for the charter school came about after the French immersion program at Reagan Elementary in Norman was cut. Parents of students who were thriving in the program worked tirelessly to continue the school’s mission through a charter school, the Le Monde Internal School. Standridge was among those supporting the application.

“We are thrilled that LeMonde will become a reality, and I want to thank the State Board of Education, and especially the parents, teachers and other supporters throughout the community who have worked so hard to ensure this unique educational opportunity will continue to be available for Norman students,” said Standridge, R-Norman. “Charter schools are a way to offer innovative approaches to educating our children in an environment that motivates and stimulates learning. This dedicated group of citizens worked for months to come up with one of the most innovative charter school ideas in the history of our state.”

Standridge said the Norman community had embraced the proposed charter school, and said because of the passion and commitment of the parents of children involved in the Norman Public Schools French Immersion program, many more children would be able to benefit from the vision born at Reagan Elementary years before.

“So many people involved in education, including administrators, teachers and even parents will tell you without hesitation that much of the problem today with getting a child a solid education is the lack of parent involvement and commitment. LeMonde is an example of exactly the opposite. This school will become a reality because of the many parents, students and outstanding educators who became impassioned and involved to a degree rarely ever seen in common education today,” Standridge said. “Approval of this unique charter school and the educational opportunities it will offer is a huge step forward for our students, our community and our state.”

 

Gov. Fallin Announces Outreach for Veterans Pilot Program

Governor Mary Fallin today announced efforts to inform Oklahoma veterans about the Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, a private/public initiative to develop a comprehensive health care access and delivery system for the state’s veterans.

A comprehensive outreach program will be spearheaded by the Force 50 Brigade and its two subgroups, Victory Company and the County Chairpersons Leadership Team.

The governor made the announcement as hundreds of veterans gathered at the state Capitol to take part in the annual Veterans Appreciation Day activities.

The Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, which was launched in September, is a private/public effort to develop a comprehensive transitional system of care designed to deliver accessible quality healthcare to veterans statewide. The system will cover healthcare services in mental health, home health, nursing care, rehabilitative services, and coordinated access to physician services, laboratory services, pharmacy services and tele-health capability.

The Force 50 Brigade, which is the primary public awareness organization of the Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, will consist of 50 well-known Oklahoma entertainers, sports figures and professionals from the film and music industries, as well as two critical subgroups, the County Chairperson Leadership Team and Victor Company. Victor Company is the Veterans Leadership Team and will consist of veterans organizations and leaders within the veterans community. As the most integral part of this effort, it has been mobilized first, and will be led by Pete Peterson and Scott Ellis, leaders of the Oklahoma Veterans Council.

The Victor Company members and organizations include:

  • American Legion
  • American Ex-POWs
  • Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
  • Fleet Reserve Association
  • Marine Corps League
  • Military Officers Assn. Of America
  • Nat’l Assn. of Black Veterans
  • Oklahoma Womens’ Veterans Organization
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Mid-America Chapter
  • Rolling Thunder Oklahoma Chapter 1
  • Special Forces Oklahoma Chapter 32
  • U.S. Sub. Veterans, Inc., USS OKC Base
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Viet Nam Veterans of America

 

Gov. Fallin Calls Special Elections for State Senate District 44, House District 46 Seats

Governor Mary Fallin today ordered special elections to fill the vacancies in Oklahoma Senate District 44, caused by the immediate resignation of Ralph Shortey, and Oklahoma House District 46, caused by Rep. Scott Martin’s decision to resign effective May 31.

The filing period for both special elections is May 1-3. The special primary election is set for July 11 and the special general election is scheduled for Sept. 12.

In the event a special primary election is not necessary, the special general election will be July 11.

Shortey, of Oklahoma City, and Martin, of Norman, both announced their decisions to resign last week.

Gov. Fallin Announces Oklahoma Tax Commission Appointment

Governor Mary Fallin today announced the appointment of former state Sen. Clark Jolley to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. He succeeds Dawn Cash, who resigned earlier this month.

Jolley’s appointment to the Tax Commission requires confirmation from the state Senate. His term would expire Jan. 10, 2023.

Jolley, of Edmond, serves as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma Christian University and Mid-America Christian University. He served in the state Senate from 2004 until 2016, the last five years as chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He could not seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits.

Jolley earned two degrees from Oklahoma Baptist University, a law degree from the University of Oklahoma, and a certificate in public treasury management from the National Institute of Public Finance at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

He and his family make their home in Edmond, where his children attend Edmond Public Schools.

Week 7 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

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Major Criminal Justice Reforms Pass House

State Rep. Terry O’Donnell authored three bills advancing criminal justice reform that passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 2281 creates graduated penalties for those accused of certain larceny or forgery crimes, reducing some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and modifying fines as well as the mandatory lengths of sentences. The bill passed by a vote of 84-8.

House Bill 2284 would require public defenders to receive continuing education training regarding best treatment practices for defendants with substance abuse or mental health problems and would require training for judges and state prosecutors on how to best deal with victims of domestic violence and trauma. The training is contingent on funding availability. The bill passed 84-2.

House Bill 2286 would allow some nonviolent state inmates to apply for parole after serving one-fourth of their sentence if they have earned enough credits instead of the one-third now required. The bill also would require additional Pardon and Parole Board member training and better communication from the board to improve parole outcomes. And, it will ensure better mental health and substance abuse treatment standards. The bill passed the House 81-3.

The bills were part of the recommendation of the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force convened by Gov. Mary Fallin last year.

O’Donnell said the state’s overcrowded prisons pose not only a financial burden but a safety issue for corrections officers, and they open the state to lawsuits.

Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation for women and the third highest rate for men. Without these and other reform measures, Oklahoma’s prison population is expected to grow by 25 percent over the next 10 years, which would cost a total of $1.9 billion.

These measures are intended to eliminate the need for more than 7,800 prison beds at an estimated savings of about $148.7 million.

The measures now move to the state Senate for consideration.

Medical Billing Legislation Clears House Unanimously

Legislation aimed to lessen surprise medical bills passed Tuesday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a unanimous vote of 93 to 0.

House Bill 2216 by Rep. Sean Roberts requires a non-contracted provider to give a health plan enrollee notice, a good-faith estimate of charges and a disclosure that the provider will either accept the assignment of benefits for the plan’s allowed amount or balance-bill the enrollee.

Roberts said patients will then be able to request a different provider who is covered by insurance instead of being subjected to an unexpected medical bill.

HB 2216 now moves to the Senate, where state Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, is the author.

Roberts represents House District 36, which includes parts of Osage and Tulsa counties.

Martin to Resign at end of Session to Lead Norman Chamber

State Rep. Scott Martin today announced that at the end of this legislative session he will resign his seat in the Legislature to lead the Norman Chamber of Commerce. At its Board meeting today, the Norman Chamber named Rep. Martin its next president and chief executive officer beginning June 1. He has submitted the appropriate paperwork to Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall, tendering his resignation from his House seat effective May 31. 

Bill strengthening drunk driving laws clears House

A bill aimed at combating drunk driving passed Wednesday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 82 to 6.

House Bill 1605 by state Rep. John Enns allows courts to order a person convicted of driving under the influence to abstain from alcohol for a period of time determined by the court. Under the measure, individuals under the age of 21 who are convicted of a DUI will see their license revoked or suspended until they turn 21 and an ignition interlock device added to their vehicle. For individuals over 21, the driver’s license will be replaced with a license stamped with “alcohol restricted,” which will alert law enforcement officers who pull them over in the future of this previous DUI.

HB 1605 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, is the author.

Bill lessening tag requirement for bear hunting passes House

A bill changing the requirement for bear tags cleared the House of Representatives Wednesday with a vote of 59 to 31.

House Bill 2001 by Rep. Rick West prohibits lifetime hunting and fishing license holders from having to purchase individual tags for bear hunting. People exempt from the hunting license fee will also be exempt from attaching a tag to a killed bear or from purchasing a tag for a bear.

Bear hunting only occurs Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties in Oklahoma.

Rep. John Bennett co-authored the bill and debated in favor of its passage on the House floor.

HB 2001 now moves to the state Senate, where Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, is the author. 

Oklahoma Senate approves judicial reforms

The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday approved a handful of judicial reform bills, including measures that would change the way state judges are appointed.

“These reforms are a measured approach to help restore the balance of power among the three, co-equal branches of government in Oklahoma. Too many times, we’ve seen the judiciary extend beyond its constitutional role and instead take on the role of a super-legislator. These changes also will roll back the outsized role the trial lawyers play in appointing judges to the bench. The governor’s office and the members of the Senate are directly elected by the citizens of Oklahoma and should be afforded more authority and responsibility in judicial appointments,” said President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered several of the judicial reform measures.

“Failing to enact judicial reforms continues to put Oklahoma at the mercy of a system that gives too much power to a select group of trial lawyers instead of the duly elected representatives of the people. The governor and members of the Legislature are immediately accountable to the people for the decisions they make. These common-sense reforms will provide more accountability and help put more power into the hands of the people, as our founders intended,” said Sykes, R-Moore.

Among the bills approved by the Senate were:

• SB 708 (Sykes) requires a district judge to have served as lead counsel in at least three jury trials before being elected or appointed to serve on the bench.

• SB 779 (Sykes) changes the amount of judges each judicial district may nominate.

• SJR 43 (Sykes) would allow voters to decide whether to amend the judicial appointment process to model the federal system. Under this proposal, the governor would nominate candidates to fill judicial vacancies and the Oklahoma Senate would confirm or deny the governor’s appointment. The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) would rate the governor’s judicial nominees as either “qualified” or “not qualified.”

• SJR 44 (Sykes) would allow voters to decide whether to amend the Constitution to modify the judicial nominating process. Under this proposal, the JNC would provide the governor with five qualified nominees to fill a judicial vacancy, instead of the current recommendation of three nominees. The governor would be allowed to reject those nominees and request five new nominees. The governor would then select one nominee, whose name would be forwarded to the Oklahoma Senate for confirmation.

• SB 213 (Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow) would change the boundaries of Oklahoma Supreme Court judicial districts to correspond with the number of congressional districts in Oklahoma plus adding at-large positions.

Senate approves county option for Sunday liquor store sales

A measure that would give counties the option to decide whether to allow Sunday liquor store sales has won full Senate approval. Sen. Stephanie Bice began working two years ago to help Oklahomans modernize state liquor laws, with voters overwhelmingly supporting State Question 792 last November. Senate Bill 211 represents another step in that effort, and will address an important parity issue.

The county vote could come about one of two ways—either the county commissioners could call for a special election or 15 percent of registered voters in a county could sign a petition asking for a vote. Bice noted there are still 18 dry counties in Oklahoma, meaning they do not allow liquor by the drink. They could hold a vote on becoming wet counties as well as holding a vote to allow Sunday liquor store sales.

Senate Bill 211 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

Senate approves Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2

The Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday to change how first-time Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses are handled in Oklahoma. Sen. Kim David is the author of Senate Bill 643, also known as the Impaired Driver Elimination Act 2 (IDEA2), which is strongly supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The legislation would create the Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP) within the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Only first-time DUI offenders would be eligible to enter the program. Participants could have their license revocation reduced from one year to six months. If they successfully complete the program, their driving record will reflect that as well as no revocation, which will prevent higher insurance rates and will make seeking employment easier. Participants will also not be charged any reinstatement fees.

Those wishing to enter IDAP would have ten days from the date of their arrest to submit their application form. They would also have to have an ADSAC or DUI assessment reflecting a treatment category of I or II within 45 days as well as provide proof of installation of an interlock device. Participants would also be required to not receive any verified ignition violations during their last 60 days in the program.

Anyone who refuses to go into the program will be required to have a modified license and an interlock device on their vehicle for one year (rather than the current 180 days) before they can reinstate their license. The revocation will go on their record.

SB 643 makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to operate a non-interlock vehicle for a drunk driver who is in the IDAP program or has an interlock restricted license. It would also make refusing a breath test following a suspected drunk driving arrest a misdemeanor punishable with up to ten days in jail or a $1,000 fine.

The bill, which was requested by the Governor’s Impaired Driving Prevention Advisory Council, now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Oklahoma Senate Approves Education Bills

Teacher pay, teacher recruitment, reducing administrative costs among measures

The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved several education related bills, including measures that address teacher pay, teacher recruitment, and the reduction of administrative costs, among other issues.

The measures approved by the Senate on Wednesday are among the education issues included in the Senate Republicans’ 2017 legislative agenda.

Sen. Gary Stanislawski, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, authored Senate Bill 618, which modifies the minimum salary schedule and increases pay for classroom teachers.

Among the other education measures approved by the Senate were:
• SB 514 (Stanislawski) requires the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to study shared administrative services of school districts in the state in the hopes of reducing administrative costs.

• SB 15 (Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Piedmont) directs the OSDE and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to implement a targeted recruiting program for teachers.

• SB 70 (Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville) directs the State Auditor and Inspector to conduct a performance audit on the OSDE.

• SB 72 (Daniels) directs the State Auditor and Inspector to conduct a performance audit of the Department of Career and Technology.

• SB 84 (Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair) extends the probationary promotion program for students under the Reading Sufficiency Act.

• SB 243 (Stanislawski) requires a monthly financial report to be prepared by the local school's treasurer and sent to the local school board.
• SB 244 (Stanislawski) requires virtual charter schools to track attendance.

• SB 389 (Stanislawski) requires the State Board of Education to review and send a report to legislative leadership on pupil grade level weights every five years.
• SB 515 (Stanislawski) modifies the point system in determining a school's grade on the state A-F report card system.

• SB 261 (Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona) creates a task force to study and make recommendations on reforms to the State Aid formula, including but not be limited to the grade level weights, the student category weights and the transportation factor of the State Aid formula.

• SB 393 (Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate) allows teachers to objectively review the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

• SB 428 (Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud) allows retired teachers to be re-employed by schools.

• SB 529 (Smalley) increases accountability to combat fraud in the Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) to ensure funds are available for students in the program.

• SB 445 (Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow) increases flexibility within existing tax credits related to the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act to better serve low-income and high-needs students.

• SB 450 (Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro) instructs schools to treat religious viewpoints expressed by a student with the same respect it would treat a secular viewpoint.

• SB 632 (Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee) creates the Education Compact for Students in State Care Act, which established a board to facilitate the transfer of children in state care to a school.

• Senate Joint Resolution 9 (Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow) increases civics education by requiring OSDE to incorporate a citizenship test into the standards for grades 9-12.

Gov. Fallin Appoints Former Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez as Secretary of State

Governor Mary Fallin today announced that former Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez is re-joining her Cabinet to fill the vacant position of secretary of state.

Lopez will begin his new duties Monday, March 27. His appointment still must be confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

Lopez succeeds Mike Hunter, whom the governor appointed last month as attorney general.

As secretary of state, Lopez will serve as a senior adviser to the governor on policy, economic and legislative issues. He served as the governor’s secretary of commerce from 2011 until 2013.

Lopez is a longtime civic and community leader and currently serves as an independent consultant.

From 2013 to 2014, he served as interim superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools while the school board launched and concluded a national search for a permanent superintendent.

Lopez previously served as president of Oklahoma City-based American Fidelity Foundation, a charitable foundation that gives grants for economic development, education, human services and the arts. Before joining American Fidelity Foundation, Lopez served as president of Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc.

Prior to that, he had a 22-year career with SBC Communications (now AT&T), including serving as president of SBC Oklahoma and as president of SBC Texas.

Lopez serves on numerous boards, including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Banc First Corp., Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, University of Oklahoma College of Education Board of Advisers, University of Central Oklahoma Foundation and Wes Welker Foundation.

He has received many honors and awards including induction into the Oklahoma City University Commerce & Industry Hall of Honor, the Corporate Advocate Award from the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Humanitarian of the Year award from the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Lopez earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University.  He and his wife, Lana, live in Oklahoma City and have five children and eight grandchildren.

Gov. Fallin Praises Senate for Passage of Criminal Justice Measures

Governor Mary Fallin today praised the Oklahoma Senate for its approval of eight bills addressing improvements in the criminal justice system. The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force, which was convened by the governor last year, recommended these reforms after studying the data and facts of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, and the governor asked lawmakers to consider them in her State of the State.

“These historic votes will improve public safety in Oklahoma, and save our state $1.9 billion,” said Fallin. “Making smart, data-driven decisions on how to increase safety while decreasing our overcapacity prisons is key to pursuing smaller, more efficient, and more moral government. My thanks to Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat and Senator Wayne Shaw for sponsoring this landmark legislation, and for taking a huge step towards a better criminal justice system and a safer Oklahoma.”

The Senate passed:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 603, which would require the development of individualized plans for inmates to help them better reintegrate into society.
  • SB 604, which would provide training for law enforcement officers on how to better deal with victims of domestic violence.
  • SB 609, which would establish the framework for a training and certification process for professional victim advocates.
  • SB 649, which would distinguish between those who have a history of committing violent crimes from persons with a history of committing nonviolent offenses in determining how much their sentences should be enhanced for being repeat offenders
  • SB 650, which would reform qualifications for certain expungement categories.
  • SB 689, which would allow judges and prosecutors more options in diverting people from prison to treatment and supervision programs. It also would decrease financial barriers for convicted individuals seeking to re-enter society, would expand the use of graduated sanctions and incentives that could be used in response to inmate behavior and would expand eligibility for certain programs that are alternatives to incarceration.
  • SB 786, which would create an additional burglary tier to distinguish by severity.
  • SB 793, which would set up an oversight council to monitor the effectiveness of criminal justice reform efforts.

The bills now head to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.

The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force included those in law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, members of the business community, victim advocates, mental health and addiction professionals, and legislators.

Oklahoma has the second-highest imprisonment rate in the country. It has the highest rate for women – a ranking the state has held since 1991. Moreover, Oklahoma’s prison population is projected to grow 25 percent in the next 10 years at a cost of $1.2 billion in capital expenditures and an additional $700 million in operating costs over 10 years. Proposed legislation will save more than 7,800 beds, averting the immediate need for new prisons and much of these additional expenses.

Week 6 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

 

Bill increasing court safety passes House

Legislation allowing permitted county officials to carry firearms inside a courthouse passed Monday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 85 to 11.

House Bill 1104 would allow elected officials with a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self Defense Act to carry a firearm within the courthouses of the county in which he or she was elected. The official must be acting in the performance of their official duties and would not be allowed to carry into a courtroom.

House Bill 1104 is endorsed by the National Rifle Association. It now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, is the author.

 

House Legislation Strengthens Firefighter Pensions

Legislation that strengthens the pension system for Oklahoma firefighters has passed the House with a vote of 93 to 0.

House Bill 1705 addresses the interest distribution for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The changes in conjunction with this year’s proposed administrative rules changes are projected to produce $1 billion dollars in savings over the next 30 years.

The purpose of the DROP is to provide a good way for municipalities to keep their most experienced firefighters in their workforce. Some of Texas’ fastest growing cities, like Dallas, Houston and Austin, are having major problems with their pension plan because, among other reasons, the DROP benefit provisions have become unsustainable.

According to the most recent actuarial report, the firefighter pension system has a funded ratio of 65.9 percent, with an unfunded liability of nearly $1.2 billion.

Praise for the legislation was shared by the director of the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

The legislation must now pass through the Oklahoma Senate before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 

Bill Restoring Daily Pledge of Allegiance Passes House

A bill requiring public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives by a vote of 93-1 on Monday.

House Bill 2277 by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell would require students in all public schools to recite the pledge to the flag of the United States of America once every school day rather than once a week as now required by law. The state statute, in accordance with federal law, authorizes an exemption for students “who do not wish to participate” in the pledge.

State law also requires history and etiquette relating to the United States flag be taught in one or more grades in every school district in Oklahoma.

Members of the House Common Education Committee earlier unanimously approved the bill. The measure now moves to the state Senate for approval.

 

Bill potentially lessening DOC population clears House

A bill authorizing certain inmates to request a medical review in front of the Pardon and Parole Board passed Tuesday out of the House of Representatives with a vote of 73 to 16.

House Bill 1338 by state Rep. Greg Babinec permits an inmate who is 50 years of age or older and is medically frail to be considered for medical parole review. The inmate must be serving time for a nonviolent offense.

Elderly inmates are often some of the most expensive to care for because of the medical conditions that come with increased age. For inmates between the ages of 50 and 69, the Department of Corrections spends an average of $1,353 per inmate every six months. This number climbs to a biannual cost of $7,879 per inmate who is above the age of 80.

The decision on early release will remain up to Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board.

DOC Director Joe Allbaugh praised the passage of the legislation, saying it was a step in the right direction for fixing the ailing prison system.

House Bill 1338 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where Sen. Tom Duggar, R-Stillwater, is the author.

Babinec represents House District 33, which includes portions of Logan and Payne counties.

 

Caldwell Streamlines State Bond Office

 Legislation that looks to provide efficiency to the Oklahoma State Bond Advisor’s Office and transparency in the bond underwriting process has passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 84 to 0.

House Bill 1583, authored by Rep. Chad Caldwell, would consolidate the Oklahoma State Bond Advisor Office so that it would fall under the purview of the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office. The legislation would also require financial agents, banks, and underwriters to disclose financial contributions to individuals or organizations that may play a role in the bond issuance process.

 

Oklahoma Senate Approves Resolution Imposing Punishment on Senator Ralph Shortey

The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution imposing punishment upon Senator Ralph Shortey pursuant to provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution.
 



Oklahoma Senate advances bipartisan veterans bills

The Oklahoma Senate on Monday overwhelming approved a series of bipartisan bills dealing with veterans’ issues, including a measure that protects the contractual and financial rights of service members that are mobilized or deployed.

Senate Bill 227 by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, offers increased protection of service members’ contractual and financial rights by allowing them to cancel certain contracts, like telecommunications contracts and health club memberships, when they are deployed are mobilized.

Among the other measures were:

SB 233 by Sen. Simpson which specifies that hourly employees shall not miss out on the first 240 hours of their pay when called to active service.

SB 456 by Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa, which aims to help curtail fraud in a program that offers a sales tax exemption to 100-percent disabled veterans and their spouses by documenting those who are eligible for the program.

SB 642 by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, which designates a section of Interstate 44, from SW 119th Street to SW 149th Street, as the LCPL Trevor A. Roberts Memorial Highway, an Oklahoma City Marine who was killed while deployed to Iraq in 2007.

SB 42 by Sen. Simpson which updates references to the federal “The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003" in state law.

SB 76 by Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, which designates a bridge near Fort Sill as the CPL Wilfred Flores Jr. Memorial Bridge to honor Flores, who was killed while deployed to Iraq in 2007.

SB 76 by Sen. Bass, which creates the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action license plate.

 

Bill repealing state income tax cut trigger clears Senate

The full Senate has given approval to a measure that would repeal an economic trigger that would lower the state’s top income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.85 percent.  Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, is the author of Senate Bill 170 which was approved by a wide margin in the Senate on Monday.

Thompson, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance, said when the Legislature began cutting income taxes several years ago under then-Governor Brad Henry, the state had a surplus of funds.  But after facing revenue shortfalls of $600 million two sessions ago, $1.3 billion last session, and $878 million this year, Thompson said ending the trigger is the right thing to do.

SB 170 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

 

 

Full Senate approves measure creating registry for disabled vets

A bill aimed at reducing the number of individuals fraudulently claiming to be disabled veteran has cleared the full Senate.  Sen. Joe Newhouse is principal author of Senate Bill 456, which directs the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to create and administer a registry of 100 percent service-disabled veterans. The agency would also be charged with verifying all information provided through the registry.

Among the benefits offered to veterans in Oklahoma is a sales tax exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans and their spouses and widows.  Newhouse said the number of individuals taking advantage of the program is far greater than the actual number of 100 percent disabled veterans in the state.

Senate Bill 456 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

 

Gov. Fallin Appoints Former Governor Frank Keating to OU Board of Regents

Governor Mary Fallin today announced the appointment of former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating to the University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents. Keating will succeed A. Max Weitzenhoffer and will serve a seven–year term, pending confirmation from the Oklahoma Senate.

Keating is a senior partner in the international law firm of Holland & Knight. He served two terms as governor, from 1995 until 2003; after that, he served seven years as the president and chief executive officer of the American Council of Life Insurers and then five years as president and CEO of the American Bankers Association (ABA).

“Frank Keating has a long and distinguished service with the state and federal governments,” said Fallin. “I’m so pleased he has agreed to again serve the state of Oklahoma in this important capacity.  Governor Keating is known as an effective governor, and a strong and compassionate leader.

“In Washington, Frank guided the banking industry through a very difficult public policy environment.  He was the right person at the right time to help lead ABA and to help the banking industry, which was in need of a credible, well-regarded leader after the 2009 recession and bank failures. Frank is the right person at the right time now to help lead OU, and to increase educational attainment and make it easier for students to graduate in a timely manner.”

Born in St. Louis, Keating grew up in Tulsa. He received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from OU. His 30-year career in law enforcement and public service included stints as an FBI agent, U.S. attorney and state prosecutor. He also served in the Oklahoma House and Senate.

He served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the treasury, justice and housing departments.  In 1993, Keating returned to Oklahoma to run for governor. He won a three-way race by a landslide and was easily re-elected in 1998.

As governor, Keating won national acclaim in 1995 for his compassionate and professional handling of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City. In the aftermath of the attack, Keating raised more than $6 million to fund scholarships for the nearly 200 children left with only one or no parents. His accomplishments as governor include winning a successful public vote on right-to-work, tort reform, tax cuts, and major road building and education reform.

He is also the author of four award-winning children’s books - biographies of Will Rogers, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Standing Bear, the Ponca tribal chief who argued Native Americans deserve the same rights as white Americans. And a fifth, a biography of Abraham Lincoln, was recently released in January.

Keating and his wife, Cathy, live in Oklahoma City. They have three children and 10 grandchildren.

Week 5 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

Blue Lives Matter Bill Passes House

A bill that would increase the likelihood of the death penalty for people convicted of killing a law enforcement officer in the line of duty passed the House with a vote of 73-21 Wednesday.

House Bill 1306, by State Rep. Casey Murdock, creates the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017, which provides that any person convicted of, or who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to murder in the first degree of a law enforcement officer, correctional officer or corrections employee while in the performance of their duties shall be punished by death or life in prison without parole.

Murdock said he was inspired to write this legislation after the tragic events that occurred in Dallas and around the country, where snipers were shooting at law enforcement. He also told a personal story of a friend whose son-in-law was shot and attacked in the line of duty.

Murdock worked with several other representatives to make sure the bill was constitutional yet still firm when it comes to dealing with criminals. The bill makes it harder to just get a life in prison sentence. Punishment would be either death or life without parole. The bill also requires that an overwhelming amount of mitigating evidence be shown for those convicted to just be given a life sentence.

The bill now moves to the state Senate.

Education Leaders Endorse $110 Million Education Funding Boost from Budget Leader’s Bill

The House of Representatives has passed a bill endorsed by education leaders that increases the Oklahoma Lottery’s contribution to education by $110 million over the next five years.

 

House Bill 1837, by House Appropriations Chairwoman Leslie Osborn and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Kim David, passed the House on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate.

 

The bill was endorsed Monday by the Oklahoma Education Coalition, which consists of:

·         Oklahoma City Public Schools

·         Tulsa Public Schools

·         United Suburban Schools Association

·         Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools

·         Oklahoma State School Boards Association

·         Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration

·         Oklahoma Education Association

·         Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association

·         Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education

·         Oklahoma Parents and Teachers Association

HB 1837 is modeled after successful lottery changes in other states. It sends more lottery revenue to education by letting the lottery increase payouts to offer more prizes that improve lottery sales and ultimately send more money to public schools.

 

The Oklahoma Lottery has sent more than $750 million to education since it began in 2005, but its performance has declined because of an ineffective profit requirement that would be replaced under HB 1837. Lottery contributions to education next year are expected to be 30 percent lower than ten years ago. If HB 1837 is not passed, the Oklahoma Lottery projects declines will continue and education will lose a combined $25 million in lottery funding over the next five years. 

 

To prevent that decline, HB 1837 makes the lottery more profitable and increases common education’s lottery funding through three steps:

 

1.      Guarantee at least $50 million in lottery revenue for education every year.

2.      Send profits above $50 million to specific K-12 public school initiatives.

3.      Improve sales and lottery revenue to education by ending the counterproductive mandate that 35 percent of profits go to education.

 

Under HB 1837, initiatives in reading and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) would receive $85 million over the next five years.

 

In total, HB 1837 sends a $110 million boost to education by preventing the $25 million decline that is expected without the bill and sending the projected $85 million to reading and STEM programs.

 

House Advances Teacher Pay Raise Plan

Plan would boost Oklahoma teacher pay to first in the region

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives today overwhelmingly advanced a plan to the Senate that would phase in a $6,000 teacher pay raise over three years and boost Oklahoma teachers to some of the highest paid in the region.

 

House Bill 1114, by state Rep. Michael Rogers, chair of the House Common Education Committee, would include a $1,000 pay raise for teachers during the 2017-18 school year, another $2,000 raise during the 2018-19 school year and a final $3,000 raise during the 2019-20 school year.

 

Rogers said the phased-in approach would allow the Legislature to manage the current revenue downturn while keeping its promise to boost pay for teachers. Every $1,000 increase in teacher pay would cost approximately $53 million, said Rogers. 

 

Oklahoma already has the third-highest statutory starting minimum teacher pay in the region. Rogers’ plan would raise Oklahoma teacher pay from 48th in the nation to 27th based on recent data from the National Education Association (NEA). When paired with the state’s low cost of living, the plan would move Oklahoma to 13th in the nation for average annual teacher pay at $56,804 (adjusted for cost of living). Oklahoma’s cost of living ranks behind only Mississippi for the lowest in the nation.   

 

House Speaker Charles A. McCall supports Rep. Rogers’ plan.

 

House Bill 1114 passed out of the House by a vote of 92-7 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

 

Victim Notification Bill Passes House

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that looks to give victims clear and proper notification regarding the release of an offender has unanimously passed the House with a vote of 87 to 0.

House Bill 1680, authored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright, would require the department of corrections to notify victims through the Victim Information and Notification Everyday service within 60 days and no less than seven days prior to an offender leaving state custody.                                                   

The proposed law change would also reorganize the notification system so that the responsibility of notifying victims would fall on the department of corrections. The legislation also requests assistance from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in giving notification of the pending release of its opinions where the outcome may affect a victim or a victim’s family. 

Bill easing access to eye drop medication refill clears House

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill amending refill procedures for certain medications passed unanimously Tuesday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 92 to 0.

House Bill 1819 by state Rep. Carl Newton, an optometrist, prohibits an insurance company from denying refill requests for eye drops after using 70 percent of the prescription.

The legislation also prohibits a health benefit plan that covers prescription eye drops from denying coverage for a refill prescription when the prescription indicates that more is needed, the refill does not exceed the additional amount needed, and the prescription is covered.

HB1819 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where state Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, is the author.

Newton represents House District 58, which includes parts of Alfalfa, Major, Woods, Woodward counties.

Bill scaling back corporal punishment for students with disabilities passes House

Legislation prohibiting school district personnel from using corporal punishment on certain students passed unanimously Monday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 89 to 0.

House Bill 1623, or the “Bryan Young Act,” protects students with disabilities from corporal punishment unless addressed in an annual Individualized Education Program (IEP). Young was a Norman-based attorney who regularly advocated for students with IEPs.

In districts where corporal punishment is currently allowed, most require parents sign a handbook at the beginning of each year permitting school personnel to use corporal punishment when necessary. This legislation exempts students with physical disabilities from being corporally punished unless it is allowed in the student’s IEP.

HB 1623 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, is the author.

Cleveland represents House District 20, which includes parts of Cleveland, Garvin, McClain and Pottawatomie counties.

House Judiciary- Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee Approves 5

 The fourth hearing for the 56th Legislature’s House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee took place Wednesday.

This past meeting marked the last time the committee, chaired by Rep. Scott Biggs, will be able to consider new legislation authored by members of the House. During the meeting, five new pieces of legislation were passed and are now eligible to be heard on the House Floor.

House Bill 1127, authored by Rep. Biggs, is legislation that would require the court to instruct the jury on the definition of “consent” in any criminal jury trial that involves “sexual assault”. The bill passed committee by a vote of 9 to 0.

House Bill 1324, authored by Rep. Justin Humphrey, is legislation that would remove the ability of the court to order a presentence investigation be conducted on any convicted felony offender prior to the court imposing a term of incarceration. The measure increases the maximum fee amount that the court may order the defendant to pay for a presentence investigation from a maximum of $250 to a maximum of $500. The bill passed committee by a vote of 10 to 1.

House Bill 1472, authored by Rep. Travis Dunlap, is legislation that would create the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. The measure requires a service provider, upon request of the consumer, to filter content to prevent the transmission of obscene material to the consumer. The bill passed committee by a vote of 11 to 0.

House Bill 2281, authored by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, is legislation that contains the Governor’s Justice Reform Task Force recommendations relating to unlawful delivery of goods, false impersonation, credit or debit card crimes, forged instruments or coins, larceny of lost property, theft of aircraft, automobile or construction equipment and theft of a controlled dangerous substance.. The bill passed committee by a vote of 11 to 0.

House Bill 2290 is legislation that contains the recommendations of the Governor’s Justice Reform Task Force regarding the use of drug and mental health courts. The bill passed committee by a vote of 9 to 2.

Of the several bills that were assigned to committee, 26 bills received hearings and were approved to be heard on the House Floor. The committee worked to accommodate all bill filers, but some issues could not be worked out in time for all bills to be heard. However, the majority of bills not heard were removed from the committee by the bill author.

Governor Mary Fallin Declares State of Emergency for 22 Counties Due to Wildfires, Critical Fire Conditions

Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order to declare a state of emergency for 22 counties due to ongoing wildfires and critical fire weather conditions.

The counties included in the governor’s declaration are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Blaine, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Kingfisher, Logan, Major, Noble, Osage, Payne, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Texas, Woods and Woodward.

Estimates show between 200,000 and 300,000 acres have already burned in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties alone, where dangerous fire conditions are expected to continue tonight and tomorrow.

Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. It is also the first step toward seeking federal aid should it be necessary.

The executive order is in effect for 30 days and could be amended to include additional counties if conditions warrant.

Governor Mary Fallin Signs Measure Approving New Report on Assessments, Accountability System for Public Schools

 Governor Mary Fallin today signed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1028 to approve the assessment and accountability report recommendations required by legislation (House Bill 3218) passed and signed into law last year.  The key components of the report include recommendations for new assessments for Grades 3-8 and for high school students as required by the federal government, as well as a study of an enhanced accountability system.  In addition, the report contained recommendations on graduation requirements, and remediation and interventions.

Governor Mary Fallin Approves Shawnee Tribe’s Proposal to Build Casino near Guymon

Citing a remedy to help with economic development and self-determination, Governor Mary Fallin today announced she has concurred with the findings of a federal agency giving permission to the Shawnee Tribe to build a casino near Guymon. 

In 2000, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe succeeded in winning congressional approval of a measure called the Shawnee Act, which restored the tribe's federal recognition and gave the tribe the right to secure land essential to its economic well-being as long as that land is outside the assigned lands of other Oklahoma tribes.

The history of Shawnee migration in response to western expansion can be traced to the 1700s. Relocating to eastern Kansas on a 1.6 million-acre reservation in the early 1860s, the tribe’s land holdings were reduced over the years by the federal government.*

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs earlier determined putting the land into trust would be positive for the Shawnee Tribe and the Panhandle community. The governor’s review and decision was the next step in the two-part determination process.

The proposed Golden Mesa Casino to be built southwest of Guymon would create about 175 jobs and produce an annual payroll of about $3.7 million, according to Shawnee tribal officials. The proposed casino is seen as an entertainment and destination point.

The Shawnee Tribe is a landless tribe.  Having a unique history, the Shawnee Tribe was assigned no jurisdictional land of its own and operates within the territory of another tribal government. Because of this unique history, Congress enacted the Shawnee Status Act in 2000, which enabled the tribe to begin a process of growth and recovery.

In the past, the federal government has generally required tribes to build casinos on their own reservations or — in states like Oklahoma where tribes don't have reservations — within their tribal jurisdictional areas.

Plans call for building a $25 million casino called the Golden Mesa Casino that would include a restaurant on 107 acres about 4 miles southwest of Guymon. The tribe is expected to partner with Global Gaming Solutions, the gaming division of the Chickasaw Nation, with Global Gaming serving as the management company for the project, which has a projected economic impact of $32 million.

Upon approval of the tribe’s fee to trust application, the tribe will initiate the process for adopting Oklahoma’s model tribal-state Class III gaming compact, which will ultimately provide increased funding for education. 

Governor Mary Fallin Appoints Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as Secretary of Science and Technology

Governor Mary Fallin on Thursday announced that Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma (OU), will be joining her Cabinet as secretary of science and technology. Droegemeier will begin serving on Monday.

Droegemeier is a Regents’ professor of meteorology, Weathernews chair emeritus, and Teigen presidential professor at OU. He currently serves on Fallin’s Science and Technology Council, chairing the academic research and development subcommittee.

Fallin said Droegemeier’s extensive background in science and technology, as well as in government, as a key reason for his selection.

Droegemeier co-founded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center (STC) for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), which is today recognized around the world as the pioneer of storm-scale numerical weather prediction. He also co-founded the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), and served on the National Science Board under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and, under then-Governor Brad Henry, he chaired the Weather and Climate Team for the EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) Program.

Droegemeier earned a B.S. with special distinction in meteorology from OU, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined OU in 1985 as an assistant professor of meteorology. He and his wife, Lisa, reside in Norman.

Week 4 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

Rep. Sean Roberts Praises Passage of Second Amendment Protection Bill

State Rep. Sean Roberts praised the passage of House Bill 1803, which prohibits the expenditure of public monies to oppose rights protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The bill passed out of the House Public Safety Committee by a vote of 7-6.

The bill is now eligible to be considered by the full House.

 

Bill to Shield Public from Pornography Passes Committee

A bill that would shield digital pornography from the general public passed the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee today with a unanimous vote.

House Bill 1472 by state Rep. Travis Dunlap would require digital service providers to filter content to prevent the transmission of obscene material to consumers.

Dunlap thanked members of the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee for supporting the passage of the bill, which passed 11-0.

 

Savings from State Agency IT Collaboration hits $129 Million Mark

Oklahoma state agencies are realizing an ever increasing amount of savings from Oklahoma government's ongoing information technology unification reform.

On Wednesday, Oklahoma Chief Information Officer Bo Reese told the House Government Modernization Committee that the reform has saved $129 million – a significant increase over the $115 million Reese testified to last fall during a House Appropriations & Budget Committee study.

Reese attributed much of the most recent savings to the recent involvement of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the unification effort.

In recent months DHS has consolidated their 8,200 square feet of data center space and 55 separate IT systems into just 100 square feet of data center space at the state's shared data center. The old DHS data center space is now available to use for office space allowing the department to give up leased office space.

Reese told committee members that the multi-year IT unification plan is nearing completion and is expected to reach completion by the end of the current fiscal year. 

 

Democratic lawmakers join #fightingforfamilies week as part of nationwide push

State Rep. Jason Dunnington held a press conference Wednesday advocating for Oklahoma’s low- and middle-income families.

Dunnington was joined by other Democratic representatives as part of a nationwide movement fighting for bills that would raise incomes, support creation of good jobs and level the playing field for working families.

Dunnington, along with Reps. Collin Walke, Forrest Bennett, Shane Stone and Claudia Griffith, highlighted bills they filed that would’ve allowed for paid sick time, tax exemptions for diapers and formula, and increased funding for community health care centers. None of the bills has received a floor hearing, but Dunnington and his colleagues said it was important to remind the public of the ongoing fight for families.

The Democratic representatives intend to continue advocating for the working and middle class during the next legislative session when their bills can be heard again.

The press conference was part of the multi-state #fightingforfamilies movement by State Innovation Exchange Action. The independent nonprofit is committed to achieving progressive change at the state level, while defending against efforts to move our country backward.

 

House approves bill to increase Oklahomans’ access to health care

Two weeks after dozens of nurse practitioners visited the state Capitol to speak with lawmakers, the House of Representatives passed a measure aimed at improving access to health care services across Oklahoma.

 

House Bill 1013, by Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, and Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, would eliminate the outdated and unnecessary requirement that nurse practitioners sign a collaborative agreement with a physician. The measure passed the House on Wednesday by a 72-20 vote.

  

According to the most recent Oklahoma Health Workforce Databook compiled by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 64 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are designated as primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). More than 58 percent of Oklahomans live in a primary care HPSA. The state ranks 49th in physician-patient ratio.

 

Wednesday’s vote in the House follows AONP’s Legislative Day at the Capitol, which was held Tuesday, Feb. 14. That event saw dozens of nurse practitioners and nursing students visit the Capitol to speak with lawmakers about the issue.

 

Cynthia Sanford, a nurse practitioner who owns a pediatric clinic in McAlester, attended the event.

  

In addition, some nurse practitioners must also pay thousands of dollars a month for so-called collaborative agreements with physicians, even though the physician may not see a nurse practitioner’s patients or review their charts.

 

Nurse practitioners working in 22 states and the District of Columbia, and in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country, all have full practice authority.

  

HB1013 now moves on to consideration by the Senate.

 

Oklahoma Senate passes REAL ID bill; measure heads to governor for signature

The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday approved a measure to bring Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID law. The measure, House Bill 1845, is co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall.

The legislation ensures Oklahomans who choose to get the REAL ID compliant driver license or ID will be able to use that identification to fly or to enter federal facilities while also giving citizens the option of choosing a non-compliant driver license or ID. HB 1845 now goes to Gov. Fallin for her signature.

 

Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 passes out of Senate Committee

The Senate Public Safety Committee gave the green light to the Impaired Driver Elimination Act 2 (IDEA2) Thursday. Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, is the author of Senate Bill 643, which will create the Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP) within the Department of Public Safety for first time DUI offenders while their license is revoked.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Oklahoma ranked 51st worst for impaired driving fatality rates from 2000 – 2010. However, Oklahoma has seen a 34 percent decrease in alcohol-impaired crashes. 

Participants in the IDAP program or who seek driving privileges during a license suspension must pay $50 for an interlock restricted license. Upon completion of the program, there will be no revocation on their license and they will not be charged any reinstatement fees. 

The measure makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to operate a non-interlock vehicle for a drunk driver who is in the IDAP program or has an interlock restricted license. 

Those who refuse to go into the program will have to have a modified license and an interlock device on their vehicle for one year (rather than the current 180 days) before they can reinstate their license. The revocation will go on their record. 

SB 643 was recommended by the Governor’s Impaired Driving Prevention Advisory Council. It is strongly supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

 

Gov. Fallin Signs REAL ID Compliance Bill

Governor Mary Fallin today, joined by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and House Speaker Charles McCall, signed House Bill (HB) 1845, the REAL ID compliance bill. The new law will allow persons to obtain a compliant REAL ID driver's license or identification card.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate gave overwhelming support to HB 1845. It passed the House 78-18 and won 35-11 approval in the Senate.

HB 1845 was a priority measure for the governor, who urged lawmakers during her State of the State address this year to pass a measure that makes Oklahoma compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. HB 1845 is the first measure of this year’s legislative session to be signed into law by the governor.

 

Gov. Fallin Statement on Final Legislative Passage of Measure Dealing with REAL ID Act

Governor Mary Fallin today issued this statement after the Oklahoma Senate voted 35-11 to give final legislative passage to House Bill 1845, which would allow persons to obtain a compliant REAL ID driver's license or identification card:

“I’m pleased to see the Legislature work so quickly on this important issue. We cannot burden Oklahomans with the additional cost and hassle of providing identification to gain entrance to federal buildings, military bases or federal courthouses. And most certainly we can’t let them down by forcing them to have additional identification in order to board a commercial airliner in January. I look forward to receiving this bill on my desk.”

 

Gov. Fallin Congratulates Oklahoma Natives for "La La Land" Success

Governor Mary Fallin today congratulated Oklahoma natives Trent and Thad Luckinbill for their work on the film, “La La Land,” which received six Oscars during Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Trent and Thad Luckinbill, Enid natives and brothers, helped finance and produce “La La Land” through their company, Black Label Media, which they formed with producer Molly Smith in 2013. In only a few short years, the company has financed and produced a number of hit films including “Demolition,” “71,” “The Good Lie,” “Begin Again” and “Sicario”, which was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2015. The Oklahoma Film + Music Office is working with the duo in hopes of attracting one of their future productions to Oklahoma.

The Luckinbills have come a long way since graduating from the University of Oklahoma. Trent, who earned a law degree, has an extensive legal and financial background with the Department of Treasury’s Office of Financial Stability and the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Shortly after earning a business degree, Thad moved to California where he began working as both an actor and producer, widely known for his role as J.T. Hellstrom on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” Their recent success with “La La Land” has transformed into box office gold as the film has dominated the box office, raking in more than $343 million since its release.

“La La Land” won six Oscars; for lead actress, best director, cinematography, production design, original score and original song. With a total of 14 Oscar nominations, the film tied “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most nominations for a single film in motion picture history.

Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”), “La La Land” is a modern-day musical with a classic flair that tells the story of a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling - “Drive,” “The Notebook”) who falls for an aspiring actress (Emma Stone - “The Help,” “Birdman”) in Los Angeles.

Week 3 - 2017 Legislative Session Update

Property Reduction Program Provides Benefit to Department of Corrections

According to testimony provided to the Government Modernization Committee today, more than 3.1 million dollars has now been generated through a program of inventorying and selling underutilized state government properties.

Oklahoma's Capital Assets Administrator Dan Ross told committee members that much of the proceeds from the sales have been used to repair and maintain the roofs of three Department of Corrections facilities including the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester.

The program is part of state government's ongoing government modernization effort to identify and return the underutilized properties to the private sector.

Ross told committee members that taxpayers are experiencing added savings from not having to maintain the underutilized properties.

In all, as part of the state asset reduction program, more than 362,000 square feet of owned and leased space have been removed from state custody.

Additional benefit occurs as upon transfer to the private sector the liquidated properties become tax producers and benefit local school districts whereas prior to transfer they were tax exempt.

The real property hearing is one of a series by the House Government Modernization Committee as they seek to provide oversight to the various ongoing state government modernization and efficiency initiatives. 

 

Opposition to Fallin’s Tax Hike Grows in Legislature

Opposition continues to grow in the State Capitol over Gov. Mary Fallin's proposed $1.7 billion sales tax expansion, with 13 legislators adding their names in opposition. 27 legislators are now publicly on the record against the Fallin sales tax hike.

In her State of the State address, Governor Fallin presented a plan that would tax 164 different categories of services provided by Oklahoma small businesses and entrepreneurs. By the governor's own estimate, this would result in a tax hike of more than $1.7 Billion.

Citing their fundamental disagreements with Gov. Fallin's proposed tax hike, the following conservative legislators pledged to do what they can to stop this tax increase from becoming law:

State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw)

State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow)

State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City)

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville)

State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee)

State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow)

State Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Edmond)

State Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow)

State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks)

NEW: State Rep. Rande Worthen (R-Lawton)

NEW: State Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant)

NEW: State Rep. Scott McEachin (R-Tulsa)

NEW: State Rep. John Enns (R-Enid)

NEW: State Rep. Dale Derby (R- Owasso)

NEW: State Rep. Casey Murdock (R-Felt)

NEW: State Rep. Scooter Park (R-Devol)

NEW: State Rep. Jeff Coody (R-Grandfield)

State Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro)

State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow)

State Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow)

State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore)

State Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore)

NEW: State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair)

NEW: State Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)

NEW: State Sen. Bill Brown (R-Broken Arrow)

NEW: State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City)

NEW: State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow)

 

Bill increasing food security passes House unanimously

A bill aimed at alleviating childhood hunger passed Tuesday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 95 to 0.

House Bill 1875 by state Reps. Eric Proctor and Jason Dunnington permits school districts to donate unused or unopened food to an on-campus nonprofit organization through an authorized representative or designee who is directly affiliated with the school as a teacher, counselor or PTA member. The food may be received, stored and redistributed at the school at any time, and school employees may assist in preparing and distributing the food as volunteers for the nonprofit organization.  

The legislation exempts from civil and criminal liability school districts and nonprofit organizations who receive a good-faith donation of food that is fit for human consumption at the time of the donation.

Proctor and Dunnington have partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa to ensure as few students as possible go home hungry and without food.

The legislation now moves to the state Senate.

 

Superintendents Ask for Passage of HB1482 to Protect Children by Restoring Drug-Free School Zones

Superintendents are starting to join with state representatives to ask for passage of House Bill 1482, which would restore protections for children and the places where they gather, such as schools, daycares and parks.  

State Rep. Scott Biggs authored and State Rep. Tim Downing co-authored HB1482 by Rep. Scott Biggs, which passed the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee with a vote of 11-1 last week and is expected to be heard on the House floor this week.

The bill preserves the portion of state law that makes it a felony to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a public or private school or public park or within the presence of a child under the age of 12. This crime could still be charged as a misdemeanor, by discretion, and the options of drug court and deferred or suspended sentences could still be utilized.  

SQ780 and the removal of drug-free school zones would become effective in July.

Downing explained that the U.S. and all 50 states have laws for drug-free school zones.

Downing said superintendents were largely unaware that SQ780 repealed drug-free school zones. He said many also did not know that the language of children and schools was deliberately kept from the voters.  

Martin said he finds this unconscionable and is asking other superintendents to examine the issue and support HB1482.

 

 

Education Gets $110 Million in Additional Lottery Money Under Budget Leaders’ Bill

Legislative budget leaders have filed a bill projected to increase the Oklahoma Lottery’s contribution to education by $110 million over the next five years.

House Bill 1837, by House Appropriations Chairwoman Leslie Osborn and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Kim David, is designed to send more lottery revenue to education by letting the lottery offer larger payouts that improve lottery sales and ultimately send more money to public schools.

“Education gets more than $100 million in new lottery money if this legislation passes. This is by no means an end-all, be-all school funding solution, but it is an achievable way to get more money to schools even in a tough budget year,” said Osborn, R-Mustang.

Osborn will present the bill today at 4:30 p.m. in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee in Room 206 at the Capitol.

Background:

The Oklahoma Lottery has sent more than $750 million to education since it began in 2005, but its performance has been declining – particularly in comparison to other state lotteries – because of an ineffective profit requirement that would be replaced under HB 1837.

Oklahoma Lottery revenue to education peaked at $71.6 million in Fiscal Year 2008, but has declined since. If HB 1837 is not passed, the Oklahoma Lottery projects those declines will continue and that education will lose a combined $25 million in lottery funding over the next five years.

To prevent that decline, HB 1837 makes the lottery more profitable and increases common education’s lottery funding through three steps:

  1. Guarantee at least $50 million in lottery revenue for education every year.
  2. Send profits above $50 million to specific K-12 public school initiatives.
  3. Improve sales and lottery revenue to education by ending the counterproductive mandate that 35 percent of profits go to education.

The Oklahoma Lottery projects specified K-12 public school initiatives would receive $85 million over the next five years if HB 1837 is enacted. The money would be used for initiatives in reading and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

HB 1837’s $110 million boost to education comes from preventing the $25 million decline that is expected without the bill and sending the projected $85 million to reading and STEM programs.

The Oklahoma Lottery, because of its profit requirement, lags behind other state lotteries in per capita sales, coming in at $44 per capita. The national lottery sales average is $216 per capita.

Many states don’t place percentage requirements on lottery revenues like Oklahoma does, which allows those lotteries to perform better and ultimately produce more funding for the governmental functions they support.  

In 2007, North Carolina removed the profit requirement for its lottery and saw lottery funding to education rise by $318.7 million, or 101 percent, over the next nine years.

The Arkansas Lottery has no profit requirement and its per capita sales were $138 in 2015, compared to $44 in Oklahoma. Pennsylvania, Texas and California have also removed lottery profit requirements and grown sales, allowing those lotteries to send more money to the governmental functions they support.

 

 

Five Bills Pass Through House Judiciary- Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee

The second hearing for the 56th Legislature’s House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee took place Wednesday.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Scott Biggs, passed five pieces of legislation that are now eligible to be heard on the House Floor.

House Bill 1482, authored by Rep. Tim Downing, Rep. Mike Sanders, Rep. Leslie Osborn and Rep. Scott Biggs, is legislation that seeks to make it a felony to possess, sell or purchase illegal drugs 1,000 feet around a day care, public or private elementary or secondary school, public vocational school, public or private college or university, or other institution of higher education, church, recreation center or public park, including state parks, fair grounds and recreation areas or in the presence of any child under twelve years of age. The bill passed committee by a vote of 11 to 1.

House Bill 2159, authored by Rep. Jadine Nollan, is legislation that would require the court clerk to notify the Oklahoma Tax Commission when a defendant fails to enter a plea or timely appear for arraignment. The Tax Commission would then cancel the current registration on any motor vehicle registered by the defendant and place a hold on any future registrations until such time as the defendant satisfies the court. The bill passed committee by a vote of 10 to 0.

House Bill 1468, authored by Rep. Carol Bush and Rep. Kevin McDugle, is legislation that extends the statute of limitations for certain crimes against children from 12 years after the crime to up until the victims 45th birthday. The bill passed committee by a vote of 10 to 0.

House Bill 1306, authored by Rep. Casey Murdock, is legislation that would require a sentence of life without parole or the death penalty for all first degree murder convictions where the victim is a police officer, corrections officer or corrections employee. The bill passed committee by a vote of 10 to 2. 

House Bill 1326, authored by Rep. Casey Murdock, is legislation that seeks to prohibit unmanned aircraft over private agricultural property. The bill passed committee by a vote of 10 to 0.

  

Talihina Veteran Center relocation bill passed by Senate Appropriations Committee

Late Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation 30-10 to pursue possible relocation of the Talihina Veterans’ Center. Navy veteran and Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, Sen. Frank Simpson is the author of the Senate Bill 544 that he filed following the questionable deaths of two center residents in the last five months. 

SB 544 directs and authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to pursue possible relocation of the facility to another location that meets the requirements of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as a State Veterans' Home.

There are many problems at the nearly 100-year-old Talihina Center which was never designed to be a long term care facility. The facility is 3-stories which limits the mobility and independence of the elderly veterans. Staffing is the biggest issue due to the center’s remote location and a limited labor pool. There are currently 30 resident care positions that cannot be filled and there have been reports of nepotism, which is in direct violation of state statute. The aging infrastructure cannot properly support a modern long term care facility with all of the needed technology and medical equipment. The center also does not have access to good water, which is a serious health issue. 

The new concept for state veterans’ homes provides small group homes with ten veterans per home, private rooms and baths, dining room and kitchen. It's like the veterans home. This concept provides veterans with the independence and dignity they deserve. It improves their quality of life and enhances both their physical and psychological wellbeing. Simpson will be meeting with the Texas Department of Veterans Affairs on March 3 to learn more about the veteran small home concept. 

 

Bill repealing second income tax cut trigger heads to full Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday in favor of a bill that would effectively stop another income tax cut from automatically going into effect based on revenue growth. Sen. Roger Thompson is the author of Senate Bill 170. He’s the chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance, where the bill easily passed its first hurdle Tuesday. 

Legislation signed into law in 2014 contained a two-part state income tax reduction. The first lowered the state’s top income tax rate from 5.25 to five percent. The rate would have been further reduced to 4.85 percent—the trigger for that reduction would be revenue growth of about $97 million, the cost of implementing the cut. Thompson’s bill kills that trigger.

Thompson said the feedback he’s received from constituents has been overwhelmingly in favor of his legislation.

 

Senate approves bill modifying oversight of online insurance verification system

The full Senate approved legislation Wednesday to transfer oversight of the Compulsory Insurance Online Verification System (OCIVS) for motor vehicle liability policies from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID). Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, is the principal Senate author of Senate Bill 115 and said the bill is an effort to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the state.

SB 115 would require the transfer of the system to take place by January 1, 2018. Although district attorneys can already access the system, the bill authorizes their access. The bill allows for license plate numbers to be used in tracking. It also affirms that the Insurance Commissioner does have the regulatory authority to deal with any insurance companies that violate the insurance verification law. Finally, it requires tag agents to accept proof of insurance from insurance agents in the event that OCIVS does not provide a clear answer, and to do so electronically at no extra cost to the person registering the vehicle. 

Under the bill, the Oklahoma Tax Commission and DPS would work with OID for the ongoing improvement and maintenance of the system. 

 

Sen. Pres. Pro Tempore Mike Schulz comments on committee approval of REAL ID bill

Sen. Pres. Pro Tempore Mike Schulz issued the following statement Wednesday after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved House Bill 1845, the REAL ID Act, co-authored by Schulz and House Speaker Charles McCall.

“With committee passage of this bill, the Senate is addressing an issue the vast majority of Oklahomans want us to quickly resolve. Besides allowing Oklahomans the convenience of continuing to use their state-issued driver licenses to fly commercially, fixing the REAL ID problem is an issue of national security. Thousands of Oklahomans work on military bases and need to maintain access so they can continue their important work supporting the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who protect our freedoms. I appreciate my colleagues for supporting this bill and look forward to its quick passage soon off the floor of the Senate.”—Senate Pres. Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus.

The legislation ensures Oklahomans who choose to get the REAL ID compliant driver license or ID will be able to use that identification to fly or to enter federal facilities while also giving citizens the option of choosing a non-compliant driver license or ID. HB 1845 now moves to the full Senate for consideration. If approved, it goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

 

Education Compact for Kids in State Care heads to full Senate

The Senate Education Committee approved the Education Compact for Kids in State Care Monday. Sen. Ron Sharp, author of Senate Bill 632, said it will remove the barriers that many young people and their families experience when it is time to transition back to their home school after placement within the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) or the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS).

“It’s important to the mental growth and emotional well-being of these kids that we do what we can to facilitate an easy transition to school. Many don’t have structured lives and supportive families like most of us had growing up,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “What we want is to assure them with all certainty that they can go back to school, they can participate in meaningful and healthy school organizations and also let them know what the requirements are to graduate.”

Sharp explained that much of the bill mirrors the Military Compact, which helps kids dealing with multiple deployments transition to different schools quickly and efficiently. The measure also meets guidelines for the Oklahoma State Foster Care Plan or ESSA. 

The measure was requested by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE), OKDHS and OJA who collaborated on the wording and agreed that it was fair and would benefit at-risk youth and their families. 

SB 632 creates an advisory committee consisting of one representative from OJA, SDE and OKDHS. Students in state care would be automatically enrolled when they arrived at school, which would allow time for districts to work with the parent, guardian or a designee from OJA or DHS while the permanent records were being requested. The students would be enrolled even if they did not have up to date vaccination records. Students and families would have 30 days to provide updated records or complete the exemption certificate as required by state law. They would also be allowed to try out for athletics or apply for education or social clubs once they arrived at school. Finally, the bill would provide consistency regarding graduation requirements by enrolling students in the core curriculum track as stated by Oklahoma statute but they would be able to take more rigorous courses or pursue the college prep track if they wanted. 

 

Gov. Fallin Statement on Resignation of Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb from Her Cabinet

Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement after Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb announced his resignation from her Cabinet, where he served as small business advocate:

 “I was disappointed and surprised to learn from a press release that Lt. Gov. Lamb had decided to quit serving as a member of my Cabinet.

 “I have always valued Todd’s independent voice. I valued it when we first came into office when we dealt with a similar financial crisis and I value his independent voice today. I’ve never been afraid to have dissenting voices at the table. I think the people of Oklahoma benefit from that. There will always be a seat at the table for his independent voice.

 “Leading a state is never easy, especially when there are so many challenges and we are faced with a prolonged economic downturn. But through ideas, hard work, long hours and making tough decisions, we can find solutions to those challenges our state faces. We have to.

 “As governor, I have provided a reality check of doing the same thing over and over with the structural deficits of our budget and expecting a different outcome. If we want to educate our children, a teacher pay raise and ensure the health and public safety of our citizens as well as improve our roads and bridges, we must fix the structure of our budget so we don’t keep having budget shortfalls and uncertainty.”

 

Gov. Fallin Calls Special Election for State House District 75 Seat

Governor Mary Fallin today ordered a special election to fill the vacancy in Oklahoma House District 75 caused by the irrevocable resignation of Rep. Dan Kirby. His resignation will become effective March 1, 2017.

The filing period for the special election is Feb. 27 and 28, and March 1. The special primary election is set for May 9 and the special general election is scheduled for July 11.

In the event a special primary election is not necessary, the special general election will be May 9.

Kirby, of Tulsa, announced his resignation earlier this month. House District 75 covers part of Tulsa County.

 

Gov. Fallin Appoints Secretary of State Mike Hunter as Attorney General

Governor Mary Fallin today appointed Secretary of State Mike Hunter to the post of state attorney general.

Hunter succeeds Scott Pruitt, who resigned after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hunter served as first assistant attorney general under Pruitt until Fallin last year named him secretary of state and special legal counsel. He starts his new duties immediately.

Hunter served as first assistant attorney general for Pruitt from June 2015 until October, serving as chief legal adviser and overseeing a staff of over 200 lawyers, law enforcement agents and support staff.

From 2010 to 2015, Hunter was the chief operating officer of the American Bankers Association (ABA), which represents banks of all sizes and charters and is the champion for the nation’s $13 trillion banking industry and its 2 million employees. Hunter managed government relations, regulatory, legal and communications activities for the ABA.

Prior to joining ABA, Hunter was secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office, a $4 billion public land and investment trust in Oklahoma. From 2002 through 2009, Hunter was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Council of Life Insurers, the advocacy, legal and research arm of the life insurance industry.

Hunter served as Oklahoma’s secretary of state under then-Gov. Frank Keating. He also served as Keating’s chief liaison to the Legislature, the state judiciary and the state’s federal delegation.

Hunter was chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. J. C. Watts Jr., of Oklahoma, from 1995 to 1999. His position involved the management of the congressman’s office in Washington, D.C., and district offices in Oklahoma. He also served as legal counsel to Watts in his work on the National Security Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

While in private practice as an energy and real estate lawyer, Hunter served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for six years. In 1988, he was one of eight lawmakers recognized by The Daily Oklahoman as “Oklahoma’s Best Legislators.”

In 1993 and 1994, Hunter served as general counsel of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state regulatory authority for public utilities, oil and gas, transportation and pipelines. He has also taught political science as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma and at the University of Oklahoma.

Hunter received his law degree from OU and his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University. He is married to Cheryl Plaxico Hunter, and they have two sons, Barrett and Brock.

Assistant Secretary of State Tod Wall will temporarily assume the duties of secretary of state until the governor names Hunter’s successor.

Trio of Victims' Rights Measures Clear House

Trio of Victims’ Rights Measures Clear House

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three bills aimed at protecting victims of crimes passed off the House floor today and now head to the Senate for consideration.

House Joint Resolution 1002, known as “Marsy’s Law” and authored by state Rep. Scott Biggs, would place a question on the November ballot to allow citizens to vote to amend the state Constitution to ensure that crime victims and their families are provided with the same level of equal, or “co-equal,” constitutional rights as those afforded and guaranteed to the accused or convicted.

Marsy’s Law has been passed in five other states and is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983

“Victims in Oklahoma have statutory rights, but those rights are trumped by the defendant’s Constitutional rights and are often ignored by some judges,” said Biggs, R-Chickasha, chair of the House Judiciary Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections. “This bill elevates the rights of victims and their families so that courts have to protect them.”

HJR 1002 passed by a vote of 90-5.

 

House Bill 1116, by state Rep. Mike Sanders, would allow statements alleging abuse, neglect or financial exploitation made by an incapacitated or vulnerable person to be admitted as evidence in a criminal or juvenile proceeding if the court found the statements to be reliable. The bill requires the adverse party to be notified of intention to offer the statements at least 10 days in advance of the proceedings.

“This bill is an effort to ensure that vulnerable and incapacitated victims can have their statements heard in court,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “Current law prevents that, effectively silencing our most helpless victims while protecting their perpetrators, which I find simply illogical.”

House Bill 1116 passed by a vote of 76-17.

 

House Bill 1466, by state Rep. Elise Hall, would create a procedure to allow the victim of domestic violence to transfer wireless telephone and utility accounts to their name when the account was previously in the name of another. The bill would require a court order containing relevant information to be sent to the wireless service provider or public utility to transfer the account.

“Victims of domestic violence are at risk of losing their support network when their abuser is the person who controls the cell phone accounts,” said Rep. Hall, R-Oklahoma City. “Abusers who are the primary account holders will often refuse to release the account to their victims, and often will monitor their victim’s calls, track them with GPS installed on the phone or close the account altogether to get back at the victim. This bill is aimed at protecting victims and giving them a sense of comfort knowing that they can prevent their phones and their utilities from being controlled by their abusers.”

House Bill 1466 passed on the House floor by a vote of 86-0.

All three bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

 

Additional quotes from victims on Marsy’s Law:

Kelly Vierling from Payne County, whose son was shot and killed during a party:

“The unanimous vote in support of Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma gave me more hope in our system than I have experienced in the last 26 months. Victims matter, and somehow we have to find a way to give them a voice in their journey through the criminal justice system. The system tends to rest on believing the only person fighting for their lives and well-being is the accused, giving no weight to what it takes for a victim to carry on and find a way to even begin to resemble the person they once were.” 

Tina Jones from Grady County, who was abused in some way by her ex-husband every day for 25 years:

“I was moved to be a part of Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma at the state Capitol, and I was very excited to see that the people who we have entrusted to make decisions understand how important it is for victims of abuse to have a voice in our judicial system equal to that as the abuser.”

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Oklahoma House of Representatives

House Republican Caucus

February 21, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Jason Sutton, Press Secretary

House Republican Caucus

Cell: (405) 328-8382