March 4, 2015

Senate Appropriations Chair Jolley Asks for New

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Clark Jolley asked for a proposal for a new maximum security prison from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton at a committee meeting Wednesday. The committee met with the department for an in-depth discussion about the budget as a result of the projected increase in the state’s budget deficit.

“Is it time for us to have a discussion of building a new maximum security prison in Oklahoma to cut the cost and provide for a safer environment for the correction officers as well as for the state?” Jolley asked.

“We’re about 10 years late in that discussion sir,” replied Patton. “You hit the nail on the head…it’s 10 generations behind maximum security prisons around the nation, so yes we’re way past the point where we need to start that discussion.”

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March 4, 2015

Senate Gave Approval Wednesday to two Measures

The Senate gave its approval Wednesday to two measures that would create a system for evaluating tax credits and economic incentives to determine their effectiveness. The chamber also gave its approval to a series of other measures but one bill failed and another was laid over before being put to a vote.
 
“Under current law, once tax credits and economic incentives are approved by the Legislature, we don’t have a system to provide us with reliable data on their effectiveness,” Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said of his SB0806 and SB0815. “This legislation would correct that problem, and ensure that lawmakers have the information to determine whether incentives are working as intended. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that Oklahoma job creators are succeeding, and

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March 4, 2015

House Heard 29 Bills Wednesday

The House heard 29 bills Wednesday, passing 25 of them before adjourning at 2:30 in the afternoon.

One of the day’s three failed bills was HB1763 by Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, and Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee. Enns said the bill was directed at students who receive the required grades in the classroom to graduate from high school but fail to annual state-mandated end-of-instruction tests.

He said school districts ought to have the option to recognize students who do everything asked of them for most of the school year but are unable to achieve at a certain level on a high-stakes test.

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March 4, 2015

A Bill Seeking to Modernize Creek Turnpike

A bill seeking to modernize a portion of the Creek Turnpike with video toll collection was narrowly failed by House members Wednesday afternoon.

HB1568, by Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, modifies definitions under the Oklahoma Electronic Toll Collection Act. The bill authorizes the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to establish a video toll collection system and establishes a notification and fee system for drivers.

The video collection system, Mulready explained, would remove the need for toll booths in the Jenks turnpike and would result in a potential savings of $6 million. Under HB1568, a video monitor would take an image of a vehicle and its license plate and mail toll fees to the person’s address.
 

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March 3, 2015

House Democrats on Tuesday Blamed Past Rep

House Democrats on Tuesday blamed past Republican measures and priorities for the state’s estimated $600 million budget shortfall.

House Democratic Caucus Leader Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, said at a news conference that a lack of attention by the state’s majority party in the areas of health care, education and public safety are to blame for the State Board of Equalization’s $611 million shortfall. Inman said while Republican leaders have said their solution will be to use “every tool in the toolbox” to solve the state’s budget problem, they first need to find the true roots of the issue.

The Republican idea of “every tool in the toolbox,” Inman said, is utilizing state agency revolving funds, tapping the Rainy Day Fund and finding more state budget cuts. He said the Republicans must not truly have every tool at their disposal, because in the Democratic toolbox, he said they have $150 million in tax cuts.

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March 3, 2015

The Senate Narrowly Passed a bill Tuesday

The Senate narrowly passed a bill Tuesday morning that would allow public utility providers to place liens on property with unpaid accounts, while a series of other measures easily won the chamber’s approval.

The floor substitute for SB0695, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, passed 25 to 20. It permits the governing body of a public entity to cause its utility accounts that have unpaid solid waste service within the municipal limits to be collect in accordance with a provided and specified procedure and also provides specific definitions to terms used therein.

Several members questioned whether allowing a public utility provider to place a lien on a property was going too far. Others suggested property owners might be punished for the actions of tenants to whom they rent property.

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