June 23, 2016

Elections begin to select next Legislature

Voters began going to the polls Thursday to start the process of settling 25 Senate races and 81 House contests for the next Legislature as early voting for Tuesday’s primary election got under way.               

Nineteen House and 11 Senate seats are totally up for grabs as the current holders of those posts are term-limited and are not able to seek reelection. Several other seats also are undefended since the lawmakers in those seats chose not to seek reelection before their term limits kicked in.

 

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June 23, 2016

State education board approves proposal

The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to allow the formation of a new high school in Pottawatomie County.               

The North Rock Creek school district currently serves children from elementary to middle school levels, with children eventually attending high schools located in neighboring districts such as Shawnee. The proposal before the board Thursday allows North Rock Creek to establish and expand its own high school, allowing students to complete their primary education in their community of origin as an alternative to traveling elsewhere.               

“Our kids need this,” said Patricia Brown, a fourth grade teacher at North Rock Creek. “They need to be close to home. As wonderful as Shawnee High School is, it is very difficult for these children to leave the district where they have been since early childhood…they belong in this community and I believe it would be to the best interest of all if we put this high school in place.”

 

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June 23, 2016

One senator takes to social media to detail bill

One senator has taken a unique route to give his constituents a behind-the-scenes view of the legislative process of the bills he authored last session. Sen. David Holt is using Twitter, via the hashtag #11BillsIn11Days, to explain to readers “where (each bill) came from, how it progressed through the Legislature, and what it means to the people of Oklahoma,” according to his first post.               

Each Tweet, which is limited to 140 characters each, links the reader to Holt’s website where he intends to write a blog post about each measure he’s authored that has been signed into law.               

In an interview on Thursday, Holt said he typically does an online wrap up of the session and says he’s “very active on social media.”               

“This is the first time I’ve decided to go long-form on it and get in the weeds on each bill,” he said. “It’s a bit of a time commitment so I don’t know if I’ll do it every year but…I think this is a year that people were paying attention to the Legislature more than they have in recent history.”

 

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June 23, 2016

OCPA Impact files new challenge to penny sales tax

OCPA Impact filed a new challenge with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to a proposed ballot measure that would increase the state sales tax to fund education initiatives.               

Dave Bond, chief executive officer for OCPA Impact, said the proposal does not comply with state law and should not be placed on the November general election ballot. In particular, the group is challenging the gist of the proposal, which is the summary of the measure that appeared at the top of every page of signatures gathered in support of the plan. The group also argues the ballot title should be changed, saying it is insufficient for many of the same reasons as the gist.               

The proposal is known as Initiative Petition No. 403. It would be State Question 779 if it makes it to the ballot. The group challenged the constitutionality of the proposal in November but lost.

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June 21, 2016

Lottery Commission discusses legislation, budget

Oklahoma Lottery Commission Executive Director Rollo Redburn gave members a legislative update Tuesday after 10 years of no movement on a bill that would eliminate the Oklahoma lottery’s 35 percent net proceeds minimum requirement.               

HB2456, by Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, was referred to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee and failed the deadline to be heard. Last session, said Redburn, the bill made it through a subcommittee but Appropriations and Budget Chairman Earl Sears “pulled it and said he wouldn’t hear it in committee.”

 

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June 21, 2016

Legislators request AG’s opinion regarding lack

Four state representatives requested an opinion Monday from Attorney General Scott Pruitt regarding Gov. Mary Fallin’s failure to appoint a southeastern Oklahoman to represent Region 9 on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB).               

A letter addressed to Pruitt, signed by Democratic Reps. Brian Renegar and Donald Condit, of McAlester, Edward Cannady, of Porum, and Johnny Tadlock, of Idabel, was delivered to the AG’s office Monday afternoon. The legislators contend that Fallin is not complying with state law by not filling the Region 9 post last month.

 

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