August 27, 2015

Sen. Bryce Marlatt Wednesday fired back

Sen. Bryce Marlatt Wednesday fired back at House Democrats who criticized his plan to increase teacher pay. Last week Marlatt, R-Woodward, proposed a new plan to fund an across-the-board teacher pay raise next legislative session using monies in Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). Marlatt said he will propose a ballot initiative to use funds from TSET, which has a balance of nearly $1 billion, to fund the “much needed” pay increase.

But some were not enthused. Rep. Steve Kouplen called it “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Kouplen, D-Beggs, said following the announcement that Republicans should postpone or halt the scheduled tax cut if they “truly cared about education and teacher pay.”


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August 27, 2015

State Board of Education approved the hiring

The State Board of Education approved the hiring Thursday of a new board attorney following their previous attorney’s resignation in April.

Brad Clark, who previous served as general counsel and director of legal services and policy at the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, was named general counsel after the board’s approval.

The board was scheduled to make a decision on entering into a contract with the Attorney General’s Office for legal services following Kim Richey’s sudden resignation in April.

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August 27, 2015

The Council of Bond Oversight gave its approval

The Council of Bond Oversight gave its approval Thursday to two University of Oklahoma bond issues totaling $245 million.

Eight different projects will be funded with the proceeds of the issues, council members were told by State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph and Chris Kuwitzky, University of Oklahoma associate vice president of administration and finance.

In addition to the revenue from the bond sales, some of the projects will be augmented with university and private funds, the council was told.

The projects include:
Memorial Stadium improvements and expansion;
Residential college construction;
Parking structures;
Campus streets and drives;
Technology infrastructure;
Real property acquisition;
Utility system capital projects; and
Construction of an “innovations hub.

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August 26, 2015

A nearly $4 million grant has been dedicated

A nearly $4 million grant has been dedicated to increase access to medical care for Oklahomans in rural and underserved areas.

The six-year, $3.8 million grant has been awarded to the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority and is being funded by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

The funding, along with some matching funds by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, will fund additional residencies at McAlester Regional Health Center; Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton; Norman Regional Medical Center; and Mercy Health System-Oklahoma hospitals in Ada, Ardmore and Oklahoma City.

 

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August 26, 2015

A few Senators expressed their desire

A few Senators expressed their desire to be more involved in the administrative rules process Wednesday during an interim study discussion of how it handles approval and disapproval of agency rules.

“One of the reasons I requested this (study) is because we only see this omnibus bill at the end of session,” said Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah. “The way I see it, a rule begins with our executive branch and ends with our executive branch with very little input from the Legislature.”

Interim study S15-049 was sparked by the Legislature’s failure to pass an omnibus rules bill for the second consecutive year this past session. Their lack of action stems from a change in 2013 that requires all rules to be approved by general reference in an omnibus joint resolution and for disapproved rules to be listed individually. Prior to that, administrative rules were considered legislatively approved if lawmakers did not disapprove them.
 

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August 26, 2015

Teachers Retirement System likely will ask its act

The Teachers Retirement System likely will ask its actuary to look at a proposed bill that would modify statutes that govern when a retired teacher can return to the classroom. The system’s executive director also said Wednesday the agency will put out a request for proposals for legislative representation in advance of the 2016 session.

Teachers Retirement System Executive Director Tom Spencer noted two bills were sent to the legislative actuary during the 2015 session – HB2200 and SB0454 -- to determine the fiscal impact they would have on the retirement systems. HB2200 would provide a one-time stipend for retirees in the state’s pension systems. SB0454 would modify the return to work statutes for teachers.

The bills would be eligible for consideration during the 2016 session.

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