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Todd Lamb’s Education Plan is “Recycled Idea”

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News Release:

OKLAHOMA CITY – (April 27, 2018) – Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Gary Jones said today that Todd Lamb’s plan to “get a minimum of 65% of every education dollar spent directly with teachers in the classroom,” isn’t Lamb’s plan – that he co-opted it and called it his own.

According to Jones, “The 65 Percent Solution” has been around since 2005 and is the brainchild of Tim Mooney, a Republican political consultant from Arizona. With the financial backing of Overstock.com founder Patrick M. Byme, Mooney is the strength behind the single-issue advocacy group First Class Education.

Jones believes it’s more of a campaign slogan than a plan.

“Part of the problem lies in definitions. Athletics would be counted as a classroom activity, including coaches’ salaries, but librarians, guidance counselors, food service workers and school bus drivers do not, under guidelines created by the National Center for Education Statistics,” said Jones.  Cookie cutter solutions and campaign slogans won’t fix the problems facing Oklahoma.”

Jones also said Lamb claims he wants to limit administrative cost of others, that doesn’t apply to the Lt. Governor.

“You don’t have to be a CPA to know that being chauffeured around in a state-owned vehicle, driven by a highway patrolman, attending campaign fundraisers, all while picking up campaign contributions, doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Jones. “The use of taxpayer funds to campaign for public office is a misuse of state resources regardless of who it is.”

Jones estimates that Lamb’s style of travel cost taxpayers upwards of $250,000 annually – which adds up to nearly $2,000,000.00 for his 8-year term as Lt. Governor.

According to Jones, Lamb’s office has previously stated that the Lt. Governor  is entitled to such excess because it is in the Oklahoma Statute. But in 2011, a bill was filed to only give the Lt. Gov. a security detail when the Governor was out of state. Lamb and his chief of staff went to the Oklahoma House Speaker’s office and demanded the bill to remove his security detail be killed. Here is that bill: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2011-12%20INT/hB/HB1616%20INT.PDF

Jones said Oklahomans deserve a true advocate for transparency and accountability at the State Capitol.

“For me, responsible government isn’t just talk, it’s a lifestyle. Getting more money to the classroom is much more than a campaign slogan for me; I have a real plan to get that done. If fixing our state’s problems matters as much to you as it does to me and my family, then let’s fix it together.”

Oklahoma Senate approves FY’19 budget giving education, mental health, criminal justice reform significant increases

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved a $7.6 billion general appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2019 that gives significant funding increases for common education, mental health services, child welfare programs, and criminal justice reform.

“For the first time in years, we have a budget in which no agency receives a cut. The budget contains a 19 percent increase for common education, more than $24 million for the Department of Human Services to fully fund the Pinnacle Plan, and $11 million for multiple criminal justice reform measures,” said President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus. “This budget puts additional resources toward core services like education, mental health, child welfare services, and public safety. And early approval of this budget increases the likelihood the Legislature can adjourn early, saving the additional costs of a few more weeks of session.”

“In this budget, Oklahoma Senate Republicans undeniably have demonstrated our commitment to education. This budget contains $365 million for a $6,100 on average teacher pay raise, $52 million for support staff raises, $33 million for textbooks, and $17 million in new funding for the school funding formula. We also secured $7.5 million in funding for concurrent enrollment. Education is important to the success of our state which is why Senate Republicans worked so hard to secure significant increases for our students, teachers, and schools in this budget,” Schulz said.

Senate Appropriations Chair Kim David, R-Porter, said, “After years of economic recession in Oklahoma that led to massive cuts to the state budget, our state has finally turned the corner and this year’s budget reflects that. The fiscal year 2019 budget has $260 million in growth revenue due to policy changes and growth in the economy. That growth means our budget is on more stable financial footing because it has greatly reduced our reliance on so-called ‘one-time money.’ It’s a great feeling to have no agency budget cuts, and instead have a budget that puts significantly more money toward education, mental health services, and public safety.”

Highlights of the FY’19 budget:

– $7.6 billion budget

  • Approximately $745 million increase over FY’18$365 million for teacher pay raises
  • $54 million for state employee raises
  • $260 million in growth revenue
  • No cuts for any agency

– $2.9 billion for common education, a 19 percent increase

  • $6,100 teacher pay raise, on average
  • $52 million for support staff raises
  • $33 million for textbooks
  • $17 million in new state-aid funding formula
  • $7.5 million increase for concurrent enrollment

– $24.6 million funding increase for Department of Human Services, fully funding Pinnacle Plan

  • 7 percent increase for Medicaid Advantage waiver, Developmental Disability and Group Home rate increases
  • 5 percent increase on foster care and adoption rates
  • $2 million increase for the Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD) wait list

– $11 million in criminal justice reform initiatives

  • $5 million to Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
  • $1.1 million to Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS)
  • $1 million to District Attorney’s Council

– $2 million for agency performance audits conducted by Agency Performance and Accountability Commission

– $4.8 million to Department of Corrections to implement electronic offender management system

– $4 million to Office of Emergency Management for disaster relief

– $400,000 to Department of Agriculture for rural fire fighters

Sine Die – The End of the Legislative Session

Lawmakers adjourned the Second Regular Session of the 56th Legislature on May 3, wrapping up work three weeks earlier than is statutorily required. Despite the early Sine Die, legislators were able to accomplish some significant policy gains this session. “Sine Die” is the end of session; it is a latin term that means “without day” or adjournment.

The reforms I have the most hope for concern our state’s criminal justice system. My colleagues and I passed nine measures aimed at streamlining our sentencing structure, authorizing bonds to fund repairs at state penitentiaries and creating risk assessment tools. By investing money into the front end of people’s lives, instead of stacking felonies and increasing sentence lengths, Oklahoma should be able to reap millions of dollars in savings.

The Legislature’s hope is to transfer those savings to intervention and diversion programs as well as mental health services. By doing so, Oklahomans will have a better chance of staying out of prison and getting their lives back on track. I’ve heard concerns about these reforms not going far enough, but I know we can all agree these are important steps toward bettering the future of so many Oklahomans.

Of course, the biggest achievement this session was balancing the state budget. As our economy continues to rebound, more money flows into our state’s general revenue fund. When you combine those additional dollars with the revenue measures lawmakers passed this session, our state agencies should feel the difference. These departments have undergone years of funding cuts, and providing them with budgetary increases was a welcome relief. My goal is to properly fund core services without bloating government and do so without waste.

I am keenly aware the money the Legislature doles out belongs to you, the taxpayer. Thankfully, we have developed important checks and balances that should constantly evaluate government spending. The Incentive Evaluation Commission is integral in ensuring the money we spend on tax credits and incentives reap a good return on investment. The Agency Performance and Accountability Commission will be invaluable as lawmakers move toward forming each year’s budget. As those experts relay their findings to the Legislature, we will consider our practices and adjust as necessary. Also, we saw the legislature return to line-item budgeting this year. This is huge because line-item budgeting keeps bureaucrats accountable to the legislature and, ultimately, the people. We are on the right track, but there is still much work to do.

Some people have asked why lawmakers opted to adjourn three weeks early instead of sticking it out through the end of May to continue policy work. The short answer is this – the Legislature absorbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected cost through both special legislative sessions and other major events that occurred this year. By ending formal session early, lawmakers are saving taxpayer dollars while spending much-needed time back in their districts. Work continues at the local level, and I know we’re all glad to be home for a bit.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything. I’m at Marcus.McEntire@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7327. Thanks, and may God bless you and this great state.

New law to allow Oklahoma farmers to grow hemp

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Lonnie Paxton applauded Gov. Fallin for signing legislation Tuesday to help grow Oklahoma’s agriculture industry by allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp. House Bill 2913, by Sen. Paxton, Rep. Jon Echols and Rep. Mickey Dollens, creates the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program.

“Currently, Oklahoma can import hemp but can’t grow it.  This will help diversify our state’s struggling economy and will provide a tremendous boost to the agriculture industry,” said Paxton, R-Tuttle.  “This new industry will potentially create thousands of jobs and put hundreds of millions of dollars a year into our economy.  There’s a strong possibility that it could easily become a $1 billion industry.”

The new law will allow universities or farmers contracting with universities to cultivate certified hemp crops for research and development for industrial uses.  The Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry will manage the program.  A revolving fund will also be created for all registration, lab, and inspection fees paid by program participants.

Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and has been found to have more than 50,000 uses including rope, clothes, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation and biofuel.  Being a weed, it is drought tolerant taking one-third the amount of water of alfalfa.  The benefits of cultivating this plant is that it can yield 3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre per year, which is four times what an average forest can yield and it does not require chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides. Hemp could yield Oklahoma farmers as much as $1,500 per acre.

The new law, which went into effect upon being signed, was made possible by the Agricultural Act of 2014 allowing the growing of hemp under pilot programs overseen by universities.  Nearly 40 other states already have industrial hemp programs.

From the State Senate

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It was an honor to have served the people of District 31 in my first session with the Oklahoma State Senate.  People who have worked in or around the Capitol for the last several decades said that this was by far the most difficult budget year they’ve seen.  As the state continues its way out of three years of revenue shortfalls, the legislature had the task of closing a nearly $1 billion revenue shortfall.  Past legislatures had depended strongly on the use of one-time monies to avoid having to raise revenues, but we took the difficult stance of strengthening our state’s budget and ensuring future stability by creating new sources of revenue.

After much debate and compromise, the legislature finally approved a $6.8 billion budget.  I’m proud of my Senate colleagues for their willingness to do what was best for our more than 60 state agencies so that they can continue to provide vital state services.  Constituents often call me to discuss budgetary matters, focusing on one state agency.  However, I have found one of the most challenging parts of serving in the Senate is not having the luxury of meeting the budgetary needs and requests of one or two agencies. We’re responsible for appropriating funds to all 67 of our state agencies, and this year we had very little to give.

At the beginning of session, budget leaders warned agencies that to fill the budget hole cuts of 15-20 percent might be required; and you have to remember that some agencies have already been cut up to 50 percent in the last decade.

I’m pleased to say that the budget protects our schools, public health, human services, and safety as well as corrections.  We were able to provide additional funding to common education by running a trailer bill (HB 2360), which provided an additional $18 million from the Rainy Day Fund and held education flat.  This bill was an agreement between the Senate and House to keep the school funding formula at the same level as FY ‘17 in spite of the nearly $1 billion shortfall.  The remaining state agencies received on average of a less than five percent cut to their budgets.

Progress was made to correct structural problems that have existed for years in the budget.  The Senate approved several measures that will provide new revenue for our state for years to come.  Among other measures, we created $95 million by raising the Gross Production Tax (GPT) on “1 percent” wells to 4 percent; $46 million by eliminating oil and gas GPT rebates; $15 million from increased tax enforcement; and $9 million from changes approved for long-lateral drilling.  We also will save the state millions of dollars in future budget years by accelerating the sunset date of the wind tax credit.

We approved a tobacco cessation program with the intent of saving lives and improving the health of Oklahomans by encouraging people to quit smoking, especially children.  The program will be funded by a $1.50 per pack fee for cigarettes that’s expected to generate around $215 million. This will also help lower our state’s healthcare costs significantly of which tobacco contributes billions in unnecessary expenses to taxpayers annually.

This is a responsible, practical plan that generates new revenue for this year and beyond, protects education, DOC and DHS while also implementing reforms to address chronic budget shortfalls.
Besides working on the budget, we approved legislation to strengthen the state’s education system, protect the health and safety of our youth, provide further assistance to our veterans, strengthen our criminal justice system and ensure that Oklahoma IDs meet federal REAL ID requirements.  I’ll discuss these areas in the coming weeks.
In closing, I was honored to carry the nomination of Ervin Randle of Lawton to the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission succeeding Dan Mullins.

We want to thank Cache junior, Dalton McDonald, for serving as a page during the next to last week of session.  This month has been extremely busy so his assistance was greatly appreciated and we hope he learned a lot about his state government and the legislative process.
We also want to thank everyone from the district who made the trip to Oklahoma City this year and stopped by to visit with us.  We truly appreciate your support and input and for sharing your successes and special events with us.

At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Chris Kidd, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 411A, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at kidd@oksenate.gov, or by calling (405) 521-5563 and speaking to my assistant Suzanne Earnest.

Senate May Repeal Hotel Tax

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Senate will meet Friday to consider special session and regular session measures.

The Senate will meet in special session at 8:30 a.m. Friday to consider HB 1019xx, the marketplace fairness act or so-called “Amazon bill,” as well as HB 1012xx, a bill that repeals the “hotel/motel” tax that was originally included the $530 million revenue package (HB 1010xx) passed by the Legislature last week that completely funds the largest teacher pay raise in state history.

The Amazon bill is estimated to generate approximately $20 million and when added to growth revenue in the state budget more than makes up for the hotel/motel tax.

The Senate also will meet in regular session Friday morning to consider HB 3375, the so-called “ball and dice” bill.

Agendas can be viewed on the Senate website. Senate floor proceedings can be viewed via livestream.

Senate bills filed for 2018 session

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The Senate has completed filing bills for the Second Session of the 56th Legislature. A total of 706 Senate bills were filed along with 23 Senate Joint Resolutions. In 2016, a total of 831 Senate bills and 46 Senate Joint Resolutions were filed.

The deadline does not apply to appropriations bills which can be filed throughout the session. In addition, substantive bills can be introduced during the session after the filing deadline. In order for this to occur, the Majority Floor Leader must assign it to a committee and the entire committee becomes the published author of the bill. Such bills must still be heard on the floor by March 22, the deadline for floor votes on legislation originating in the Senate. Measures not heard within that time frame will be considered dead and cannot be reconsidered.

The process of authoring bills by committee was first adopted by the Senate in 2015 to do away with shell bills, which were bills with no language used as vehicles for measures later in the session. The change was aimed at increasing transparency in the legislative process.

Legislation can be read and downloaded through the official State Senate website at www.oksenate.gov by following the link for Legislation at the top of the homepage. The Senate website also includes daily agendas, meeting notices, calendars, and other helpful information.

You can also follow the Oklahoma State Senate on Twitter at OKSENATEINFO.

The Senate offers streaming audio and video from the Senate Chamber, as well as from all committee rooms. Wireless Internet access is available to all Capitol visitors throughout the Senate gallery, rotunda, committee rooms, offices and press rooms.

The 2018 legislative session will reconvene on Monday, February 5.

Shelby and Ryleigh Watkins serve as pages for Senator Chris Kidd

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Comanche High School senior, Shelby Watkins, and sophomore, Ryleigh Watkins served as Senate pages for State Sen. Chris Kidd, R-Waurika, during the tenth week of the legislative session from April 9 – 12, 2018. Shelby and Ryleigh are the daughters of Waurika residents Chris and Raquel Watkins.

From the office of Senator Chris Kidd February 22 2018

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The third week of the regular session is underway. We have two more weeks of committee work on bills before we turn our attention to debate before the full Chamber.

This session, I filed nine Senate bills and three have already received committee approval.  SB 1364 authorizes the board of county commissioners to trade-in equipment to a vendor or on a statewide contract by acquiring used equipment values pursuant to state statute.

SB 1488 modifies the Wildlife Conservation Code to add a lifetime landowner hunting license for legal residents who have resided in the state for at least six months and intend to remain residents.  The price of the new lifetime license for 500 to 1,000 acres would be $50,000 and $75,000 for any tract of land over 1,000 acres.

SB 1492 relates to boiler inspectors and requires that deputy inspectors receive a valid National Board Commission within 24 months after appointment rather than 18.

In other legislative news, the Senate will be bringing back the state’s largest agencies for further budget hearings.  These agencies account for approximately 92 percent of the annual appropriated state budget.  Typically, only the appropriations subcommittees have budget hearings during the interim.  However, we thought that holding another round during session would allow more senators, the public and media to learn more about the various budgets and spending practices of the agencies. State revenues continue to rise, which is promising as we begin work for the upcoming budget.

This year, the Senate’s highest priority is the budget.  We must craft a responsible budget and seek reforms that provide budget stability and reduce reliance on one-time money.

Education and getting more dollars into the classroom will also be a priority.  We must find a way to fully fund a teacher salary increase, find efficiencies in our education system and also improve the funding formula.  This week, the State Aid Funding Formula Task Force will be meeting to discuss current and future legislation that may impact the formula.

The second special session is ongoing as well.  Last week was disappointing to say the least.  Once again, after the Step Up budget plan was approved by both the House and Senate Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget, the plan failed to get super majority approval in the House.  The Senate never got a chance to vote on the measure even though we’ve already passed similar plans in the last few months.

Sadly, voting against the Step Up plan was a vote against raising teacher pay, funding for our health and human services, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and putting our state on a stable budget path forward.

Regardless of the plan’s failure, we are constitutionally mandated to balance the budget each year. This means we must move forward, and close the books on FY’18.

JCAB bills addressing the FY’18 cuts and necessary appropriations to help the health care agencies all passed last week and may be considered this week in the Senate.

At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Chris Kidd, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 411A, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at kidd@oksenate.gov, or by calling (405) 521-5563 and speaking to my assistant Suzanne Earnest.

Sen. Nathan Dahm calls on legislature to correct years of veto decisions

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‘Over the last eight years we have seen decisions from the governor that are out of step with the will of the people, with the Republican party platform, and with the Constitution.’—Sen. Nathan Dahm

Broken Arrow, OK – Sen. Nathan Dahm has started the process for legislators to call themselves back into session to pass legislation vetoed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

“Over the last eight years we have seen decisions from the governor that are out of step with the will of the people, with the Republican Party platform, and with the Constitution,” said Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. “We have seen Governor Fallin use her veto pen to kill bills that would have brought transparency and accountability to government, reined in out of control agency rules, get parents more involved in education, restore our Second Amendment rights, return local control back to communities, secure parental rights in healthcare decisions, streamline and modernize state government, restore private property rights, change the budgeting system for long term planning, and more. This would afford us the opportunity to correct those mistakes without having to wait another year to do so.”

In order to enter a special session, two-thirds of both the House and the Senate must agree to return.

“The Oklahoma Constitution allows for the Legislature to call itself back into session with two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. It appears likely we will return back to the Capitol for at least one more special session this summer or fall. If we will be returning for another session, it would seem an opportune time to simultaneously deal with these measures the Governor has vetoed,” Dahm said.

So far, the following members have already signed on to the resolution: Reps. Sean Roberts; Greg Babinec; Bobby Cleveland; Jeff Coody; Jon Echols; George Faught; Tom Gann; Lewis Moore; Zack Taylor; Kevin West; Rick West; Mark Lawson; and Sens. Nathan Dahm; Josh Brecheen; James Leewright; and Anthony Sykes.

Dahm has the first ever veto override of a Republican governor by a Republican legislature in state history. In 2014 Fallin vetoed HB2461, a pro-Second Amendment bill supported by the NRA, OK2A, and other gun rights groups when she included the bill in a group of vetoes in an attempt to force the legislature to focus on her preferred agenda items. The Legislature overrode the veto in a historic move and by doing so furthered Second Amendment protections that would have otherwise been stalled by Fallin.

Dahm represents Oklahoma’s 33rd district. He was first elected in 2012.

For more information, contact Sen. Nathan Dahm, 405-521-5551 or dahm@oksenate.gov.

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