Oklahoma Politics

Oklahoma Politics
12:50 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

State Senator To Seek Democratic Party Post

State Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) at a press conference during the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 2012 visit to the State Capitol
Credit Oklahoma Senate

A state senator from Oklahoma City has announced her candidacy for chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

State Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) said Friday she will seek the post during the party's annual convention on Saturday, May 18. Democratic campaign strategist Jed Green will seek the vice-chair position.

Current Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins also is seeking re-election to the post, along with current vice-chair Dana Orwig. Collins is a former Democratic state legislator from Norman.

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8:29 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Consultant: Pay Private Insurers To Cover Medicaid Eligible Oklahomans

Lead in text: 
State leaders have been looking for a way to cover thousands of uninsured Oklahomans after Gov. Mary Fallin rejected a federal expansion of Medicaid. A consultant told the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to look toward Arkansas for an answer.
A consultant hired by Oklahoma to propose ideas on state health care policies is recommending the state adopt a plan similar to one in Arkansas that channels state and federal money to private insurers to cover the uninsured. The approach would mean changing and expanding the current Insure Oklahoma plan, which subsidizes premiums for more than 30,000 uninsured people but is capped.
State Capitol
9:28 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Prison Workers At "Breaking Point," Seek More Funding

Sgt. David Edelman presents his case for increased pay for Department of Corrections workers Wednesday at the state Capitol while other prison workers look on.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

Oklahoma prison workers say they are worn out due to staffing shortages, low wages and the increasing prison population.

About a dozen uniformed prison guards visited the state Capitol Wednesday, urging lawmakers to reconsider their decision not to support a pay raise for workers at the Department of Corrections.

“DOC is at a breaking point,” said Sgt. David Edelman, an officer at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center. “We are being forced to do 60-to-80 hours a week, and used to we could ask for overtime, but not anymore, we’re being forced.”        

A $12 million proposal to give prison workers a five percent pay increase stalled earlier this session in a House committee.

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9:57 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Consultant Keeping Oklahoma Health Plan Under Wraps

Lead in text: 
The public will get its first glimpse of an Oklahoma plan to provide health care to uninsured residents. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is supposed to present some of the findings from the study at its Thursday meeting. The entire report, though, is not being released.
A consultant hired by Oklahoma to help create a plan for covering people without health insurance has delivered a draft report on its findings to state officials, but officials refuse to release the report.
State Capitol
5:39 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

License to Drive Could Cost More

Credit Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety

The cost of getting a driver's license in Oklahoma will go up by about $12 under a bill making its way to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk.

The Senate voted 30-15 on Monday to approve the bill that would increase the cost of issuing or renewing a standard driver's license from $21.50 to $33.50.

The cost of various commercial drivers' licenses also is going up by $10. The new rates will be effective Nov. 1.

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State Capitol
8:08 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Lawmakers Approve Income Tax Cut Despite Threat of Reimbursment Costs

Credit 401(K) 2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

A lawsuit by an out-of-state company that challenges a tax break on capital gains for Oklahoma-based businesses is causing some concern at the state Capitol.

An analysis on the potential costs of a tax reimbursement show Oklahoma could be on the hook for as much as $480 million if the court rules in favor of tax payers.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Hickman raised the issue during questions on a tax cut bill approved by the House last week. But budget negotiators said any repercussions of the capital gains issue should be worked out apart from the state budget.

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State Capitol
6:45 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Okla. Legislators, Governor Reach Deal on Budget

Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) and other legislative leaders announce Thursday's budget agreement at the State Capitol.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

Lawmakers have until the end of this month to complete their work, including the passing of a state budget. The adjournment date might come sooner with the announcement of an agreement on how to spend the state’s money.

The budget to pay for Oklahoma’s government will be $7.1 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, under an agreement between Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders. For most state agencies the amount of money they’ll receive in the new budget year is the same as last, but Fallin says the largest increase in the budget is for public schools in Oklahoma.

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Online Testing
3:54 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Lawmakers Call for Testing Moratorium After Mishap

Credit Jose Kevo / Flickr

Some state legislators are calling for a moratorium on public school testing after a number of computer glitches were reported by state education officials.

Longtime school administrator and State Rep. Curtis McDaniel (D-Smithville) says it would be unfair to subject students to testing this year after ``a ton of problems'' have been reported with the process.

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12:04 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Computer Crash Stops State Testing of Students

Lead in text: 
Students in Oklahoma and Indiana were among those who had their state-mandated tests halted due to problems with computer servers in New Jersey.
By KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer on Apr 30, 2013, at 2:28 AM Updated on 4/30/13 at 7:38 AM School testing came to a halt statewide early Monday because the CTB/McGraw-Hill testing company servers in New Jersey crashed around 9 a.m., state education officials said.
Smoking Ban
3:23 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

State Property Smoking Ban Approved

Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

The Oklahoma House has approved a bill that puts into state law Gov. Mary Fallin's executive order banning smoking on state property.

Fallin signed the executive order against smoking in state buildings last year. The House passed a bill 76-14 Tuesday that would expand the ban to properties that aren't buildings and would allow cities and counties to ban smoking on their properties.

The bill now goes to the governor for her signature.

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