Oklahoma Senate

A new sticker designates a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale high school Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Legislation that would allow students with “deeply held religious beliefs” to use separate restrooms than their transgender peers passed through the Oklahoma Senate’s Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on Friday.

Under the measure, a student, parent or legal guardian would need to approach their school board and request the accommodation. No standard would have to be met to recognize the sincerely held religious belief.

Oklahoma state Capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma Senate passed legislation Thursday that would fill nearly one-tenth of a projected $1.3 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year.

Senate Bill 1577 eliminates a tax credit for economically at-risk oil wells, saving the state over $132 million. Under the bill, no tax credit claims can be made on marginally-producing wells from calendar year 2015 and beyond.

Oklahoma State Senate

Two bills that would require stricter oversight of various state tax credits and incentives have cleared a Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee approved both bills by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman on Tuesday. The measures now proceed to the full Senate.

Oklahoma State Senate

Members of the Oklahoma House and Senate have elected Rep. Jeff Hickman of Fairview and Sen. Brian Bingman of Sapulpa as their respective leaders for the new legislative session.

Both chambers convened at noon Tuesday for an organizational day that the Oklahoma Constitution requires before the start of each new two-year session. In addition to electing leaders to various posts, the Senate also approved new rules that make it easier to introduce a bill.

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Oklahoma lawmakers could bring home a smaller paycheck, work less and even see their numbers cut by a third under a few of the measures that have been filed ahead of the 2015 legislative session.

Nearly 70 measures have been filed so far in the Senate, with another handful in the House, but already legislators are coming up with some quirky and unusual ideas.

Republican Sen. Patrick Anderson of Enid has introduced a measure that would allow the people of Oklahoma decide whether to abolish the Senate altogether and change the Legislature to a single, 101-member body.

Bingman Sets Up The Senate

Dec 13, 2014
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman
Oklahoma Senate

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman named the members Friday who will serve as chair and vice chair of Senate committees and subcommittees during the 55th Legislature.

Unlike the House where House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, altered the committee structure from the prior legislative session, Bingman’s appointments reflect no changes in the structure.

Some members who previously served as chair or vice chairs of committees, however, are no longer filing those roles and in most cases have moved to other positions.

Long-running tension among Oklahoma's three branches of government reached a boiling point last week after a court decision in two death row cases.

Gov. Mary Fallin accused the state's Supreme Court of overstepping its bounds and some Republican lawmakers were so upset by the court's ruling that they called for the impeachment of justices.

The high court temporarily delayed the pending execution of two death row inmates, then later dropped the stays.

Katsrcool / Flickr Creative Commons

At least 37 state agencies hope to spend more than an additional $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2015, according to budget requests submitted to the Office of Management and Enterprises Services.

The agencies will be asking Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature to provide the bulk of that money, $806.0 million, the requests show.

The remainder would come from state revolving funds, $41.2 million, and the federal government, $277.2 million, the requests indicate.

State Senate

Oklahoma Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage says he won't run for re-election next year.

The Democrat from Claremore says he wants to focus his attention on his family and legal career. Burrage has served in the Oklahoma Senate since 2006, and went unchallenged in his re-election bid in 2010.

In November 2011, he was elected Senate Democratic leader. Burrage would have been term-limited in 2018 had he run for re-election next year.

A Senate committee is exploring the impact of Alzheimer's Disease in Oklahoma as part of an interim study being conducted while the Legislature is out of session.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee met Wednesday to review an annual report from an Alzheimer's Disease task force.

Committee Chairman Sen. Brian Crain says one reason for his study on Alzheimer's Disease is to make sure committee members are aware of issues Oklahomans face getting care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's.

Provided / Oklahoma Senate

The Mississippi state auditor says a former Oklahoma state senator has been arrested for embezzlement.

A news release from State Auditor Stacey Pickering's office says Jay Paul Gumm of Wiggins, Miss., was arrested last week for allegedly embezzling more than $24,000 from the Stone County Economic Development Partnership in Mississippi. Gumm is the former director of the partnership and is now free on $20,000 bond.

Pickering spokesman Brett Kittredge said Wednesday that Gumm is a former state senator from Durant, Okla.

Oklahoma Secretary of State

Former Secretary of State Glenn Coffee has been named the new general counsel for the State Chamber of Oklahoma. 

The chamber said Wednesday that Coffee's legal and legislative background make him a good fit for the position. As general counsel, he will provide legal advice for the chamber and serve as a member of its board of directors.

The group lobbies for pro-business reforms and initiatives throughout the state.

newslighter / Flickr Creative Commons

Senators requested a total of 55 interim studies by Friday’s deadline for submitting their proposals. ECapitol reports the proposed studies cover a variety of different issues.

Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner, for example, requested a study of the certification process for dialysis centers, Interim Study Request 2013S-22.

Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, has requested a study of the taxes and youth access to e-cigarettes. Johnson was the author of one bill related to the issue during the legislative session and contributed language concerning the products for another bill, neither of which was approved.

African-American Judges Honored By State Senate

May 16, 2013
Brian Hardzinski / Photo Illustration

Four groundbreaking African-American judges have been honored by the Oklahoma Senate.

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution honoring U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge David Lewis and Tulsa County District Court Judge Carlos Chappelle.

Miles-LaGrange was the first African-American elected chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in 2008.