KGOU

State Capitol

News from Oklahoma's Capitol: from the state legislature, governor's office and state agencies.

Ralph Ellison Portrait Planned For Oklahoma Capitol

Oct 16, 2013
A young Ralph Ellison
http://www.ralphellisoncentennial.com

UPDATE: The Ralph Ellison Centennial Gala is Feb. 8 at the Oklahoma History Center. 

Portraits hanging on the walls of the state Capitol building provide a glimpse of the people who helped make Oklahoma what it is today.

You can see Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Robert S. Kerr, Carl Albert, Woody Guthrie and Angie Debo.

But Ralph Ellison, one of Oklahoma’s most famous writers, is not honored in this way, and that is about to change.

State Leaders, Workers Enjoy Ample Health Benefits

Aug 6, 2013
Oklahoma Capitol Building
ana branca / Flickr

When Gov. Mary Fallin and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb go see their primary-care doctors, they pay $30 out of pocket. Their prescriptions cost $10 if they get generics, more if they get name-brand drugs.

Oklahoma taxpayers pick up the entire cost of their insurance premiums, which total $18,113 per year for each of their families.

In fact, the health allowance they receive from the state totals $19,717 a year. They can use the surplus to pay for other state benefits or roll it into their take-home pay.

KellyK / Flickr Creative Commons

The renovated commission responsible for overseeing, among other things, State Capitol repairs should soon begin its work.

John Estus, spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said the agency hopes the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission will begin its work in “late summer or early fall.”

Oklahoma State Capitol
ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

As workers remodel House and Senate space in the State Capitol, lawmakers are confident the construction will not affect a possible special legislative session.

House Media Director Jason Sutton and Senate Communications Director Malia Bennett told eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley the current construction on offices or committee rooms would not impact the work lawmakers may be called to do.

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon
Oklahoma House

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon is planning to release a list of legislative studies that lawmakers will take up before the 2014 Legislature convenes in February.

Shannon is expected to release the list on Friday, the deadline for study requests by lawmakers to be approved or denied. Former House Speaker Kris Steele approved studies on 59 topics out of 89 individual requests last year.

Interim studies give lawmakers an opportunity to receive testimony and examine issues in depth to decide whether to draft legislation on a particular topic.

Oklahoma State Capitol
ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 70 bills take effect Monday, including legislation that will ultimately provide for a 2015 Oklahoma income tax reduction and fund repairs to the State Capitol.

ECapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports the bill apportions $60 million to the fund in fiscal year 2014 and FY2015.

Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon says user fees have gone up by about $100 million since 2007, and he wanted to ban most fee increases this past legislative session.

But in the end, it was more of a technicality than worry over how to fund the government that killed House Bill 1914.

Shannon’s bill passed the House and Senate, but was never sent to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law. So, the fees agencies charge for their services can continue to go up … and they are.

Lawmakers Approve Income Tax Cut Despite Threat of Reimbursment Costs

May 6, 2013
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.

Okla. GOP Leaders Agree on Tax Cuts for 2015

Apr 24, 2013
Gov. Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa), and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) announce their tax cut proposal in the Blue Room of the State Capitol - April 23, 2013.
Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The Republican leaders at the State Capitol gathered in the Blue Room Tuesday to announce what they’re calling major agreements on several key proposals before lawmakers this session.

Gov. Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) each took turns describing the plan to cut state income taxes, change the workers’ compensation system and repair the State Capitol.

No "Black Helicopters" at State Capitol

Mar 26, 2013
Marshall Astor / Flickr (Creative Commons)

A state environmental group says Oklahoma lawmakers are wasting their time focusing on legislation intended to feed an extremist agenda. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club specifically targeted a bill by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City dealing with an international takeover of Oklahoma the environmental organization says doesn’t exist.

Graduates of the 60th Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper academy.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol

 The Oklahoma House has overwhelmingly approved a $7.3 million plan to give state Highway Patrol troopers a pay increase.

The House voted 90-0 on Thursday for the bill by Dacoma Republican Rep. Jeff Hickman. It now goes to the state Senate.

Hickman says one-third of the roughly 770 troopers currently are retirement eligible and that there's a critical "manpower issue."

The bill would boost the starting salary of a cadet from $33,192 to $38,602. Starting troopers who have completed their probation would see their pay boosted from $38,000 to $44,194.

Parole Board Members Plead Not Guilty

Mar 14, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Members of Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board have pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of violating the state's Open Meeting Act.

The five board members appeared with their attorneys before Oklahoma County Special Judge Russell Hall Thursday. They are due back in court on April 18.

The charges were filed Wednesday by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

Gov. Fallin Staying Quiet on Teachers With Guns

Mar 14, 2013
shannonpatrick17 / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Gov. Mary Fallin says for now, she won't comment on legislation that would allow educators with special training to carry guns inside the state's public schools.

Fallin says it's too early in the legislative process, since bills frequently go through a lot of changes between now and closer to the end of session.

House Bill 1062 is headed to the Senate after winning approval in the House this week.

The proposal would let administrators or teachers in Oklahoma's public schools have a loaded handgun inside the school building after passing special school resource officer training.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

The two leaders of a working committee overseeing Oklahoma's plan to lower the state's prison population have resigned, saying they would no longer chair the group and couldn't ask other members to keep serving.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater resigned Thursday as chairmen of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative group. They cited what they call dishonesty from Gov. Mary Fallin's office and a House vote creating a committee that could replace them.

It's Deadline Day! Lawmakers Push to Hear Bills

Mar 14, 2013

Oklahoma's state representatives and senators are set to enter the final day to hear bills in their original chamber, resetting the stage for the rest of this year's session.

Thursday is the deadline for the House to hear House bills and the Senate to hear Senate bills. Only those proposals that have been approved by Thursday are likely to advance to the other chamber, moving one step closer to becoming law.

House Spends Evening Debating United Nations Takeover

Mar 14, 2013
United Nations

Cities and counties in Oklahoma would be prohibited from entering into any agreements with organizations accredited by the United Nations under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House.

The House on Wednesday voted 67-17 for the bill sponsored by Bethany Republican Rep. Sally Kern that targets Agenda 21, a plan developed by the United Nations to help cities and countries become more environmentally sustainable. No Republicans opposed the measure, which now heads to the Senate.

Lawmakers in both the state House and Senate are passing lots of bills ahead of a deadline Thursday. Legislation has to win approval in its chamber where it started to keep alive. This round-up from the Associated Press reflects many bills on their way to passage through Tuesday night and some that failed.

Topics include: abortion, prison worker pay, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, privatization of workers' compensation insurance, pay increases for special education teachers and more requirements for people running for office.

Abortion Restriction Bills Advance in House

Mar 13, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A pair of bills that make it more difficult for girls younger than 18 to have an abortion without notifying their parents have easily cleared the Oklahoma House.   The House on Tuesday approved the bills that would limit the ability of teenage girls to have a judge allow them to get an abortion without parental consent.

Abortion Restriction Bills Advance in House

Mar 13, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A pair of bills that make it more difficult for girls younger than 18 to have an abortion without notifying their parents have easily cleared the Oklahoma House. The House on Tuesday approved the bills that would limit the ability of teenage girls to have a judge allow them to get an abortion without parental consent.

Lawmakers Approve Another Tax Cut Bill

Mar 13, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A plan backed by Gov. Mary Fallin to slash the state's top personal income tax rate has cleared the Oklahoma House.

The House voted 65-30 Tuesday to cut the top rate to 5 percent from 5.25 percent, beginning Jan. 1. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The Senate approved a separate measure on Monday to cut the rate to 4.75 percent and offset much of the lost revenue with the elimination of various exemptions and deductions.

Pages