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2018 Oklahoma Legislative Session

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned onThursday night, ending its yearly session three weeks before the constitutional deadline on May 25.  

After two special sessions left over from last year’s budget woes, a teacher protest that lasted almost two weeks and more than a year of struggling to find funds for state services, lawmakers passed a $7.6 billion dollar state budget in April, the largest in state history.  Here’s a few more of state lawmakers’ accomplishments this year.

 

Teacher Pay Raise:

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Before adjourning the 2018 Legislative Session on May 3, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a number of bills that could face legal challenges or vetoes from Gov. Mary Fallin.

 

 


Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1140, a bill allowing private adoption agencies that contract with the state to act in accordance with their “written religious or moral convictions or policies.” The bill includes language prohibiting the agencies from violating federal and state law, but it’s unlikely to evade legal challenges, according to eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley.

 

Jim Arterburn

Representative Kevin Wallace suggested as little as 1 percent of the state budget remains to be negotiated as lawmakers eye the end of the 2018 legislative session on May 25. That’s according to eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley.

 

 

Ashley says state agencies will most likely see flat budgets. State revenue has increased due to economic growth and revenue generating measures from previous sessions, giving lawmakers more money to appropriate. And lawmakers have already dealt with many of the biggest budget items, like public education.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

A controversial proposal to end a tax break that benefits fewer than 18,000 Oklahomans – the vast majority of whom make upwards of $200,000 – is at the center of the debate over how lawmakers can find more money for education and potentially end the teacher walkout.

Teachers, education advocates and House Democrats have launched a renewed push since the teacher work stoppage began on Monday for the Legislature to pass a bill that would eliminate the state’s capital gains deduction.

Gov. Mary Fallin signs a teacher pay raise into law on Thursday, March 29, 2018.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin signed a teacher pay raise into law on Thursday, giving educators their first state-funded salary boost in 10 years. On average, they’ll get about $6,000, but many of them are still walking out of their classrooms on Monday.

Mark Webb, a science teacher at Mustang High School, is one of them. He says he appreciates the pay raise but he still wants more money for the classroom.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Capitol Insider: Another Teacher Salary Plan, But No Way To Pay For It

Mar 16, 2018
Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Oklahoma lawmakers are searching for more ways to raise revenue as spring break begins and a teacher walkout looms on the horizon.

Oklahoma Watch

A threatened teacher walkout in early April casts a shadow over the legislative session and could disrupt the lives of parents, children, educators and many others should it go on for days or weeks.

State employees also are planning a multi-agency work stoppage on April 2, which would widen and deepen the impact.

Interviews Show Teachers On A Collision Course With Unwavering Lawmakers

Mar 9, 2018
Jennifer Palmer / Oklahoma Watch

It became official Thursday: The largest, most organized voice for Oklahoma teachers issued an ultimatum to legislators that teachers will shut down much of Oklahoma’s public-school system indefinitely unless serious money is found to boost teacher pay and education funding.

President of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, says teachers are frustrated with lawmakers for not doing their jobs.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the first public press conference since talk of a statewide teacher walkout began, the largest Oklahoma teachers union laid out its demands for the state legislature.

The demands include:

Oklahoma teachers rallied in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan on February 12, 2018. The plan would have provided $5,000 teacher pay raises, but failed in the House.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, says it will announce the details of a statewide teacher walkout on Thursday.

Alicia Priest, the president of the OEA, says years of failed attempts by the legislature to increase education funding and teacher pay have forced the organization to consider the walkout.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday announced a compromise between district attorneys and Republican lawmakers on six bills they say will reduce Oklahoma’s prison population while maintaining public safety.

One criminal justice reform advocacy group is criticizing the timing of the announcement because the bills’ language still hasn’t been made public.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A dispute between Oklahoma and federal agencies over relatively high payments for hundreds of doctors who treat Medicaid patients is a key reason state taxpayers are on the hook for $140 million in emergency funds for the state’s two medical schools, records obtained by Oklahoma Watch show.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

The Oklahoma House of Representatives announced on Tuesday that it will choose one chaplain to lead its daily invocations for the rest of the legislative session.  

Step Up Campaign Highlights Gap In State Disclosure Laws

Feb 22, 2018
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

The Step Up Oklahoma plan to raise taxes on cigarettes, fuel and energy failed to pass, but it highlighted a gap in state campaign finance laws that keeps much of the funding and spending on both sides of the issue a secret.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After getting concessions, a group of small independent oil and gas producers is now endorsing a suite of tax increases and government reforms written by a group of business leaders known as the Step Up Oklahoma plan.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her final State of the State address at the Oklahoma Capitol on Feb. 6, 2018.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

FULL TRANSCRIPT: 

Gov. Mary Fallin: Thank you very much. Lieutenant Gov. Lamb, statewide elected officials, Speaker [Charles] McCall, President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, members of the court, honorable senators and representatives, cabinet members, statewide elected officials, and our tribal leaders that have joined us here today, and most of all, the great citizens of Oklahoma – welcome. It’s good-- to have you all here.

Superintendent of Blanchard Public Schools, Jim Beckham, says if schools used property taxes for teacher pay, there’d be big inequities from district to district.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have butted heads for years over how to increase funding for education, but one recurring idea has been to give schools more flexibility in spending the money they already have.

 

A new bill filed by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, is the most recent attempt to do this.

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

With the start of the 2018 legislative session eight days away, lawmakers have submitted a flurry of proposals related to education.

They range from the expected — proposed salary boosts and other financial compensation for teachers — to the unexpected, like bills to allow schools to sell and place ads on school buses and to permit students to apply their own sunscreen.

The intent of many other proposals is still unknown, as many education-related bills were submitted as “shell bills,” written with no substantive text and to be amended later.

A billboard for TSET’s Shape Your Future wellness campaign sits along an Oklahoma City highway. Shape Your Future is one of the agency’s advertising efforts to decrease smoking and obesity, and make Oklahomans healthier.
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

With another sizable budget shortfall looming, and state agencies pleading for help, some Oklahoma lawmakers are turning hungrily to one of the state’s biggest heaps of public cash.

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