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Jun 1, 2023
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Gann, Rick West Call for Constitutional Amendment to Budget Process

OKLAHOMA CITY – In reaction to this year's nearly $13 billion general appropriations' bill, State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Rick West, R-Heavener, have proposed capping future legislative appropriations, retaining only what is necessary to be responsible in savings for a rainy day and sending back to the taxpayer any excess funds. “We are fiduciaries of tax payer dollars not investment advisors," Gann said. "Regrettably, lawmakers have demonstrated repeatedly through massive spending increases over recent years that they are unable to resist the temptation. It's time for the people of Oklahoma to intervene with the Legislature." West expressed his disappointment that Oklahoma's rampant spending has caught national attention. "These actions do not reflect the values of Oklahomans," West said. "We are a conservative people who believe in the wisdom of limited government and controlled spending. What we are witnessing now is unrestrained spending that will prove destructive as the economy cycles into the next downturn. These are the values of California or New York – not Oklahoma!" West further noted that the extensive spending is particularly terrible during a period when many Oklahomans are grappling with inflation driven by government spending. "While numerous Oklahoma families are forced to tighten their belts, Oklahoma lawmakers have the audacity to insist on significant increases in their own budgets." Gann further warned, "In the event of the next economic downturn, revenues will decline while the Legislature's extravagant spending persists. This means not only will there be no meaningful tax reduction, but there will be tremendous pressure on the Legislature to revert to the days of tax hikes to avoid reducing their new spending levels." HJR1001X is available for consideration during the current legislative special session. If successful, the people of Oklahoma would be able to vote on the plan next year.



May 31, 2023
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STATEMENT: McCall Comments on OK Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today released a statement following Wednesday's ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which found Senate Bill 1503 and House Bill 4327 unconstitutional.  “I am disappointed with today’s ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court regarding SB1503 and HB4327. A supermajority of members in both chambers supported this legislation that was signed by the governor. However, Oklahomans can rest assured that House Republicans will continue to protect the lives of the unborn and pursue legislation that values all life. Thanks to the leadership of House and Senate Republicans, Oklahoma is one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Today’s ruling won’t change that, and we will continue to be a voice for the voiceless as we strive to protect the right to life in the State of Oklahoma.”



May 26, 2023
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House Approves $12.8B State Budget

The Oklahoma House of Representatives today approved the final appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1, fulfilling their constitutional duty to pass a balanced budget. The FY24 legislatively-appropriated budget is $12,866,390,628. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said the budget includes a historic investment into K-12 education, the largest increase to higher education in recent history, six weeks of paid maternity leave for both teachers and state employees, savings from criminal justice reform to community mental health efforts, a new family caregiver tax credit, additional funding for home-based services for developmentally disabled individuals and hundreds of millions into affordable housing programs. "House Republicans started session with a to-do list we received from our constituents, and this state budget includes many of the issues we prioritized," McCall said. "This forward-thinking, innovative budget is a testament to the dedication of House Republicans to building a flourishing state for every current and future Oklahoman while also committing to fiscal responsibility by maintaining healthy state reserves. I commend Chairman Wallace, Vice Chairman Martinez, our subcommittee chairs and every member of the House for their diligent work on budget throughout session." House Appropriations & Budget Chair Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, said the budget makes a remarkable impact in numerous areas of priority. "This budget is historic on a number of fronts," Wallace said. "We've increased education funding by 21.5%, giving teachers another large pay raise, and supporting classroom learning and school safety. We've included more funding for affordable housing, health care and the Rural Economic Transportation Reliability and Optimization Fund as well as many other services to benefit all Oklahomans. We have economic incentives that will bring more investment and thousands of jobs to our state. Our agencies will have the discretion of boosting state employee pay. We're protecting state assets and lowering our debt financing going forward through our Legacy Capital Financing Fund. "I'm just enormously proud of the work of each person involved in this package, from the Speaker of the House to Vice Chairman Martinez to the members who chair and serve on our Appropriations & Budget subcommittees to our fiscal staff who have worked countless hours to draft a plan that will improve the lives of all Oklahomans in a number of positive ways." House A&B Committee Vice Chair Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, said the budget agreement follows months of discussion. "This excellent budget is an investment in the people and the future of Oklahoma," Martinez said. "It is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by numerous legislators who took input from their constituents and turned that into a product that not only takes care of the needs of millions of Oklahomans but shows fiscal restraint and fiscal responsibility." The legislatively appropriated budget takes months to prepare. It is based on input received throughout dozens of public legislative budget hearings, hundreds of publicly-available agency budget requests, the governor's executive budget proposal introduced at the beginning of session, and the requests and input of all elected representatives, who each serve on standing budget committees and subcommittees. The largest area of the budget continues to be education, at $5.65 billion, or 43.9%. Public K-12 schools continue to be funded at the highest level in state history, $3.97 billion. Higher education receives just over $1 billion, including a $130 million, or 14.9%, state appropriation increase, the largest increase to colleges and universities in recent history. Health remains the second largest area of investment at 18.2% of the budget for a total of $2.34 billion. Human services receives the third largest apportionment, with 7.1%, or $909 million. Transportation and public safety make up 6.3% and 5.7%, respectively, of the state budget. The budget agreement is contained in House Bill 1004X, the general appropriations bill, and several other House and Senate bills passed off the House floor this week. Budget bills were approved in the First Extraordinary Session of the 59th Legislature, which runs concurrently with the regular session, which concluded Sine Die on Friday, May 26. Since budget bills were approved in the First Extraordinary Session, legislators have the option of reconvening at a later date to consider any veto overrides.



May 25, 2023
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STATEMENT: Talley Comments on New Oil Refinery in Cushing

Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, today commented on the news that Southern Rock Energy Partners (SREP) has selected Cushing as the site for a $5.6 billion refinery in Cushing. "The creation of this refinery is a generational gamechanger for Cushing and the surrounding north central Oklahoma community. The economic impact of Southern Rock Energy Partner's new refinery is the most significant development in Cushing's recent history, and I look forward to seeing the future of SREP in Oklahoma. For the past two years, I've worked with the leaders at the Cushing Economic Development Foundation and the City of Cushing to secure this investment, and I want to thank them for their diligent work and support as we deliver for our community." The 250,000 b/d crude refinery will process domestically produced light, sweet shale (WTL and WTC) and light, sweet crudes (WTI) into low carbon transportation fuels by utilizing advanced technologies with a zero-carbon footprint. The refinery project will generate and consume hydrogen as a fuel source, capture and sequester carbon dioxide emissions, generate and consume electricity from waste heat, geothermal, and renewable assets, produce water from waste vapor streams, and recycle and repurpose wastewater. As a result, 95% of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced or eliminated, water production and consumption will be reduced by 90% with 80% being recycled and repurposed, 100% renewable electricity will be consumed, 98% of fugitive emissions will be eliminated, and the land footprint will be reduced by 65%. Cushing, known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World” for crude oil, is home to approximately 100 million barrels of storage in the tank farms surrounding the community. The project, announced Wednesday, is anticipated to create over 400 full-time jobs. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 and operations are expected to begin in 2027.



May 19, 2023
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Farm Driving Permit Signed into Law

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, this week thanked the governor for signing into law a bill that will allow teens as young as 14 years old who live or work on a family farm to be eligible for a driving permit to go directly to or from home, work or school. House Bill 1962 becomes effective Nov. 1, which will allow Service Oklahoma time to prepare the new permit. "Those who run family farms work from dawn to dusk to raise food and other crops to provide for families across the nation," Newton said. "Allowing these responsible teens to be a more effective part in meeting the needs on the farm by using their driving skills in work around the farm or driving to school will be a major benefit for family farms. I've already heard from a number of constituents that this will help them tremendously, and I'm very pleased to be able to offer them this added benefit."  Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, was the principal Senate author of the bill. “Many children from rural communities begin working on their family farm at a very young age," Jech said. "By the time they are teenagers, they are well-versed in agricultural practices and ready to take on larger roles on the operation. The farm permits and licenses available under House Bill 1962 will aid these teens in their work on their own farms and ranches, as well as make it easier for them to work at other local operations. I’d like to extend my appreciation to Representative Newton for his work on this legislation, as well as Governor Stitt supporting our state’s young agriculturists and entrepreneurs by signing it into law." Newton pointed out the neighboring state of Kansas has had this legislation in place for over 60 years and has found it beneficial. Newton also issued the reminder to teens that this is a special permit to help their farm families. It is a privilege that comes with responsibility. Applicants must pass all driving requirements as any other licensed driver. The measure also specifies restrictions for teens operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a farm permit as well as penalties for those who violate the terms of the new law, including the potential revocation of their driving privileges.



May 19, 2023
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Rep. Tedford Named 2023 GOPAC Emerging Leader

OKLAHOMA CITY –  Rep. Mark Tedford, R-Tulsa, has been announced as one of the 28 legislators from across the nation selected to GOPAC's 2023 class of Emerging Leaders. Legislators were nominated by legislative leaders in their states. They were selected because each has demonstrated promise in positively impacting their state and rising within the Republican ranks, according to GOPAC. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, nominated Tedford. "I want to thank Speaker McCall for nominating me and for his confidence in my abilities," Tedford said. "It is such an honor to be included in this class of distinguished legislators from all over the country. I look forward to meeting my fellow class members and collaborating on new approaches to policy issues.” McCall said he nominated Tedford for his commitment to conservative values and history of successfully running a business. "I was proud to nominate Rep. Tedford for this distinguished recognition," McCall said. "He has demonstrated a strong commitment to conservative values during his first session in the Legislature. As an experienced businessman and active community member, he understands the issues that matter to his constituents and he will be an asset to the Emerging Leaders Program." In the House, Tedford serves as vice chair of the Insurance Committee and is on the Business and Commerce and Common Education Committees. He is also a member of the A&B Education Subcommittee. The GOPAC Emerging Leaders Program is a year-long initiative to educate the next generation of Republican legislators. The program equips legislators with information to help them legislate more effectively and ultimately achieve leadership roles within their state or run for higher office. “Our 2023 class of Emerging Leaders is the next installment in our mission to build a roster of state Republicans who are focused on ideas to advance Americans’ personal and economic security,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella. "Whether it is leading in their state legislative chamber or running for higher office in the future, we welcome being part of their development and success."



May 19, 2023
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Legislature Sends Historic Education Package to Governor

The Legislature today gave final passage to a set of bills directing a historic investment into public education.  Senate Bill 1119 provides longevity-based pay raises for all certified staff, ranging from a $3,000 increase for teachers with 0-4 years' experience; $4,000 for 5 to 9 years; $5,000 for 10-14 years; and $6,000 for teachers employed 15 years or more.  Senate Bill 1121 provides six weeks' paid maternity leave for teachers employed for at least a year.  House Bill 2901 appropriates a recurring $500 million to the school funding formula to cover costs associated with SB1119 and SB1121.  Senate Bill 1120 directs $125 million to the Redbud Fund to address property tax revenue disparities in districts with lower ad valorem bases to help meet basic infrastructure and maintenance needs.  Senate Bill 1118 creates a three-year literacy instructional team within the State Dept. of Education to assist school districts. The team will have five regional locations across the state and will help teachers recognize educational needs of students, with an additional emphasis on students who have dyslexia. The program is funded through a one-time appropriation of $10 million.  House Bill 2903 creates a three-year school safety pilot program to provide every district with a school resource officer or security upgrades.  House Bill 2904 provides a one-time appropriation of $150 million toward HB2903. Each school district will receive approximately $96,000 annually throughout the three-year program.  Each bill passed both chambers overwhelmingly, with final votes delivered Friday, May 18. They now move to the governor's desk for consideration and, if signed into law, would take effect in Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1, 2023.  ---  "Every year, our constituents tell us they want to see additional investments into public education, and thanks to thoughtful budgeting, we have been able to direct historic levels of new money into our public schools this year. With the implementation of this year's education plan, the Legislature will have invested more funding into public education in the past five years than in the previous 27 years combined. I'm proud of the work we have done to provide more resources and flexibility to every student, every parent, every teacher and every school district in the state."  – House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka  “Negotiations were tough and combative at times but I value the transformative product that came out of the process. We are making historic investments in public education, giving meaningful teacher pay raises, delivering maternity leave, making critical investments for school safety, and delivering choice for kids and parents in Oklahoma. I want to sincerely thank Senators Pugh, Pemberton, and McCortney for the months of work that went into this. Also, I want to thank Justice Steven Taylor for directing the negotiations in a productive fashion. Finally, I want to thank all 40 members of my caucus who gave incredibly meaningful input to improve the legislation.” – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City "Each year I have served in the House of Representatives, we have worked to pass historic education funding. This year's plan surpasses them all. We've secured $625 million in new recurring funding for our public schools and another $160 million to go toward literacy and school safety efforts. Under this plan, every certified teacher in the state will get thousands of extra dollars in their paychecks aligning with their years of service to students in their classrooms. I am so proud of our efforts to support public education with our actions and our resources."  – House Common Education Chair and former teacher Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon  "Oklahoma public school teachers prepare hundreds of thousands of students each year to succeed in life and work after high school. This strengthens our communities and Oklahoma's economy. This package gives these teachers the largest pay raise in state history, showing them our confidence and appreciation for the job they do. It also appropriates historic amounts of funding to our classrooms, and ensures rural, suburban and urban schools can thrive. At the same time, we've given parents, a.k.a. taxpayers, some control over their own income so they have more educational choices. We accomplished this in a way that doesn't touch public school funding. In fact, we've worked to make our public education budget the biggest and best in our state's history. Of that, I'm enormously pleased."  – House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Education Chair Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore “Many of these reforms came from hours of discussions with hundreds of teachers, administrators, parents and education advocacy groups. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly on these measures and the end result will be improvements to our public education system and historic pay raises for teachers. These measures will keep us competitive with other states, while improving our ability to recruit and retain teachers. I appreciate everyone’s hard work on these valuable pieces of legislation.”  – Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond  “I applaud the hard work and dedication by the negotiators in both the House and Senate, who met repeatedly for many hours to get to the finish line on the education plan. This slate of bills will have a positive, lasting impact on our education system in Oklahoma. As a retired educator, I am grateful to be part of this historic funding package that helps rural and urban schools, parents, teachers and provides needed safety measures to ensure our students are kept safe.”  – former teacher Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee 



May 19, 2023
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ARPA Funds to Benefit Ronald McDonald House, Bethany Children's Center

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Majority Leader Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City, today commented on the awarding of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will go to local nonprofits to provide long-term housing or care facilities for children and their families. The House and Senate this week passed House Bill 2943, which appropriates $4 million to Ronald McDonald House Charities for construction of a new home to be located by Mercy Hospital in north Oklahoma City, and $2 million to the Bethany Children's Health Center for the renovation of the center's complex care units, which are 25 years old.  "Both of these organizations do an amazing job of caring for children who have very complex health care needs as well as for their families who need to stay nearby to be involved in their care and offer loving support," West said. "It was such an honor to help secure this necessary funding that I know will greatly help relieve the burden these young patients and their loved ones face." Ronald McDonald House Charities provides temporary housing and a place to rest and regroup for Oklahoma families who have a seriously ill or injured child hospitalized in the Oklahoma City area. This keeps families and children close to each other and the care and resources they need. The Bethany Children's Health Center provides pediatric rehabilitation and 24-hour inpatient and out-patient complex care for children and is the only inpatient pediatric rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma. The multidisciplinary team at the center works with patients and their families to maximize every child’s potential, and ensure the family has the training and resources needed for a smooth transition from hospital to home. HB2943 now moves to the governor for his consideration of signing it into law. Rep. West carried the bill on the House floor. 



May 18, 2023
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School Safety Pilot Program Passes House

Legislation creating a school safety pilot program passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday. House Bill 2903 creates the School Resource Officer Program, a three-year pilot program to provide every district with a school resource officer or security upgrades. House Bill 2904 funds the program and directs approximately $96,000 to each Oklahoma public school district. Both bills were presented on the House floor by Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber. "Parents want their children to be safe at school and progress in their education," Lowe said. "These two bills represent a tremendous investment in school safety for school districts of all sizes." Under HB2903, School Resource Officers (SROs) participating in the program must complete active shooter emergency response training provided by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET). The bill also establishes a School Security Revolving Fund and allows the State Department of Education to distribute up to $50 million per year, totaling a $150 million investment over the three-year program. HB2903 passed the House 90-9 and HB2904 passed 98-1. Both bills now move to the Senate for consideration.