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Advocacy Alerts

Saturday, March 25

HB 2342 would supply an urgently-needed supplemental appropriation to the state Department of Human Services (DHS) to fund in-home care for elderly Oklahomans and Oklahomans with significant disabilities. Without this appropriation, DHS will be unable to pay these providers after April of this year, jeopardizing care for more than 25,000 vulnerable Oklahomans.

Where things stand (as of 03/24/17)

HB 2342 was introduced on March 21st. It is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) meeting on Monday, March 27 at 3pm.

What you can do

Please contact your Senators and House members and ask them to support the supplemental appropriation for DHS. You can look up your Senator and Representative here, call the House switchboard at 405-521-2711, and call the Senate switchboard at 405-524-0126. (more…)

Tuesday, March 21

HB 1270 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services to create redundant administrative burdens for SoonerCare (Medicaid) and SNAP (food stamps), the two largest safety net programs that serve hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, mostly children, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. This cookie-cutter legislation from a national advocacy group would impose significant costs on overburdened and underfunded state agencies. Our blog post on HB 1270 is available here.

Where Things Stand (as of 03/21/17)

HB 1270 was introduced as a shell bill (empty of substantive language). A committee substitute was introduced on Feb. 27th and immediately placed on the agenda of the House Rules committee for Tuesday, February 28th. The bill passed out of Rules on a 4-3 vote and is on the House agenda for 03/21. 

What You Can Do

Please contact your House member and urge him or her to Vote No on HB 1270. You can find your House member here, or call the House switchboard at (405) 521-2711. Identify yourself as a constituent. You can use the talking points below to help craft your message. If you or someone you know is helped by SoonerCare or SNAP, please share your story.

Please also consider calling or emailing the bill’s author, Rep. Elise Hall, and ask her not to move forward with HB 1270: 405-557-7403; elise.hall@okhouse.gov

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Sunday, March 19

Oklahoma’s budget situation keeps getting more desperate. The Legislature has a $715 million shortfall for next year’s budget compared to this year. Agency directors have been asked by the House budget chair to prepare scenarios for how to handle across-the-board cuts as great as 15 percent — and they are warning of “crippling” cuts to core services in public safety, health care, human services, and education, areas that are critical building blocks for security and opportunity in our communities. Rural areas and small towns could be especially hard hit by the possible closure of hospitals, nursing homes, regional universities, schools, and state parks.

Oklahoma has already made among the deepest cuts in the nation in state support for public schools. We’ve slashed funding for higher education at a time when a college degree is more important than ever. We’ve cut services for Oklahomans with mental illness and disabilities. Without supplemental funds, the Department of Human Services will run out of money in April for critical home- and community-based services for vulnerable seniors and individuals with disabilities. We cannot cut deeper! (more…)

Thursday, March 9

HB 1913 (Rep. Kannady/Sen, Leewright), the Oklahoma Small Loan Act, would create a new predatory loan product in Oklahoma, known as a Small Loan. These loans would allow interest to be charged at an annual rate of over 200 percent, which is four times more than what can be charged under current law. Like payday loans, these loans are designed to trap people in unaffordable debt.

Protecting consumers from dangerous financial products is a long-standing role of state government. HB 1913 would strike down existing rate caps and put the financial health of economically vulnerable Oklahomans at greater risk. There is simply no need in Oklahoma for another high-cost predatory loan product.

Where Things Stand (as of 3/25/17)

HB 1913 passed the House of Representatives on a 59-31 vote on March 13th. You can see how your Representative voted here.  The bill now moves to the Senate, where it has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee . The Senate will have between March 27th and April 13th to hear HB 1913 in committee.

What You Can Do

There are several things you can do to fight HB 1913. You can use the talking points below to help craft your message. If you or someone you know has been affected by high-cost loans, please share your story.

  1. Contact Senate Health and Human Services Committee chair Sen. Ervin Yen and ask that he not hear HB 1913 in committee.  yen@oksenate.gov   (405) 521-5543
  2. Contact Sen. James Leewright, the Senate author of HB 1913 and express your opposition to HB 1913.

Sen. Ervin Yen, Chair                                            yen@oksenate.gov                 (405) 521-5543

Sen. Rob Standridge, Vice Chair                       standridge@oksenate.gov      (405) 521-5535

Sen. Kim David                                                        david@oksenate.gov              (405) 521-5590

Sen. Kay Floyd                                                         floyd@oksenate.gov               (405) 521-5610

Sen. A J Griffin                                                         griffin@oksenate.gov             (405) 521-5628

Sen. Darcy Jech                                                       jech@oksenate.gov                (405) 521-5545

Sen. Greg McCortney                                             mccortney@oksenate.gov      (405) 521-5541

Sen. Anastasia Pittman                                        pittman@oksenate.gov          (405) 521-5531

Sen. Adam Pugh                                                     pugh@oksenate.gov               (405) 521-5622

Sen. Dave Rader                                                      rader@oksenate.gov              (405) 521-5620

Sen. Joseph Silk                                                       silk@oksenate.gov                  (405) 521-5614

Sen. Frank Simpson                                                simpson@oksenate.gov          (405) 521-5607

          3. Contact your own Senator to express your opposition to HB 1913.   You can find your Senator here. Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent.

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Wednesday, March 1

As a result of continued declines in state revenues, another cut to Oklahoma’s top income tax rate will not be triggered in 2018. However, unless legislators take action this year, the top income tax cut rate could kick in automatically as early as 2019, well before Oklahoma’s budget will have had a chance to stabilize.  After the steep funding cuts of recent years, legislators should halt this tax cut and make sure we have the revenues to do what Oklahomans expect from state services before going ahead with any further tax cuts.

Where Things Stand (as of 3/15)

Two bills that would fully repeal the next income tax cut  (SB 170) or delay it for several years (SB 130)  passed out of the Senate Appropriations and Budget committee with overwhelming bi-partisan margins.

SB 170 passed the full Senate 39-6 on March 13th (click here to find out how your Senator voted). SB 130 was initially defeated on a vote by the full Senate but then passed 34-8 on a motion to reconsider  (click here to find out how your Senator voted). Be sure to thank Senators for their support of these sensible measures to help change our fiscal direction!

What You Can Do

SB 170 and SB 130 will now move to the House of Representatives, where they will likely be assigned to the House Finance Appropriations subcommittee, which is chaired by the House author of SB 170, Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville).

Please reach out to your Representative and urge them to support SB 170 and SB 130. You can locate your Representative here.

In addition, please contact members of the House Finance subcommittee and encourage them to support measures to halt the next income tax cut:

Appropriations & Budget Finance Subcommittee

Rep. Earl Sears, Chair                   earl.sears@okhouse.gov                 (405) 557-7358

Rep. John Montgomery, Vice Chair    john.montgomery@okhouse.gov (405) 557-7374

Rep. Carol Bush                            Carol.Bush@okhouse.gov               (405) 557-7359

Rep. Randy McDaniel                  randy.mcdaniel@okhouse.gov       (405) 557-7409

Rep. Marcus McEntire                 Marcus.McEntire@okhouse.gov    (405) 557-7327

Rep. Weldon Watson                  weldon.watson@okhouse.gov       (405) 557-7330

Rep. Claudia Griffith                    claudia.griffith@okhouse.gov        (405) 557-7386

Rep. Collin Walke                        Collin.Walke@okhouse.gov            (405) 557-7335

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Thursday, February 23

Legislators have the opportunity this session to help ensure that Oklahomans convicted of crimes have a fair shot at rebuilding their lives. They need to hear that you support these efforts.

People convicted of crimes face enormous fines and fees that they often can’t pay, trapping them in a cycle of debt and incarceration. SB 689 would require that judges set monthly payments on that debt according to a defendant’s income, so that their families don’t have to choose between paying their court debt or buying groceries. It also waives court fines and fees for those who seek to better themselves through higher education or workforce training.

What You Can Do

SB 689 passed the Senate 42-3, and now moves on to the House. Thank you for your support!

Please call your Representative and ask them to support SB 689. You can find your legislator here.

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Wednesday, February 22

HB 2209 (Rep. Marcus McEntire – R. Duncan/Sen. AJ Griffin – R. Guthrie) is good legislation that would help promote better tax policy decisions in Oklahoma by ensuring that legislators and the public know more about who pays taxes and who would stand to gain or lose from proposed tax policy changes.

HB 2209 directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to prepare a tax incidence report that shows who will pay more or less taxes on any bill that increases, decreases, or redistributes income by more than $20 million, upon the request of the Chair of the committee to which the bill is assigned.

Where Things Stand (as of 3/15)

HB 2209 unanimously passed the full House on March 14th and now heads to the Senate. Thanks to all of you who contacted your House members about this bill! HB 2209 will likely be assigned to the Senate Finance Appropriations Committee, where it will need to be heard between March 27th and April 11th.

What You Should Do

  • Contact Senate Finance subcommittee chair Sen. Roger Thompson and encourage him to hear HB 2209 in committee:  thompson@oksenate.gov (405) 521-5588
  • Contact Senate author AJ Griffin and express your support for HB 2209: griffin@oksenate.gov (405) 521-5628
  • Contact your own Senator and express your support for HB 2209. You can find your Senator here. (more…)
Tuesday, February 21

Click here for our fact sheet on HB 1482.

Last year Oklahomans voted by a large margin to approve SQ 780, which changed drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors punishable by no more than 1 year in jail. Voters also approved SQ 781 to direct the savings from reduced incarceration into county mental health and addiction treatment. Oklahoma voters’ choice aligns with plentiful research and experience showing felony charges and incarceration are costly and ineffective at dealing with the problems created by drug abuse and addiction, and reducing felony charges would save lives and free up resources to address the real problem.

HB 1482 would ignore the evidence and the will of the voters by reinstating felony charges for drug possession across virtually all of Oklahoma City and Tulsa and large parts of the rest of the state. The bill claims to be aimed at protecting children, but the expansive definition it uses for drug possession “near children” would effectively nullify SQ 780. It also ignores that a parent or caregiver facing felony charges and incarceration can often be far more damaging to a child’s well-being than taking a smarter approach to substance abuse.

What You Can Do

HB 1482 has passed out of the House and heads to Senate committee next. Please find your Senators here and tell them to vote NO on HB 1482. (more…)

Monday, February 20

Even while policymakers scramble to find ways to address the state’s continued budget crisis, expanding tax credits that primarily benefit low- and moderate income working families and seniors should be part of the tax policy discussion. Lawmakers should undo last year’s cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as increase the Sales Tax Relief Credit.

Several bills were introduced this session that would expand tax credits for working families:

The bill to increase the Sales Tax Relief Credit, HB 1383, passed the House Finance subcommittee but was not heard by the full Appropriations and Budget Committee. None of the EITC bills were heard. These bills are dead for this session. However, there may still be a chance to include an increase in the Sales Tax Relief Credit or Earned Income Tax credit as part of the overall budget plan between legislative leaders and the Governor.

Please let your legislators know that you support strengthening working family tax credits as part of this year’s budget.

You can look up your Senator and Representative here, call the House switchboard at 405-521-2711, and call the Senate switchboard at 405-524-0126.

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Wednesday, February 15

Young Oklahomans (ages 18-29) vote less often than any other age group, and at among the lowest rates in the nation. SB 349 (Sen. David Holt – R. Oklahoma City) aims to boost voter turnout by young Oklahomans by allowing for 16 and 17-year olds who will turn 18 by the time of the next election to pre-register to vote.

Where Things Stand (as of 3/1/17)

SB 349 failed to pass the Senate Rules committee on Wednesday, March 1st and is dead for the remainder of the session. 

Talking Points

  • SB 349 would  allow for voter registration at already established points of contact for young people, such as during civics classes or when going to get a driver’s license.
  • An engaged and active electorate is critical to the health of our democracy. 
  • SB 349 would allow for young voters to become familiar with the process before turning 18, allowing them to make informed, calculated decisions. 
  • This is a non-partisan measure that will increase voter turnout across the board. 

You can look up your Senator and Representative here, call the House switchboard at 405-521-2711, and call the Senate switchboard at 405-524-0126.

See our Advocacy Toolkit page for more information and resources.

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