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Today you should know that an analysis of the Moore tornado debris revealed numerous code violations in the construction of school buildings that collapsed. The Oklahoma Senate passed a bond measure calling for $160 million to repair the state Capitol. OK Policy updated our Budget Trends and Outlook, summarizing key points you should know about the state budget.
The OK Policy Blog discussed the recently reauthorized farm bill and its forecasted effects in Oklahoma. More than 70 parents visited the Capitol Thursday to advocate for more education funding. Democratic members of the state Senate have chosen Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, to succeed Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, as the Senate minority leader. Bills that would make Oklahoma Highway Patrol dashboard camera videos public record and eliminate no-fault divorces were approved in House committees.
Lawmakers heard debate on an adoption reform bill that would require a biological father to appear in front of a judge to relinquish parental rights before an adoption could proceed. The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would require abortion providers to alert women whose fetuses have fatal conditions that hospice services are available as an alternative to abortion.
A Senate committee approved bills that would make it illegal to drive while operating a wireless device in a school zone or to send, read, or compose text messages while driving. Pennsylvania’s attorney general is investigating complaints that Chesapeake Energy committed fraud in the state by cheating landowners out of gas royalty payments. Former state House Speaker Todd Hiett announced he will run for an open seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The Number of the Day is the amount Governor Fallin’s proposed FY 2015 state budget is below the FY 2009 state budget, adjusted for inflation. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times shows how the Affordable Care Act is enabling more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
In The News
Deathtrap: Moore tornado debris reveals construction flaws, code violations
When the storm came, seven students in the Plaza Towers third-grade center sheltered in the hall. At Briarwood, the students and teachers thought the school building would protect them. Then the tornado hit, and the schools fell. Detailed in a soon-to-be-released report for the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Structural Engineering Institute, an analysis of the debris of the Briarwood Elementary School showed that several of the building’s steel roof beams were not attached to the walls, many of Briarwood’s cinder-block walls were not properly reinforced with steel rebar and large portions of the walls were not backfilled with concrete.
Capitol bond measure passes state Senate
The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday passed a measure that calls for up to $160 million in bonds to repair the crumbling state Capitol. Senate Bill 2044, by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. The measure passed by a vote of 36-11.
Budget Trends and Outlook – February 2014
Even as most states are enjoying budget surpluses, Oklahoma now faces faltering revenue collections and large budget shortfalls, which could lead to deeper cuts at a time when state agencies are still struggling to recover from the last downturn. Our Budget Trends and Outlook summarizes key points you should know.
Parents descend on Capitol to convince lawmakers to spend more on education
Kaylen Newbury and her 9-year-old daughter Natalie team up with more than 70 parents Thursday to take on lawmakers at the Capitol. “I’m Kaylen Newbury, I’m actually in your district. I live in Norman,” she said to Senator Rob Standridge at his office. The group of parents split up to track down their legislators in order to talk about one thing: education.
Not your father’s farm bill?
The long-awaited 2014 farm bill reauthorization was signed into law in early February. First passed in 1933 to ease the economic pain of the Great Depression, it now bundles dozens of federal agriculture and food programs into one piece of omnibus legislation. Since agriculture is a driving economic force in our state and thousands of Oklahomans struggle with food insecurity, this post outlines what you need to know about the new farm bill.
State senator from Norman named minority leader
Democratic members of the state Senate have chosen Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, to succeed Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, as the Senate minority leader. Burrage announced earlier this year he does not plan to seek re-election at the end of the current legislative session. Sparks will officially take over after the 2014 session, which ends in May.
Bill to make OHP dashcam videos public record gets House committee approval
A bill making Oklahoma Highway Patrol dashcam videos public record advanced from a House committee on Thursday with little discussion and no debate. Access to the video recordings have been a matter of some controversy in recent years, particularly after a 2009 altercation between trooper and a paramedic near Paden. OHP resisted release of the officer’s dashcam video, which at it turned out had recorded none of the encounter.
Oklahoma lawmakers hear debate on adoption reform bill
The last time these attorneys argued against each other, 4-year-old Baby Veronica went back to South Carolina. Several key players from both sides of that epic custody battle met again Thursday, not at a courthouse this time, but at the state Capitol to debate an adoption reform bill that some supporters call “Veronica’s Law.”
Oklahoma House Approves Bill On Infant Hospice Services
The Oklahoma House has approved legislation requiring abortion providers to notify women whose fetuses have fatal conditions that hospice services are available as an alternative to an abortion. The House voted 93-0 for the measure Thursday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
No Cell Phone Use In School Zones
An Oklahoma Senate panel has approved legislation that bans cell phone use in school zones across the state. The Senate Public Safety Committee passed the measure on Thursday and sent it to the full Senate for a vote. The measure makes it illegal for anyone operating a motor vehicle to use a wireless communications device in a school zone.
Bill to ban texting while driving advances
The Senate Public Safety Committee approved legislation Wednesday that could save hundreds of Oklahoma lives. Senate Bill 442, by Sen. Ron Sharp, would make it unlawful to compose, send or read a text message while driving.
Pa. attorney general investigating complaints against Chesapeake Energy
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office confirms it is looking into allegations of fraud against Pennsylvania’s biggest natural gas driller, Chesapeake Energy. First Deputy Attorney General Adrian King tells StateImpact Pennsylvania the office received letters last week from state senator Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) and Governor Corbett asking for an official inquiry into allegations the company is cheating landowners out of gas royalty payments.
Former House speaker to seek corporation commission seat
Former state House Speaker Todd Hiett intends to run for an open seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The Republican dairy farmer from Kellyville announced Thursday he would seek the seat being vacated by Patrice Douglas, who is running for Congress.
Quote of the Day
Nearly All Oklahoma Quakes Are Near Injection Wells, But So Is Most of the State
– headline of a StateImpact Oklahoma article discussing the ties between fracking and earthquakes in Oklahoma (source: http://n.pr/1dV6TuE)
Number of the Day
Amount Governor Fallin’s proposed FY 2015 state budget is below the FY 2009 state budget, adjusted for inflation.
Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute
How Obamacare Could Unlock Job Opportunities
During college, Lauren Braun worked at a health clinic in Peru, where she spent an inordinate amount of time tracking down mothers in an effort to get them to bring their children in for vaccinations. The experience was frustrating, but through it Braun came up with a business plan: Make silicone bracelets that function as punch cards, to remind mothers about upcoming appointments. Back in the United States, she consulted with mentors and perfected the idea, but then, she set it aside after graduation, going to work for a large health-insurance company, taking a salary and benefits over the uncertain life of an entrepreneur.
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