26 Apr

RELEASE: Payne County Legislator/Attorney Opposes Fee Hike

Payne County Legislator/Attorney Opposes Fee Hike

State Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, debated Wednesday against Senate Bill 38, which would increase a fee that a court is empowered to assess against anyone convicted of any offense, including traffic infractions but excluding parking and standing violations, that can be punished by a fine of $10 or more or by incarceration.

The Forensic Science Improvement Assessment would be doubled by SB 38: from $5 to $10.

The bill narrowly passed the House, 52-32, and the Senate, 26-19, and is en route to the governor’s desk. In the House the bill was endorsed by 51 Republicans and 1 Democrat, and was opposed by 19 Democrats and 13 Republicans; 14 Representatives were absent when the vote was taken.



Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

26 Apr

RELEASE: DNC Trump’s Education EO Deserves an “F”

Trump’s Education EO Deserves an “F”

As President Trump prepares to sign an executive order on education, DNC deputy communications director Adrienne Watson released the following statement:

“Trump isn’t signing an executive order to actually improve education for American students, but instead to put a fake point on the board within his first 100 days. So far, Trump and his administration’s actions have harmed students rather than helped. Trump rolled back protections for student loan borrowers and nominated a Secretary of Education with no experience in public education whatsoever. Plus, his plan to privatize public education leaves rural schools out in the cold. When it comes to Trump’s 100 Day test, it’s clear that he deserves a failing grade.”


25 Apr

Legislature Clears Tulsa Race Riot Measure

Tulsa Race Riot Measure Clears Legislature Unopposed

OKLAHOMA CITY (25 April 2017) — Legislation that would create a special fund for commemoration of the Tulsa Race Riot has cleared the Legislature with no opposition, and will be sent to the Governor.

Senate Bill 17 was endorsed unanimously Tuesday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, 81-0.  The bill previously passed the Senate, 39-0. Authors of the measure were Rep.

Monroe Nichols and Sen. Kevin Matthews, both Tulsa Democrats.

When SB 17 was brought to the House floor for consideration Tuesday, Nichols explained that the bill would create a Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Memorial Revolving Fund for use by the state Historical Society to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 race riot.

During the uprising, a white mob nearly destroyed the entire 35-block Greenwood District, a thriving sector of north Tulsa. The American Red Cross reported that 300 people died in the riot and more than 800 others were hospitalized.

21 Apr

RELEASE: DNC Chair Tom Perez Statement on Women’s Fundamental Rights

Perez on Women’s Fundamental Rights

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement on the DNC’s strong belief in securing reproductive health, justice, and rights for all.

“Democrats trust women to make their own decisions. Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state. That is why I will be convening women leaders from across the country in the next week on how we can make sure our Democratic candidates and elected leaders are living up to these fundamental values.

“Whatever one’s personal beliefs about choice, no government should legislate them onto others. That is a fundamental principle Democrats of all backgrounds have always fought for, and we will continue to do so at local and national levels. At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country, we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.

“I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello’s personal beliefs about women’s reproductive health. It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party’s position on women’s fundamental rights. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same, because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period.”

19 Apr

OICA CEO Joe Dorman Suspending Young Children from School Would be Disastrous for Them and Society

Suspending Young Children from School Would be Disastrous for Them and Society

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman

With a $900 million budget shortfall dominating this year’s legislative session, many lawmakers are looking to balance the budget by cutting government spending. As advocates for children, our job at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is to shield Oklahoma’s youngest and most vulnerable residents from any “cost-cutting” measures that would adversely impact them and, in some cases, negatively change the trajectory of their entire lives.
One of those measures is Senate Bill 81, which seeks to lower the grade level at which a student can be suspended from school. Currently, out-of-school suspension is permissible only at the sixth grade level and above. SB 81 would allow children as early as third grade (only 8 or 9 years old) to be suspended. In addition, the bill would reduce the requirements for counseling programs available to these children, who are the ones who need it the most.
If you’re pinching pennies, this bill helps save money by kicking young kids out of class, reducing their services, and getting the state off the hook for paying to educate and counsel them.

If, however, you are trying to educate a generation of children to become productive adults, it undermines that goal in almost every way. In fact, in the long term, it will probably also cost the state more money, fueling the “school to prison pipeline,” as children who can’t make it in school turn to antisocial behavior and crime. It will also negatively impact children with special needs and children of color.

Senate Bill 81 allows children to be suspended from school and sent home for up to two semesters at a pivotal time in their education, when they need to be learning foundational skills that will have lifelong importance. The third grade has been documented as a critical school year for a child’s academic success or failure. This is the year children are required to pass the state-mandated reading proficiency test. If the test is not passed, a student is required to repeat the third grade. Suspending a child during or right before this critical year vastly undermines their chances to develop the skills they need to pass this test.

Furthermore, children forced out of school for disruptive behavior may be sent back to the source of their stress, trauma, and unhappiness. Children who act out are often reacting to negative influences in their home environment. Stigmatized and failing academically, these children are far less likely to graduate high school, and high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers. Oklahoma voters just passed sweeping criminal justice reforms at the ballot box; this bill is likely to undermine the success of those changes.

Students with disabilities also have a lot to lose. These students are twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension as non-disabled students, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. Children most vulnerable to suspension, those who act out and misbehave in class, often have learning disabilities and emotional or mental health needs. The only way to help these students prepare for an independent life is to provide them opportunities through education.

There ARE solutions to early behavioral issues that help children; suspension isn’t one of them. Please share that message with your legislator and ask them to vote “no” on SB 81.