27 Feb

RELEASE: House Dem Caucus – House Committee Endorses Bills to Update HIV/AIDS Education

, Eliminate Artificial Grading ‘Floor’, Modify Financial Literacy Curriculum, Require Reports on Emergency Teaching Certificates and 4-Day School Weeks,

OKLAHOMA CITY (27 February 2017) – Public schools would be required to provide their students with up-to-date information about HIV and AIDS, and to adopt a specific grading policy that eliminates artificial “floors,” under measures endorsed Monday by the House Committee on Common Education.

The panel also gave “do pass” recommendations to a bill that would require the State Department of Education (SDE) to publish a detailed annual report on individuals who receive emergency teaching certificates, and to a bill that would require school districts that adopt four-day weeks to identify their goals.

In addition, the Common Education Committee approved a measure that would modify an area of instruction in financial literacy and that would impose a fee to underwrite the Passport to Financial Literacy Act.

  •      House Bill 1362 would instruct the SDE to publish an annual report about emergency teaching certificates.

The report would include the total number of certificates issued throughout the state, the school district and the specific school in which each of those teachers was assigned, the subject matter taught by each of those teachers, the total length of time in which the teacher taught under an emergency certificate, and demographic information, including student poverty levels, racial composition, and disability percentages at the specific school in which he/she was assigned.

Carolyn Thompson, chief of government affairs for the SDE, said the department already compiles this information but it’s not assembled in one unified report.

“We need to know where teachers who receive emergency certification are being placed,” Rep. Regina Goodwin, author of HB 1362, said earlier this year. “I want to know what kind of impact certified teachers have on student performance,” the Tulsa Democrat added.

Because of the rash of vacancies in teaching ranks across Oklahoma, the number of emergency certifications has skyrocketed: from 32 in the 2011-12 school year to 1,063 emergency certifications requested by 265 school districts during the 2015-16 school year, and 1,082 issued from July through December 2016, ledgers reflect. The SDE estimates more than 52,000 students are being taught by an emergency certified teacher.

The principal areas in which emergency certifications were issued the last two years were elementary education, early childhood education, mathematics and social studies. Applicants for certification must pass a test in their requested subject area(s).

The committee endorsed Goodwin’s bill unanimously, 15-0.

  •    HIV/AIDS prevention education materials would be updated, under House Bill 1538 by Rep. Emily Virgin.

The legislation would direct the SDE to develop or provide medically accurate resources for HIV and AIDS prevention education in conjunction with the State Health Department or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The information would continue to be presented at least once between grades 5 and 6, once “during the period from grade 7 through grade 9,” and at least once “during the period from grade 10 through grade 12.”

AIDS prevention education would specifically teach students that “participating in high-risk sexual activity, injection drug use or contact with contaminated blood products is now known to be the primary means for the transmission and contraction of HIV,” HB 1538 relates.

“Correctly using available prevention methods, including but not limited to barrier and medicinal methods, greatly decreases a person’s likelihood of transmitting or contracting HIV,” the bill states.

Further, the HIV and AIDS prevention education program “shall teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain means for the prevention of the spread or contraction of HIV through sexual contact,” the bill decrees.

“Some schools are teaching accurate information but some schools are not,” said Virgin, D-Norman.

According to the State Health Department, 317 HIV cases were newly diagnosed in Oklahoma in 2015; of those, 24% were also diagnosed with AIDS. Of the newly diagnosed HIV cases, 273 were males and 44 were females.

By the end of 2015 (the latest year for which complete data is available), 5,756 people in Oklahoma were living with HIV/AIDS, the State Health Department reported. Of that number, 3,073 were HIV cases and 2,683 were AIDS patients. Of the 10,120 cumulative cases diagnosed in Oklahoma, 43.1% were known to have died.

Oklahoma’s educational program about HIV/AIDS has not been updated since it was mandated in 1987, Virgin told the House committee.

  •   The bill passed on a 14-1 vote.
  •   Every school board would be directed by House Bill 1602 to adopt a grading policy for the district’s students that would include provisions for “the assignment of grades on class assignments, examinations and final class grades.”

The policy would require classroom teachers to assign a grade that “reflects the relative mastery of an assignment” by each student, and would allow a student “a reasonable opportunity” to make up or redo a class assignment or exam for which the student received a failing grade.

The policy would not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment “without regard to the quality of work” by that student. The bill’s author, Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, said that in some school districts some students refuse to do homework, but their teachers nevertheless are ordered by school administrators to give those students a grade of at least 50. HB 1602 would eliminate the “artificial floor,” Enns told the committee.

  •   His bill received a “do pass” recommendation on a 9-6 vote.
  •   The committee gave an overwhelming “do pass” recommendation to House Bill 1684, which would require any school district that adopts a four-day school week to submit a report to the State Department of Education that identifies “goals sought to be achieved,” the “intended educational and fiscal benefits” and the “anticipated impacts or outcomes” the plan will have in the school district. The report also would have to include “a discussion of any potential disadvantages that have been identified,” the bill stipulates.
  •   Personal financial literacy courses in public schools would include education about managing a bank account, rather than simply balancing a checkbook, House Bill 1694 provides.

Other areas of instruction include understanding interest, credit card debt, and online commerce; rights and responsibilities of renting/buying a home; savings and investing; planning for retirement; bankruptcy; banking and financial services; understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; loans and borrowing money, including predatory lending and payday loans; understanding insurance; identity fraud and theft; charitable giving; understanding the financial impact and consequences of gambling; earning an income; and understanding state and federal taxes.

Fulfilling the requirements for a personal financial literacy “passport” is a requisite for achieving a high school diploma in Oklahoma.

Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, school districts “shall provide instruction in personal financial literacy to students during grades 9 through 12,” HB 1694 mandates. Until then, the requirements for a financial literacy passport must be completed in grades 7 through 12.

HB 1694 would increase from 5¢ to $1 the fee assessed against each lender on every deferred deposit loan it issues. The legislation stipulates that 75¢ of the levy would be earmarked for a new Personal Financial Literacy Education Revolving Fund and the other 25¢ would be deposited in the Consumer Credit Counseling Revolving Fund.

The proceeds deposited in the financial literacy fund would be used by the SDE “for the purpose of developing and providing guidelines, materials, resources, including online curriculum, training and professional development of teachers in the area of personal financial literacy…”

The committee approved the proposal, 9-4.

All five bills are now eligible for placement on the House calendar for a floor vote by the entire House of Representatives.



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

25 Feb

2017 DNC Chair and Officer Elections: Perez New DNC Chair – Ellison New DNC Deputy Chair

2017 DNC Chair and Officer Elections: Perez New DNC Chair – Ellison New DNC Deputy Chair

The Democratic National Committee held their 2017 Winter Meeting this past week in Atlanta to elect DNC Officers. Tom Perez and Keith Ellison emerged as the favorites with first round voting results of 213.5 votes for Perez and 200 for Ellison. Second round voting results gave a win to Tom Perez with 235 votes and 200 votes for Keith Ellison.

Perez, former U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2013 to 2017, is the first Latino leader of the Democratic Party. He is the son of immigrant parents and has been a progressive advocate for workers, a community organizer, and union supporter. As a sign of unity, Perez’s first motion was to appoint Ellison as Deputy Chair:

“I would like to begin by making a motion, it is a motion that I have discussed with a good friend, and his name is Keith Ellison,” Perez said during his acceptance speech, announcing the appointment.

“Did I hear a second?” asked Perez.

“Second!” the DNC audience shouted.

Newly appointed DNC Deputy Chair, Keith Ellison, also an organizer and progressive advocate for the working class, spoke to DNC members about unifying the Party:

“We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided,” Ellison said.

Election of remaining officers followed the Chair elections. The new DNC Leadership is listed below:

  • Chair: Tom Perez, former U.S. Secretary of Labor under Barack Obama
  • Deputy Chair: Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative from Minnesota’s 5th congressional district
  • Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation: Karen Carter Peterson
  • Vice Chairs:
    • Michael Blake, New York Assemblyman
    • Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary–Treasurer of the AFL-CIO
    • Grace Meng, U.S. Representative from New York’s 6th congressional district
  • Treasurer: Bill Derrough
  • Secretary: Jason Rae
  • Finance Chair: Henry Muñoz III

Position of chair

The chair of the DNC is charged with carrying out the party’s policies and overseeing the Democratic National Convention. One of the main functions of the party chair is to raise money for the party and to direct where that money is spent in local, state, and federal races. The 2017 chair race is notable because it is the first contested chair race since 2005. When Democrats have controlled the White House, a Democratic president typically recommends a chair and the party members approve that choice. [1]

  1. Democratic National Committee, “Bylaws,” accessed February 8, 2017

24 Feb

RELEASE: House Minority Leader Scott Inman – Featured Guest on “The Hot Seat”

OKLAHOMA CITY (24 February 2017) – House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, will be the featured guest on “The Hot Seat” program this weekend.

Prompted by program moderator Scott Mitchell, Inman will discuss the $900 million state budget hole “and how we propose to climb out of it.” One partial solution that’s the subject of negotiations between the Democrats and Republican legislative and executive leaders is raising the oil/gas gross production tax from 2% to 4%.

“The Hot Seat” airs at 7:50 a.m. Saturdays on KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City. Afterward the program is streamed on the Internet, where it can be accessed at

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

24 Feb

RELEASE: House Dems Caucus – Tahlequah, OKC Legislators Oppose Measure which Poses a Threat To Autism Law that’s Been on Books for Barely Four Months

Tahlequah, OKC Legislators Oppose Measure which Poses a Threat

To Autism Law that’s Been on Books for Barely Four Months

OKLAHOMA CITY (24 February 2017) – It took at least four attempts in eight years before the state Legislature required insurance carriers – in a law that went into effect Nov. 1, 2016 – to provide coverage for autistic disorders. The victory may be short-lived, state Rep. Matt Meredith lamented Friday.

House Bill 1712 by Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, and Sen. Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow, would allow any “domestic insurer … transacting business in this state” to “offer a health benefit plan that does not contain one or more regulated health benefits.”

During debate on the measure in the House Committee on Insurance, Meredith, D-Tahlequah, asked, “What will this bill do to the autism bill that passed last year?”

Moore told Meredith that the bill the Legislature passed in 2016 would not be repealed, but services could be eliminated from insurance coverage options.

HB 1712 conveys the impression that legislators are “more concerned with the bottom line than what insurance will cover,” said Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City. Oklahomans “will be hurt by what we are doing in this committee today,” he warned.

Moore’s bill received a “do pass” recommendation from the Insurance Committee in a 6-4 vote Feb. 21 – Meredith, Stone, and Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, were among the opponents – and awaits a vote by the entire House of Representatives.

House Bill 1712 “would effectively undo the legislation which the Legislature passed last year, regardless of what Representative Moore told me,” said Meredith, D-Tahlequah.

House Bill 2962, by then-Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, requires insurance coverage for autistic disorders. The bill passed both the House and the Senate in split votes last year and was signed into law by the governor. Moore, chairman of the House Insurance Committee, and Brown, a retired insurance agent, both opposed HB 2962.

Meredith’s predecessor in House District 4, then-Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, introduced three bills during his tenure (HB 1312 in 2009, HB 1624 in 2010, and HB 2529 in 2012) in efforts to make insurance coverage for autistic disorders compulsory, but all three measures died. In fact, Moore made the “do not pass” motion in 2009 that killed Brown’s HB 1312 in the House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services, the House Journal shows.

Meredith, who manages his family’s insurance agencies in Tahlequah and Muskogee, voted against Moore’s HB 1712 and vowed to oppose the measure if it is brought to the House floor for a vote.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There are many types of autism, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.



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

22 Feb

Celebrating Angela Monson’s Achievements – Black History Month

Celebrating Angela Monson’s Achievements – Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, the Oklahoma Democratic Party celebrates the achievements of Angela Monson, the first African-American woman assistant majority floor leader in the Oklahoma legislature.

After graduating from Oklahoma City University with a degree in criminal justice, Monson went on to earn her Masters of Science in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. She also worked for the Oklahoma Department of Correction in Shawnee and as a traveling city manager in Oklahoma before pursuing a career in politics.

Monson was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 for District 99 and served as an Oklahoma Senator for District 48 from 1993 to 2005. In 2003 Monson became the first African-American woman to fill the role of assistant majority floor leader in the Oklahoma legislature. She also served on numerous committees to include Chair of Education, Chair of Finance, Chair of the Appropriations Sub-committee on Group Health and Employee Benefits, and Appropriations, and Vice-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Health and Social Services.

Largely involved with the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, Monson sponsored many health care bills and was nationally recognized for her involvement with the Mental Health Parity Act. After serving in the Senate, Monson began her work as the Director of Health Policy Development and Analysis for the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center and is a member of the OU Medical Center board of trustees. She has been recognized as Legislator and Woman of the Year in Government and received the Silver Banner Award from the Tuscan government, Kate Barnard Award, and Friends of Children Award.