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24 Feb
0

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Moore told Meredith that the bill the Legislature passed in 2016 would not be repealed, but services could be eliminated from insurance coverage options.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

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

22 Feb
0

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.

22 Feb
0

RELEASE: DNC Chair Statement on White House Rollback of Transgender Protections

DNC Chair Statement on White House Rollback of Transgender Protections

WASHINGTON – DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile released the following statement:

“It’s clear that the most extreme elements of this administration are in total control. There is no group, no matter how vulnerable, that they won’t target, and absolutely no Republican official who can stop them is lifting a finger to do so. Secretary Betsy DeVos and others in the Trump administration know transgender kids are at increased risk of bullying and suicide, and yet she and this entire administration signed off on this shameful action anyway. This isn’t politics, it’s disgusting violence that targets the most vulnerable members of our society.”

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22 Feb
0

RELEASE: House Dems Caucus – 2 Patriotic Bills Approved by House Committees, Third Scheduled for Consideration Thursday

2 Patriotic Bills Approved by House Committees, Third Scheduled for Consideration Thursday

OKLAHOMA CITY (22 February 2017) – Patriotism is in full bloom at the State Capitol, embodied in three pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 1337, the “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act,” would ensure that Old Glory can wave unfettered throughout Oklahoma.

The bill, by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, would imprint in state statutes a prohibition against any policy or agreement that would restrict or prevent a member of a residential association from displaying the U.S. flag at “a reasonable height” of no more than 20 feet, on property within the association. The bill expressly refers to an owners association, condominium association, cooperative association or residential real estate management association.

HB 1337 breezed through the House Committee on Business, Commerce and Tourism, 13-0, Wednesday; it was supported by five Democrats and eight Republicans.

Hoskin, D-Vinita, said his measure was prompted by a former Texan who moved to Grand Lake. The man told Hoskin that while in the Lone Star State he lived in a neighborhood that had a homeowners’ association which forbade him from flying the American flag. The ex-Texan asked Hoskin whether Oklahoma safeguards a homeowner’s freedom to fly the flag.

Hoskin, a U.S. Navy veteran, scoured the statutes, and HB 1337 is a result of that search.

The bill is identical to one Hoskin introduced last year which passed the House of Representatives, 91-0, but died in the Senate without receiving a floor vote.

“The truly remarkable thing is that a bill of this type would even be needed in this nation,” Hoskin said.

House Bill 2192 by Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, would expand the list of monuments accepted for placement on the State Capitol grounds.

A monument to the U.S. Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution) was authorized by a bill enacted last year. HB 2192 would also allow “a suitable monument … displaying the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.” All three amendments arose from the Civil War.

  • The 13th Amendment, which was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865, abolished slavery.
  • The 14th Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, contains the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses.
  • The 15th Amendment, which was ratified on Feb. 3, 1870, prohibits denial of the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude [a/k/a slavery].

The proposed monument would be designed, constructed and installed on the Capitol grounds “by private entities at no expense to the state,” the legislation pledges.

HB 2192 is scheduled to be considered by the General Government Oversight and Accountability Committee at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

House Bill 2277 would require students in Oklahoma public schools to recite the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag every day rather than just once a week, as current state law mandates. The state statute, in accordance with federal law, authorizes an exemption for students “who do not wish to participate” in the pledge.

In a related matter, state law also requires instruction in the history and etiquette “relating to the United States flag” to be presented “in one or more grades” in every school district in Oklahoma.

HB 2277 was endorsed unanimously by the House Committee on Common Education earlier this month and is on general order in the House, awaiting a floor vote.

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

21 Feb
0

RELEASE: School Vouchers Divert Public Funding and Taxpayers’ Money to Unaccountable Private Schools

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-536-2417
Oklahoma Democratic Party

School Vouchers Divert Public Funding and Taxpayers’ Money to Unaccountable Private Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Bill 560, introduced by Senator Rob Standridge R-Norman, is no more than an avenue for Republicans to push privatizing education. Instead of diverting taxpayer’s money to voucher programs that take additional funding away from struggling Oklahoma public schools, lawmakers should be concentrating on how to bring in revenue to increase teacher pay, incentives to retain teachers in Oklahoma, and improving public education.

HB 560 is limited to Oklahoma, Cleveland, and Tulsa Counties. Students that qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program would be permitted to use 90% of their state aid towards private schools, while only 10% would remain in the district for public schools. Most eligible and better performing private schools approved by the Oklahoma Private School Accrediting Council, a requirement for voucher qualification, cost families tens of thousands in tuition. This makes the difference in the average available $2,700 a drop in the bucket to the total cost of a private education and cost prohibitive to many low-income students on the federal reduced lunch program.

Most voucher programs limit the government’s ability to administer oversight and accountability measures on private schools. There is little evidence to support that school vouchers deliver better outcomes for students while taxpayers’ money is used to give private schools the control to choose who can attend versus an all-inclusive public education.

At a time when Oklahoma is experiencing a growing budget crisis, and potentially another $34.6 million in cuts to all agencies, public schools and our children will suffer the most harm from losing addition funding to school privatization in the form of vouchers.

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The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.