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07 Feb
0

RELEASE: Interest on ‘Payday Loans’ Would be Slashed In HB 1404 Filed by Rep. Mickey Dollens

Interest on ‘Payday Loans’ Would be Slashed In HB 1404 Filed by Rep. Mickey Dollens

OKLAHOMA CITY (7 February 2017) – “Predatory” lenders imposing “unfair and abusive” loan terms on “people who feel as though they have nowhere to turn” resulted in a bill by a first-term legislator to slash the interest rate on so-called “payday loans”.

A lender “shall not charge an annual percentage rate greater than 60%” for any loan issued “pursuant to the Deferred Deposit Lending Act,” decrees House Bill 1404 by state Rep. Mickey Dollens. Currently the ceiling on a payday loan is 390%, the south Oklahoma City Democrat said.

“Again and again, while I was knocking doors on the campaign trail” last year, “I would hear about the need for better regulation on payday loans,” Dollens said. Lowering the APR “would help prevent vulnerable borrowers from drowning in a cycle of debt,” he said.

According to the Oak View Law Group of Los Altos, CA, the maximum amount of a payday loan in Oklahoma is $500, for a duration of 12 to 45 days. The fees and finance charges are $15 for every $100 (up to $300) plus $10 on every $100 advanced above $300. The finance charge on a 14-day $100 loan is $15, and the APR on a 14-day $100 loan is 390%.

The proposed ceiling of 60% “would allow small-business owners to pay their bills without imposing devastatingly oppressive interest rates on vulnerable borrowers,” Dollens said.

Payday loan companies collected more than $52 million in fees and interest in Oklahoma in 2014, Dollens said. “That’s a lot of money going into just a few pockets,” he said. “Not only that, but these lenders have been shown to target young people, immigrants who have come into our state to pursue ‘the American dream’, and minority populations. In addition, they target our military personnel, which is disgraceful.”

The state Department of Consumer Credit, which regulates deferred deposit lenders (companies that extend what are commonly referred to as payday loans), reported that 944,712 DDL loans totaling almost $392 million were made in this state in 2014 (the latest year for which such data is available).

“We need to explore long-term solutions – such as micro-lending and providing a living wage – so that families who turn to these lenders can have other options to fulfill their day-to-day needs,” Dollens said.

HB 1404 was assigned Tuesday to the House Committee on Banking, Financial Services and Pensions.

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

06 Feb
0

Fallin Wants a $1.1 Billion Tax Increase on The Middle-Class and Working Families

For Immediate Release
February 6, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-427-3366
Oklahoma Democratic Party

Fallin Wants a $1.1 Billion Tax Increase on The Middle-Class and Working Families

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Democratic Party is dismayed that it took a billion-dollar revenue failure for Governor Fallin to recognize that we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Today she admitted that we need new revenue streams so that we can fund services, education, health care and public safety.

Fallin’s response to generating new revenue, however, falls short with burdensome taxes on the middle-class and working families in the form of $1.1 billion in new taxes on Oklahomans that can least afford it.

Representative Inman said in response to today’s address, “…while our caucus wants to find new revenues, we fundamentally disagree with the idea that shifting the tax burden from the wealthiest of Oklahomans to the poorest of Oklahomans [and] to middle-class families isn’t the way to provide prosperity and growth in Oklahoma.”

It’s time for us to push back. Fallin has refused to address and fix the systemic tax cuts and credits that have to lead us to where we are today.

Fallin is interested in teacher pay raises, criminal justice reform, and public safety but once again, she has failed to establish how we will fund these initiatives. On the one hand, she proposes eliminating the grocery sales tax, a cut that Democrats have been in favor of for years while raising the fuel tax and eliminating the corporate income tax.  As Inman states, “[This] is not a fiscally responsible way to fund government.”

The Oklahoma Policy Institute states that Oklahoma needs to end the loopholes and create a tax system that works for families, “…policies like rolling back the cuts to Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit, restoring a higher income tax rate for very high incomes, and ending the capital gains tax break,“ would better stabilize revenues.

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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

03 Feb
0

STATEMENT: House Creates Own Slush Fund

For Immediate Release
February 3, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-427-3366
Oklahoma Democratic Party

House Creates Own Slush Fund

OKLAHOMA CITY – ODP Chair Mark Hammons issued the following statement in response to The House Investigative Committee Report of Feb. 2, 2017. The House Investigative Committee Report is woefully inadequate in addressing the authority of the Speaker of the House to expend funds as well as the source of those funds.

The Committee Report has transformed the entire House legislative fund into a giant slush fund. Under its report, every dollar appropriated to the House of Representatives can be spent by the House Speaker without approval or oversight. In creating its own slush fund, the Committee ignored the most pertinent constitutional limitations which are found in the Oklahoma Constitution, Article V, Sections 55 and 56.

Our Constitution requires that “[n]o money shall ever be paid” except pursuant to an appropriation which “shall distinctly specify the sum appropriated and the object to which it is to be applied.” Where does the appropriation funding House operations authorize settlement of claims? The Committee’s answer apparently is: Nowhere, and we don’t care. This is unacceptable and contrary to the best interests of our citizens and taxpayers.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party says: END THE SLUSH FUND!

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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.

01 Feb
0

RELEASE: House Bill Proposes Minimal Paid Sick Leave for All Workers

House Bill Proposes Minimal Paid Sick Leave for All Workers

OKLAHOMA CITY (1 February 2017) – A measure by which all workers in Oklahoma would accrue up to at least one week of earned paid sick leave annually has been filed in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 1310 by Rep. Collin Walke would enact the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.”

It proposes that all employees, private- and public-sector alike, accrue a minimum of one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, but no more than 40 hours per year “unless the employer selects a higher limit.”

A requirement of this nature is needed because many Oklahomans, particularly in low-paying jobs, have no paid time-off for illness or emergencies, Walke said Wednesday.

Four in 10 private-sector workers are not accorded paid sick leave, and seven in 10 low-wage workers whose earnings are in the bottom 25% of earners lack access to paid sick time, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Among those employed in the accommodation and food service industries, 75% must choose between losing pay or showing up to work sick and/or leaving a sick child at home alone, the DOL says.

“Studies show that individuals who are paid for time off to seek medical care, including preventive medical care, are more productive and actually save employers money,” said Walke, D-Oklahoma City. Requiring an employee who’s sick from a cold or the flu, or some other contagious illness, to come to work jeopardizes the health of other employees and customers, which is counterproductive, the first-term legislator said.

HB 1310 specifies that an employee could use the paid leave for several health-related reasons, including treatment of a physical or mental illness, injury or health condition; a worker’s “need for preventive medical care”; taking care of a family member who’s ill or injured; or to attend a meeting at a location where a child is receiving care for a health condition, disability or some other critical matter.

Another justifiable reason would be absence “necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking,” to enable the employee or a family member to receive medical attention, aid from a victim services organization, psychological or other counseling, relocation or “taking steps to secure an existing home” or securing civil/criminal legal services due to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking.

Walke’s bill includes a proviso that if/when an employee needed three or more consecutive days off, the employer could require “reasonable documentation” that the paid sick leave was used for a legitimate reason.

Any employer that offers a paid leave policy and “makes available an amount of paid leave sufficient to meet” the requirements of HB 1310 would not be required to “provide additional paid sick time,” the bill stipulates.

Employees who are exempt from overtime requirements pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act “shall be assumed to work 40 hours in each work week” unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours, in which case earned paid sick leave would accrue according to their shorter schedule.

An employer’s “absence-control policy” would not be allowed to count used paid sick leave as an excuse to discipline, discharge, demote or suspend an employee nor take any other “adverse action” against the worker, HB 1310 decrees.

No employer would be required to provide financial compensation to any employee who is fired or resigns or retires and has any unused sick leave.

The proposal will be among 1,340 House bills that will be considered when the Legislature convenes in earnest Feb. 6 to start its four-month regular annual session.

There is no federal legal requirement for an employer to provide paid sick leave, the U.S. Department of Labor acknowledges. However, “Evidence is mounting that providing workers with time off when they or their family members are ill reaps enormous benefits,” the agency contends.

Employers that offer paid sick time know that this benefit “improve[s] worker morale and productivity, attract[s] talented employees, and reduce[s] costly turnover,” the DOL reports. In addition, paid sick-time policies “help prevent the spread of contagious illness to co-workers and customers, allow workers to get preventive care, and curb unnecessary and costly emergency-room visits” by allowing employees to seek medical attention during regular business hours.

Paid sick leave is “a basic building block of family economic security,” which benefits the entire economy, the DOL maintains.

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

01 Feb
0

STATEMENT: DNC Statement on Black History Month

For Immediate Release
February 1, 2017

Contact: DNC Press – 202-863-8148

DNC Statement on Black History Month

WASHINGTON – DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile and DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie Rollins issued the following statement:

“This Black History Month we honor the heroes of our shared past and recommit ourselves to the ongoing fight against discrimination and racial inequality. From the brutal shackles of slavery to the profound achievements of President Barack Obama, ours is a story of both tears and triumph.

“We celebrate history’s great champions of the Civil Rights movement – extraordinary leaders like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks. We recall those who broke barriers and earned a seat at the table of power, like Senator Hiram Revels, the first African American to serve in Congress, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman elected to the Senate. And we fight shoulder to shoulder alongside living legends like Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton who was arrested for leading sit-ins as a young organizer in the South, and Rep. John Lewis who marched peacefully across the Edmund Pettus Bridge as a young activist toward a blockade of club-wielding men.

“These heroes paved the way for countless other great thinkers, innovators, inventors, athletes, artists and entrepreneurs whose contributions to our nation are unquantifiable, and who will continue to shape our shared future.

“Black History Month is also a time to remember all the ordinary Americans that the towering heroes of our past represent. We remember the many victims of violence and brutality, we remember that Black lives matter, and we honor all the nameless, faceless citizens whose personal stories would tell us that the struggle for economic and racial justice continues. That’s why it is our sacred responsibility to pick up the torch and fight alongside today’s champions of justice for good jobs, a living wage, greater access to decent health care, and not least of all, better schools.

“In fact, the central theme of this year’s Black History Month is ‘The Crisis in Black Education.’ In too many districts across the country, and especially in predominantly minority communities, schools still lack the resources needed to close the racial achievement gap. Tragically, that gap has barely narrowed over the past 50 years. So let us work together to harness the great equalizing power of education, reignite the spirit of the Civil Rights movement, and march forward together to build a brighter future for all of our children, no matter their zip code, no matter their race, color or creed.”

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