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10 Feb
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RELEASE: House Panel OKs Fee Hike on Minerals Production

House Panel OKs Fee Hike on Minerals Production

OKLAHOMA CITY (9 February 2017) – A measure that would increase the fee on the production of minerals other than coal mined in Oklahoma was endorsed by a legislative panel Thursday afternoon.

House Bill 1844 would require operators of non-coal mining operations to pay the state Department of Mines a fee of one and one-fourth cents per ton of minerals they produce; the current fee is a penny per ton.

State statute defines “minerals” to mean limestone, gypsum, asphalt, clay, copper, granite, gravel, lead, marble, salt, sand, shale, chat, tripoli, caliche, volcanic ash and zinc, but not oil or gas “and any other mineral found naturally in a liquid or gaseous state.”

HB 1844, by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, received a unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services.

In response to a question from Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, Jim Rodriguez, executive director of the Oklahoma Aggregates Association (OKAA), said the industry supports the measure.

“The appropriated amount going to the Department of Mines has been cut significantly over the past several funding cycles, and federal funds the department receives have been reduced, too,” Rodriguez said. “The industry wants to ensure that the Department of Mines can operate in a reasonable manner. We want to support their operations, in order to protect workers and the state.”

The proposed fee increase will generate “around $188,000 to $200,000” per year, Rodriguez estimated.

The state Department of Mines was appropriated $775,772 by the Legislature for the current Fiscal Year 2017. That was 11.7% less than the agency was appropriated for FY 2016, and 22.26% less than the agency was appropriated 10 years ago, ledgers reflect. During that same period, revenue from agency fees increased 35%: from $850,000 in FY 2007 to $1,149,000 in FY 2017.

Production in Oklahoma of minerals other than coal totaled 78 million tons (primarily limestone, sand and gravel, granite, gypsum and clay) in 2015 (the latest year for which statistics are available), according to the state Department of Mines website.

The aggregates industry employs more than 3,500 people in Oklahoma, the OKAA reports. Its member companies produce more than 90% of the crushed stone and 70% of the sand and gravel consumed annually in Oklahoma, and OKAA producers export 15 to 25 million tons of aggregate materials each year for use in other states and countries, the organization says.

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

09 Feb
0

RELEASE: Dyslexia to be Highlighted at State Capitol Feb. 20

Dyslexia to be Highlighted at State Capitol Feb. 20

OKLAHOMA CITY (9 February 2017) – An event to focus attention on dyslexia is scheduled at the State Capitol later this month, Rep. Ed Cannaday announced Thursday.

The Porum Democrat will join the advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia OK in co-hosting a “come-and-go” meeting Feb. 20 in Capitol Room 112, from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will be held in conjunction with Capitol Dyslexia Awareness Day, and the event will be open to the public, Cannaday said.

For additional information, contact Cannaday’s Capitol office at (405) 557-7375; or Michelle Keiper, founding member of Decoding Dyslexia OK, at (918) 691-6118; or by visiting the website www.decodingdyslexiaok.org.

Dyslexia, a reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence. Different people are affected to varying degrees. Problems may include difficulties in spelling words, reading quickly, writing words, “sounding out” words in the head, pronouncing words when reading aloud, and understanding what one reads.

“Oklahoma’s institutions of higher education are not adequately preparing our teachers to identify this serious disability,” said Cannaday, a retired school teacher/administrator. Two-thirds of Oklahoma fourth graders read below proficiency levels in 2015, he said; blame was attributed at least in part to suspected dyslexia.

Dyslexia can be managed through early identification, Cannaday said. “We have effective interventions, but first, educators must be able to identify the condition.” To address this need, Cannaday has filed House Bill 1789.

It would require educators in kindergarten through third grade who teach early childhood education, elementary education and/or special education to receive quality training in “multisensory structured language teaching methods in order to meet the needs of students identified as having dyslexia.”

HB 1789 has been assigned to the House Committee on Common Education.

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

08 Feb
0

The Senate Has Failed Public Education and Our Children’s’ Future

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2017

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

The Senate Has Failed Public Education and Our Children’s’ Future

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Democratic Party is deeply disappointed that the U.S. Senate placed partisan politics over our children’s education by confirming an unqualified, incompetent, and anti-public education proponent to lead the U.S. Education Department.

Betsy Devos’s confirmation is a slap in the face to parents and students that attend public schools throughout the United States, but particularly here in Oklahoma. Not one of our Senators stood up for Oklahoma public school children by denouncing Devos’s inexperience in public education knowing that our state is facing a public education crisis and is one of the lowest in the nation for teacher’s pay, and per pupil spending.

How can Oklahomans have confidence in our Senators’ interests to represent our constituents if they are focused on playing for-profit-politics with our children’s future? The Senate has failed public education by confirming a secretary more interested in diverting public funds into private education and who doesn’t understand the needs and challenges that our public school teachers and students face daily.

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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.

07 Feb
0

RELEASE: Okla. Car Buyers Should Have 3-Day ‘Cooling Off’ Period, Legislator Believes

Okla. Car Buyers Should Have 3-Day ‘Cooling Off’ Period, Legislator Believes

OKLAHOMA CITY (7 February 2017) – A state legislator thinks Oklahoma’s “lemon law” that focuses on mechanical defects isn’t enough when it comes to buying a car, truck or van. What the state also needs, he believes, is a “cooling off” provision.

House Bill 1473 by state Rep. George E. Young, Sr., would require every contract for the sale of a motor vehicle to contain a “buyer’s remorse” provision that would allow a customer to cancel the contract within three days and return the vehicle to the seller “if the purchaser is not satisfied.”

Young, D-Oklahoma City, concedes his proposal will face an uphill fight but contends it’s needed. “I was surprised to see that no statue on the books covered this. It was brought to me by a constituent and I feel it is a very just correction to our laws.”

HB 1473 was assigned Tuesday to the House Committee on the Judiciary – Civil and Environmental.

The federal Truth in Lending Act accords a three-day right of rescission to any homeowner refinancing an existing mortgage, or to someone securing a home equity loan. The Federal Trade Commission offers consumers a three-day rescission period when they purchase products or services at a place other than the seller’s primary place of business. Sales of new residential windows, for example, are subject to a three-day “cooling off” requirement.

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

07 Feb
0

DNC Statement: Voters Will Hold Heller, Flake, GOP Accountable for DeVos Confirmation

DNC: Voters Will Hold Heller, Flake, GOP Accountable for DeVos Confirmation

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans voted today to confirm Betsy DeVos as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education. DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile released the following statement:

“President Trump’s swamp got a new billionaire today. Millions of teachers, parents and students could not have made their opposition to Betsy Devos’s confirmation any clearer – they do not want someone whose only education experience is dismantling public schools. A Republican senator like Dean Heller or Jeff Flake could have cast the single vote needed to halt this confirmation. Instead, their constituents in states like Nevada and Arizona will cast their votes next year to kick them out of office for selling out their state’s public school children.”