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04 Mar
0

School Sexual Assault Education/Prevention Measure OK’d by House

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 4, 2015) — The state House of Representatives on Tuesday passed House Bill 1362, legislation to provide sexual assault prevention and response training to public school teachers and staff. The vote was 95-1.

“We need to do everything in our power to make sure that our students are taught in a safe and sound environment,” said Rep. Claudia Griffith, D-Norman, author of the bill. “This bill will give school districts the opportunity to create their own programs to give their teachers, staff, and administrators the training to correctly prevent and respond to acts of sexual assault.”

HB 1362 amends the Safe School Committee provisions to include training for programs that may be implemented at the school site that would inform students and school staff on the appropriate emotional response and victim support needs and treatment following a rape or sexual assault incident that occurs at school or involves a student.

“Four months ago we had an incident in Norman schools where a student was charged with assaulting three young women,” Griffith said. “Two weeks ago three teens were arrested in connection with a sexual assault at Westmoore High School. This is a problem in our schools and we need to give teachers and other staff the tools to handle these situations. As a nurse, I know how hard it is to treat a victim of rape and I know the training needed to help those victims emotionally as a first responder.”

The assaults in Norman sparked a movement among students, parents, teachers, and community members called YES All Daughters. They advocate for all victims of sexual violence and bullying and aim to raise funds to start a non-profit organization for their advocacy efforts.

“Today is another step forward in the fight against sexual assault in Oklahoma,” said Stacey Wright, organizer of YES All Daughters. “We hope HB 1362 will continue this trajectory and move swiftly through the Senate and on to being signed into law by Governor Fallin. Oklahoma House legislators showed us today that our children’s health and safety is a priority in our state. We thank Claudia Griffith and all those who voted for this important legislation today, as well as all those who stand with YES All Daughters against sexual violence.”

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

03 Mar
0

Erosion of our Freedoms

LETTER to the EDITOR
From State Rep. Brian Renegar
Capitol: (405) 557-7381

Erosion of our Freedoms

Oklahomans are losing their freedoms, one local-control issue at a time. And why? To satisfy certain lobbies like the tobacco and the oil and gas industries.

Last year Governor Fallin signed into law a bill that says municipalities cannot enact anti-smoking laws that are more stringent than the state’s. She also vetoed Rep. Katie Henke’s House Bill 2155, which would have created a parent-teacher-student team to decide whether a failure on a third-grade reading sufficiency test was due to extrinsic factors.

Also last year a law was created to keep counties and municipalities from raising the minimum wage. The proposed defunding of our advanced-placement U.S. history classes is taking local control away from local school boards

So is House Bill 1440 by Rep. Chad Caldwell (R-Enid), which would impose term limits on school boards. This contradicts Representative Caldwell’s other measure, House Bill 1442, which says that if a school district can’t find someone to run in their district, they can go outside the district to get someone to serve! Talk about a lack of common sense.

Even the Speaker of House, Jeff Hickman, is getting into the act with House Bill 2178, which would disallow municipalities from adopting ordinances to ban fracking in their city.

—State Rep. Brian Renegar, Democrat – McAlester, DVM

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02 Mar
0

Foster Children Would Have Opportunity to Get College Education Under Pair of Democrat Measures Approved by State House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Capitol: (405) 557-7306

Foster Children Would Have Opportunity to Get College Education Under Pair of Democrat Measures Approved by State House

Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-24)

Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-24)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Companion measures that would provide foster children in Oklahoma with an opportunity to attend college passed the state House of Representatives by wide margins Monday.

Under House Bill 1672 by Rep. Steve Kouplen, children who are in the permanent custody of the state Department of Human Services would be automatically eligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) after those students complete the 10th grade or reach the age of 16.

In addition, House Bill 1848 by Minority Leader Scott Inman would designate the State Regents for Higher Education as the agency responsible for identifying and tracking those foster children for purposes of enrolling them in OHLAP, which is also known as “Oklahoma’s Promise.”

Rep. Scott Inman (D-94)

Rep. Scott Inman
(D-94)

To “ensure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks,” the responsibility for “shepherding” the foster children would be placed on the Regents because the DHS has a heavy caseload and high staff turnover, Inman, D-Del City, explained.

“We’d be penny wise and pound foolish if we don’t encourage these children and help them advance their education,” said Kouplen, D-Beggs. “These kids are still in the system; they have not been adopted out,” Inman emphasized.

HB 1672 passed the House, 87-6, and HB 1848 was endorsed, 91-4. Both measures now will be referred to the state Senate.

OHLAP provides awards equivalent to all or part of tuition expenses for students who complete the program’s requirements while in high school. The awards may be used at accredited Oklahoma public and private colleges and for certain courses offered at public career technology centers.

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http://www.okhouse.tv/radViewVideo.aspx?VideoID=683

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

02 Mar
3

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: House Minority Leader Scott Inman
Capitol: (405) 557-7370

Contact: State Rep. Mike Shelton
Capitol: (405 557-7367

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

Shelton, Mike

Rep. Mike Shelton (D-97)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Only one House Republican joined House Democrats when a vote was taken Monday afternoon on a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma.

Rep. Mike Shelton lodged a motion to suspend the House Rules in order to file an untimely amendment to a House measure in order to raise the minimum wage over the next three years: from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour.

“It is vital that we use every option available to us as a legislature to help the working people of Oklahoma,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, nearly half (47.8%) of working-aged Oklahomans who were impoverished in 2013 worked full- or part-time. In addition, 30.5% of the jobs in Oklahoma are considered low-wage. Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reported that 627,000 Oklahomans were living in poverty in 2013.

Proctor, Eric

Rep. Eric Proctor (D-77)

“No one should work a full-time job in the United States and live in poverty,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. Several states – including Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Nevada and New York – have already raised their minimum wage, Proctor related.

In addition, the Cherokee Nation recently raised its minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, Proctor said.

Shelton’s motion was defeated on a 27-57 vote. The proposal was endorsed by 26 Democrats and one Republican, and all 57 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans. Three House Democrats were absent when the vote was taken.

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

02 Mar
0

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2015

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees

Muslim_Day_Cropped[March 2, 2015, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] On Friday, February 27, 2015, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman, Wallace Collins, and various elected Democrats addressed advocates and supporters in honor of the very first Muslim Day at the Capitol.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from numerous panelists, including several Democratic legislators, community leaders, and advocates for religious equality in Oklahoma. “It was an honor to be asked to address this group of individuals and equip them with resources to become more involved in the democratic process of our great state,” said Collins.

Panelist Senator John Sparks, Democrat from district 16 in Norman, impressed upon attendees that “there is no substitute for personal relationships” and encouraged everyone, regardless of political, religious, or organizational affiliation to develop and continually cultivate relationships with their elected officials.

Collins echoed that sentiment by saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease and if you’re not getting any grease, then you’re not squeaking loud enough.” He encouraged attendees to get involved at the local level during upcoming precinct meetings and how to move through to become a delegate at the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention in May. “You’ve got time, you’ve got talent, you’ve got treasure, and some people have all three,” Collins said emphasizing that everyone has something to offer.

Representative George Young, Sr., of Oklahoma City’s House District 99 said, “How could we have a United States of America if we did not have all of the various, distinct, and diverse kinds of backgrounds that come together that make us who we are? Civic engagement is who we are.” Young went on to say, “It is your obligation to come [to the Capitol].”

Additional information about becoming more active in your local political processes, getting registered to vote, dates and locations for local or statewide Democratic events, or becoming a delegate to the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention please visit www.okdemocrats.org or call (405) 497-3366.