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07 Apr
0

Pittman, Brewer Respond to Statements Made in Public Health Committee

Communications & Public Affairs
April 7, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Ajay Pittman
Office: (405) 557-7393 ajay.pittman@okhouse.gov

Contact: Rep. Denise Brewer
Office (405) 557-7361 denise.brewer@okhouse.gov

Pittman, Brewer Respond to Statements Made in Public Health Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Ajay Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, and Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa, both members of the House Public Health Committee, issued the following statements after what they termed insensitive comments were made during debate of an anti-abortion bill today.

“In times like these where we see our nation on the cusp of reckoning social and racial injustices, we still endure implicit bias from our colleagues who are insensitive to what is said about the hurtful and ugly past of this country’s treatment of African Americans. Slavery is not something we should compare to abortions or to anything else in the year 2021, unless we discuss the “spirit of superiority” over women and people of color.

“We continue as policy makers to chip away at the rights of women to choose proper healthcare for themselves in Senate Bill 612, and now we are hearing our colleagues compare these healthcare issues to slavery which also limited the rights of Black women by not allowing them to have a choice not to have children by their slave masters.”

– Rep. Ajay Pittman

“We have been bombarded by anti-choice bills, which all have a common theme: written by men focusing on taking away the rights of pregnant people to control their bodies. SB 612 is particularly offensive. It is an attempt to destroy doctor-patient confidentiality, threatens physicians with huge fines and felony charges, and none of these bills say anything about the responsibility of the father.

“Today, we heard a claim that the abortion fight is bigger than the hundreds of years when African Americans were kidnapped and enslaved, with no control of their bodies, families, or even recognized as humans. Those insensitive ideas are alive and well in our Capitol.”

– Rep. Denise Brewer

-END-

07 Apr
0

Oklahoma Democratic Party Demands Legislative Apology and Censure

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
Oklahoma Democratic Party
angela@okdemocrats.org

Oklahoma Democratic Party Demands Legislative Apology and Censure

OKLAHOMA CITY, APRIL 7, 2021 – During the debate about SB612, Republican Representative Jim Olsen suggested that he would rather be an alive slave than a dead baby because, as he stated, the fight to end abortion is more important than the fight to end slavery.

“The constant barrage of cavalier racism is a distinct sign that Oklahoma is not doing fine. This is not the first time in this session alone that in debating the abortion issue, a Republican legislator evoked a racist trope to defend their indefensible position,” declared Alicia Andrews, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

”Oklahoma’s Republican legislators championed a bill to prohibit racial and gender diversity education in our schools. Perhaps if these lawmakers were exposed to a broader history, they would have developed a better understanding of the dangers this type of language presents.

“Olsen’s language underscores just how desperate Republicans are. Abortion rates have declined by 19.6% in the last decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The GOP knows that they will not have this baseless yet divisive issue to scare their base for much longer. They have decided to revive the oldest, most despicable boogie man – race,” continued Andrews.

“The Oklahoma Democratic Party demands not only an apology from Representative Olsen but also that Speaker of the Oklahoma House, Charles McCall, immediately censures Olsen. Moreover, we request that all Oklahoma House Representatives undergo Diversity and Inclusion training conducted by a nationally recognized facilitator before this session is over and at the beginning of every session in the future,” concluded Andrews.

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For more information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party, visit the party website at okdemocrats.org, or call party headquarters at 405-427-3366.

31 Mar
0

Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights Closer to Becoming Law

Communications & Public Affairs
March 31, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Melissa Provenzano
(405)557-7330 melissa.provenzano@okhouse.gov

Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights Closer to Becoming Law

OKLAHOMA CITY — A long fight on behalf of Oklahomans seeking higher education continues as legislation to create protections for student borrowers unanimously passed the House Higher Education and Career Tech Committee last week.

The Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 261, seeks to establish and make known to the Oklahoma student loan borrower basic, common-sense state-level protections when working with student loan servicers. It is not loan forgiveness. Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, is the House author on the legislation.

“The Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights would create a fair, clear, and common-sense approach to lending that protects potential, current, and former students that must borrow money to pay for their education,” Provenzano said.

Roughly 50 percent of Oklahoma students carry student loan debt out of college at an average of $25,000. Provenzano believes now is the time to make this effort on behalf of Oklahoma students.

“States have begun to flex their muscles around the idea that they should have the authority to advocate for students challenged by issues from student loan servicers,” Provenzano said. “This is our chance to protect Oklahoma students. We can and should set a precedent that we are a state that encourages education and that we stand behind our students.”

Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, is the Senate author of the legislation.

SB261 is now eligible to be heard on the House Floor. This will be the bill’s final hurdle before it heads to the Governor’s desk.

-END-

Senate Bill 261

29 Mar
0

Dems Call for Accountability, Transparency in Education Policy

Communications & Public Affairs
March 29, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wes Carter, Press Secretary
House Democratic Caucus
(405)557-7674 wes.carter@okhouse.gov

Dems Call for Accountability, Transparency in Education Policy

OKLAHOMA CITY — Members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus held a press conference today to bring attention to the lack of education legislation to address the problems facing Oklahoma public schools.

House Bill 2074 and House Bill 2078, packaged legislation that changes student transfer rules and the state’s funding formula, was one of the main issues House Democrats addressed.

“The Open Transfer Bill (HB2074), while it doesn’t seem particularly harmful, will keep the transfer window open all year long – making effective hiring and course planning practices a significant challenge,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa. “Additionally, the language for this legislation as well as for the funding formula bill (HB 2078) which could destabilize the way we fund schools, was put into the bill less than an hour before lawmakers voted, which leaves no time for review or public input.”

Democrats also spoke on the mixed messages coming out of the Legislature.

“We have received reassurances that proposed changes to the funding formula will not lead to budget cuts,” Provenzano said. “These reassurances are being made while there is also talk about taking money away from public schools for having ‘ghost students.’ There are no ghost students. This is a complete misrepresentation of how the public school funding formula works and why we use a three-year average.”

The lawmakers, many of whom are former educators and school administrators, also took aim at the lack of legislation to reform the way Oklahoma treats education management organizations.

“How does Epic, a for-profit virtual charter school, get away with overcharging taxpayers at least $11 million and then not pay the bill?” said Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa. “What happened to the legislation proposed at the beginning of the session to hold them accountable? It went away, that’s what happened.”

Moving forward, the group hopes for more public input and especially input from education professionals.

“The telltale sign that a bill isn’t good for education is if educators don’t support it,” Provenzano said. “There is little to no support for these bills among the education community. Our schools know what they need to succeed, but unfortunately, they are still waiting on their government to figure it out.”

-END-

A/V Link to today’s press conference

24 Mar
0

Unheard Police Reform Legislation Topic of Press Conference

Communications & Public Affairs
March 24, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wes Carter, Press Secretary
Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus
(405)962-7674 wes.carter@okhouse.gov

Unheard Police Reform Legislation Topic of Press Conference

OKLAHOMA CITY — Members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus held a press conference today [Wednesday] to focus on police reform legislation that went unheard during the House committee process.

The different pieces of legislation filed by House Democrats were common-sense measures that both red states and blue states have implemented to help foster better relationships with the communities and the police departments that serve them.

The bills in question covered a range of police reforms from requiring officers to use body cams if the department has them available to creating a database for officers with misconduct charges.

“I know from working with my colleagues and from studying what other states are doing that these reforms have strong bipartisan support,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “But in this building, we can’t even get these reforms a hearing. There is a disconnect between what needs to be done to address these issues and where our priorities as a Legislature seem to be, which is unfortunate because this issue demands urgency.”

Many of the bills filed, like House Bill 2915, which forbids officers from using lethal chokeholds, have been filed in the past.

“This isn’t something we dreamed up,” said Black Caucus Chair Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. “We have been fighting for these reforms for years. This past summer, many more Americans were exposed to the need for reform. It is time for change. We must do better than what we have up to this point.”

The members of the caucus were asked specifically about anti-protest legislation and how they would respond to members who don’t see these issues in the same light.

“It’s not just about the legislation we file,” said State Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC. “A good portion of the work we do is about having these conversations. We hear a lot from members on the other side of the aisle about their support for our positions, but we don’t see that support publicly. Maybe by continuing to bring attention to this issue and talking about these missed opportunities, we can empower more of our like-minded colleagues on the other side to stand with us.”

-END-

LINK TO TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE

Police reform legislation that failed to receive a hearing:

HB2420

HB2431

HB2915

HB2916

HB2919

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