Monday, February 15, 2010

Special Needs Scholarship Bill Gains Committee Approval

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation providing scholarships and increased educational opportunities for school children with special needs was approved by the House Human Services Committee today.

“Children with special needs have unique challenges that are not always properly addressed in their assigned local school. I believe the state should give those families the opportunity to attend the school that provides the best learning environment for their children,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City.

House Bill 3393, by Nelson, creates the Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.

Under the bill, students with disabilities (such as those with Down's syndrome or autism) who have an individualized education program (IEP) would qualify for a scholarship to attend any school which meets the accreditation requirements of the State Board of Education.

The scholarship program would not require new spending during the downturn, but would merely redirect existing funds that are currently being spent on the student.

The bill was amended in committee to allow special-needs scholarships to be used at either a private or public school.

House Human Services Committee Vote on HB3393

Human Services Committee
2009-2010 Regular Session

HOUSE BILL3393 Self-Directed Care Pilot Program; Scholarships for Special Needs Students

DO PASS AS AMENDED

2/15/2010 4:26 PM

YEAS: 8
Reps. Kern, McCullough, Peterson, Rousselot, McAffrey, Nelson, Reynolds, Watson

NAYS: 3
Reps. Jordan, Shelton, Sherrer

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

House Speaker Comments on Release of January Revenue Numbers

OKLAHOMA CITY — “It remains unclear if we have reached the bottom of this financial downturn. There are some signs of an economic pulse nationally, but we may see a delay in those effects in Oklahoma until a strong demand for natural gas returns. It is also important to note that while collections have improved, they still remain 21 percent below the estimate,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. “We are watching collections closely and working deliberatively with the governor and the Senate to craft fiscally responsible budgets for both fiscal years 2010 and 2011.”

State Revenue Picture Brightens

OKLAHOMA CITY – State revenue collections in January improved slightly and are more closely tracking projections made by the Tax Commission in December, State Treasurer


Scott Meacham announced today.

Preliminary reports show General Revenue Fund collections in January are $410.4 million. That amount is:

• $82.4 million or 16.7 percent below the prior year; and,

• $107.6 million or 20.8 percent below the estimate.

As was the case in December, January revenue collections are sufficient to fund allocations to state agencies for the month at the previously announced 10-percent reduction from appropriated levels. After allocations totaling $394.8 million are made, $15.6 million remains for use in future months.

Revenue Picture Brightens

Meacham said January’s numbers are somewhat encouraging, even though they remain below prior year collections and the official estimate
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing positive movement,” he said.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Workers compensation reform might include sale of CompSource

From CapitolBeatOK.com

A range of options have been submitted to top legislators and Gov. Brad Henry by state leaders who served on a task force studying anticipated new status, including a potential sale to benefit taxpayers, for CompSource Oklahoma. CompSoure is the state’s workers’ compensation “insurer of last resort.”

House Bill 1963 created a Task Force on Privatization of CompSource Oklahoma. The stated goal of the study was “to create a stable, predictable, competitive workers’ compensation market place in the State of Oklahoma for the benefit of Oklahoma employers and employees.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tahlequah Daily Press - Advocates keep watch on autism bills

This story discusses House Bill 3393 that was introduced by state Rep. Jason Nelson this session which expands the self-directed services pilot program through DHS and creates scholarships for special-needs students.

HB3393 is due to be considered by the House Human Services Committee within the next three weeks. If you have questions about this measure, the committee hearing or want to find out how you can help advance HB3393 please contact Rep. Nelson.

Bill to Allow School Districts to Expend State Textbook Allocations Passes Senate Committee

A measure to allow school districts to use state textbook allocations for instructional expenses passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Wednesday. Sen. Gary Stanislawski said Senate Bill 1784 would help school districts struggling financially due to budget cuts.

“We have schools that can’t afford to pay their bills and are going to be forced to start laying teachers off. It only makes sense to allow local school boards to determine their greatest needs and decide how to best use their available funds to cover those needs,” said Stanislawski, R-Tulsa. “The bottom line here is what’s the point in having new books when you have no teachers to teach those subjects? In hard financial times like these, we must use our commonsense and do what we can to help our local schools.”

Stanislawski was told by officials with Tulsa Public Schools that the district receives over $2 million a year in textbook allocations – an amount that could help save up to 50 teaching positions next year.

The Oklahoma City School district was allocated just over $1.85 million for textbooks in 2010, which could also save a significant number of jobs.

School districts would be authorized to expend textbook allocations only during the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2010.

SB 1784 must now be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bill would allow emergency contact on license - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Bill would allow emergency contact on license - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports

Oklahoma City Jobless Rate The Lowest

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the December unemployment rates. Of the 49 metropolitan areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more Oklahoma City had the lowest jobless rate in the country at 6.0 percent.

Unemployment rates were higher in December than a year earlier in 371 of the 372 metropolitan areas and lower in 1 area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Nineteen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 10 areas registered rates below 5.0 percent. The national unemployment rate in December was 9.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted, up from 7.1 percent a year earlier.

Americans Leery of Too Much Gov't Regulation of Business

A new Gallup poll reveals that 57% of Americans think there is too much regulation placed on businesses. Find details at: Americans Leery of Too Much Gov't Regulation of Business

Monday, February 1, 2010

House Speaker Responds to State of the State Address

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 1, 2010) — “As the governor said today, the budget will dominate this legislative session, and we intend to work in a fiscally responsible way to craft a budget that protects vital government services through strategic cuts while finding savings and efficiencies where possible to balance our budget,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.

“The governor’s speech lacked many policy initiatives, and I believe that though the budget will heavily influence the decisions we make this year, it doesn’t have to suck the wind out of the whole session. There are many policy positions, like government modernization, education reform, energy security and workers’ compensation reform that will help grow Oklahoma’s economy and create jobs. This will be a difficult session, but we are up to the task and I am confident the steps we take this session will position our state to prosper in the future,” Benge concluded.
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